Fall Leaf Cookies Tray

Fall Leaf Cookies

I’ve said it before but I just love Fall! and I love fall leaves. I love to recreate them in any way possible. I know in just one short month we will be celebrating Christmas but I hate to let go of Autumn.

While there’s still a bit of time to squeeze into my schedule, I wanted to make these cookies. I made them several years ago and loved how they turned out and actually forgot about them! So glad I did remember, as they are easier than coloring the actual dough (which is what I always used to do.)

Baking cookies

I think part of the beauty of these cookies is the shape of the leaf. Can’t remember where I purchased the cutter but it truly replicates an oak leaf.

Wilton makes decorating them easy! I used color flow icing for the yellow. The other colors were adding by simply spraying on their color mists in red, green and orange.

I know we have a lot to be thankful for. and I hope you do as well. Times are changing and life isn’t always easy, but it is a whole lot sweeter with special loved ones to share the journey with.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Diane Long

Queen For A Day

Queen for a Day Crown Cookies

With a good part of 2015 in the rear view mirror, it’s time to start thinking about the remainder of the year. It’s holidays, family gatherings, sports themed food indulgences and changing weather.

My journey took a bit of a detour; well, hit a brick wall is more like it. But we mustn’t forget the joy creativity brings us, even in trying days. Force ourselves if we have to, to get into the craft studio, kitchen or garden. To feed our souls as well as brightening someone else’s day.

Queen for a Day Crown Cookies

Don’t you just love birthday parties? There’s nothing like them! We recently celebrated a loved one’s birthday who doesn’t care for cake. Since I am a huge cookie baker, I was up for the challenge.

I’ve been collecting cookie cutters for years. There are so many things you can do with them it’s simply endless! They are an easy size to manage, and I decorate them over several days. This is especially helpful when making Christmas cookies.

I bake the cookies one day and store in plastic containers. You can also take a day to make several batches of dough and refrigerate for up to several weeks.

To make the icing I use Wilton’s Color Flow recipe and try to keep on the thick side. Keep it covered with a wet paper towel as this icing dries quickly. After mixing in a stand mixer I pour some out in a shallow bowl, take the cookie and dip top side down and drag a knife across to remove excess. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Let them dry several hours or over night. Avoid stacking the cookies sheets until icing is thoroughly dry, otherwise the color comes out blotchy. I do stack sheets in oven overnight (to keep out of sight and wandering hands).  Its amazing but they don’t get stale once the icing is on.

Now they are ready for the piping. This is a Wilton Royal Icing recipe. It does have to mix for a long time and can crack or be hard to work with if it’s not right. Definitely worth checking out some videos for helpful tips. Now the fun begins! although your hand will get stiff from squeezing, you can decorate and embellish with any sort of sprinkles, glittery shapes or colors your heart desires. If you want, you can individually wrap them in clear plastic bags with colored twist ties or bows. Add a cookie to each place setting, add some with a gift of coffees, hot cocoa or basket of baking supplies.

Make someone’s life a little sweeter with something from your kitchen.

All the best,

Diane Long

Mother’s Day Lace Frame

Mother Lace Frame

After going to a recent trade show, I fell in love with this new (to me) craft called Hasty Lace. Such a relaxing craft. Can be done almost anywhere including watching TV. Pity I found this at the end of this dreadfully long, cold Winter. None the less, the sample shown were amazing! I just had to give them a try. Since Mother’s Day is coming up, I thought it would be nice to do something to show my appreciation that was more than just a card. You basically have two options. The main technique is using a very tiny ball tool with the stencil. You can attach it to a light box and just start poking. If you want to add more detail and refinement you can use a single needle tool on certain areas of the design. This is similar to Pergamano but with much less work.  One nice thing about these stencils is they come in relatively small sizes so you can finish one in about 20 minutes. An added bonus of the stencils is that many can be extended to create a larger design, creating bookmarks, photo mats etc. They have larger designs and scenes as well. I hope you check out the Some-Assembly-Required website (SAR). They are a wonderful couple with great products and lots of helpful advice. Have you discovered any new crafts lately? All the best,

Diane Long

 

Magnetic Tic Tac Toe Gift

Magnetic Tic Tac Toe image

Well, Autumn has actually arrived. It’s been quite a month of drama, a crisis or two, and packing my youngest off to college (sniff)

Nothing like some craft therapy to throw yourself into in times like this. I’m having so much fun with the magnetic sheets from Delfecto. So easy to punch, cut with diecuts or regular scissors (they are great for storing your dies too)

Magnetic Tic Tac Toe

Continuing in a series of handmade gift ideas, This tic tac toe could make a great gift for a male teacher (especially hard to get for) a co worker, just about anyone and simple to make!

The metal storage tin can be purchased at a craft store on online shop. The one I used is about 5 x 51/2. I had some black binding tape that I cut into thin strips and placed on the lid.

Using Spellbinders Font One set cut Xs and Os in the magnet sheets. Cut again using gold and copper paper. Take the metallic letters and run through the Xyron machine to adhere to the magnet letters.

With a project this easy, you can make a bunch!

All the best,

Diane Long

 

Stamped Wooden Box

Stamped Wooden Box image

I’d like to kick off Fall with a series of handmade gift ideas, but let’s see how I do. Not sure I’m ready to give up summer yet and I have been outside more than in my craft studio lately. That being said, I do realize how important it is to get a jump on the holiday gift giving season so here goes (and as always, please forgive my persistent lack of photography skills….)

Stamped Wooden Box

I picked up a set of 2 wooden boxes for less than 5 bucks but I think I will check out the different stores to see how the quality may vary. It was nice that it had the smaller square already cut into it, made eyeing the stamp even easier. The stamp was just a foam one I had but I do find many uses for it. The wood burning tool I had not used for years but had been wanting to do something with it for awhile. Reasonably priced and fun to work with. You may want to get some practice wood to try it on first.

wood box supplies

I applied gold acrylic paint to the stamp and stamped it on the wood. Took one of the finer point tips to insert in the burning tool and preheated. Traced around the design with the tool working towards me. Sometimes it can stick a bit and leave a larger burn mark but that is less noticeable when done. I painted over the design with the Lumiere Metallic Gold paint (the acrylic stamps better but the Lumiere shows up better)

wood box paint

wood box burn

Apply stain of your choice and add a urethane finish. You could also paint the box with acrylics and lightly sand to reveal design. This box could be used for any number of things including stashing a gift card inside.

Check out some other Homemade Gift Ideas to stitch and Ornaments to make

Let’s get crafting!!

All the best,

Diane Long

 

 

How to Dry herbs

How to dry herbs image

I just love having an herb garden! With little effort, nature produces tons of free herbs that last the entire year. It amazes me every spring to see the barren dead ground come alive and provide lush fresh herbs to be used in cooking, homemade scent blends, aromatherapy and more. Some of the herbs in my garden are mint, chives, sage, lemon balm, catnip, and oregano.

herb garden

Even if you don’t have a garden, you can have herbs, even tender perennials, inside on windowsill. You can also get herbs in season at the local farmers market and dry them yourself. I’ve found the best place to dry them is in the attic. The heat and dry air work wonderfully. If you don’t have an attic you can use, check with a neighbor. They might be willing to “rent” you the space in exchange for some herbs of their own.

Drying Herbs

When I purchase fruit, vegetables or herbs I always soak them in vinegar for a few minutes and rinse well. When I bring in herbs from the garden, I soak them for a few minutes in salt. If any little pests were carried in with the herbs, they will soon make a run from salt.

The easiest way to wash them is with a salad spinner. Let them soak for a few minutes in the basket, then lift out, rinse well and put the basket back in the salad spinner and spin. Stop the spinner, pour out any water, replace the basket and spin again. You probably won’t even need to pat them with a paper towel but you can if you like.

herb spin

The easiest containers to dry herbs on are the trays (flats) you get from the nursery that annual flowers come in.  There are a few different styles. I try to get the ones that are flat on the bottom but the other kind will work as well. Just lay the herbs out spreading them evenly across. If the flats you find have very large holes on the bottom you can cover it with a piece of screen.

When placing the trays in the attic, I rest them on small plastic bins (the kind in the dollar store that looks like a little laundry basket- has square openings on the sides) This way the trays are not on the floor but lifted up so that air can circulate all around. Check on them in a few days, they should be a crispy dry, with no signs of moisture.

herb dry

To make labels, I just typed up what I wanted and used a clear frame stamp. Stamp with clear ink, emboss with silver embossing powder. Simply cut out and run through a Xyron adhesive sticker maker. Store herbs in a glass jar in a cool dry space.

herb label

Dry herbs can also make a great gift! Take a jar of oregano and basil and add a jar of gourmet sauce and a pizza stone. Include a recipe for homemade pizza and you’re all set!

See what you can create with Summer’s bounty.

All the best,

Diane Long

Garden Tile Card

Garden Tile Card image

 

I really think that July is my favorite month. Seems to be the only month on the calendar where there are no major events to plan, deadlines, back to school, holiday prep (well, fourth of July is an easy one) There seems to be less cars on the road, everyone seems a bit more laid back, Things are growing, the corn is sweet, The days are sunny and the water is refreshing. So on one of these lazy days I wondered off into the craft studio.

Garden Tile Card

It is a pity this time of year is so brief, The flowers leave too soon. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy making flower themed cards, It lets me hold on to them a little bit longer.

You can use this technique with most any stamp and it’s fairly easy to do. For this particular flower stamp. (Outlines- no longer available) I stamped on glossy paper with India Ink. I colored the flowers with Prismacolor Markers. On the back I found the center and measured for four equal pieces and cut. Of course, you could do smaller tiles depending on the size of your stamp, being a square or rectangle design. I could have done this piece in 9 tiles for example. I would just take the measurement of the design and divide by 3 giving me 3 tiles across and 3 tiles down.

I went over all the edges of all the squares with a black sharpie marker. I just like not seeing white edges on the paper when I cut something out. Then I pressed the stamped side of the tile down on to a Versamark ink pad. Covered with UTEE (Ultra Thick Embossing Powder) that I placed in a tray. heat set. I did this with 2 more layers of UTEE. The final layer though, I didn’t completely heat with the heat gun, I placed them in the toaster oven at about 350 degrees on a ceramic tile. This helps the UTEE lay more evenly on the surface. After they cool completely, attach to a card with strong double sided adhesive.

Although I didn’t use the UTEE on this card, here is an example of using smaller tiles with words. It’s a great way to salvage a card you’ve made mistakes on. This is a Antique tile card using the UTEE.

Keep summer alive by creating something with flower tiles, and brighten someone’s day.

All the best,

Diane Long

 

Craft Storage Flea Market Find

Craft Storage Flea Market Find Image

Summer pastimes

One of Summer’s many pleasures that I enjoy is finding treasures and unusual things at tag sales and flea markets.  I think adding some one of a kind or refurbished pieces to your home gives depth and a rich character. They store memories of where you found them, what you were doing that day, or even how little your kids were at the time.

Craft storage flea market find

Believe it or not, when I laid my eyes on this, I didn’t even see the white cabinet sitting underneath the colored blue and pink little cabinet. There was so much stuff around it, and I was amazed that anybody would take such a cute piece and write on it with what I’m guessing was a bottle of fabric paints. I was thinking of all the sanding it would take to get off, and when I picked it up I saw the white one below. Well, that sealed the deal, sanding or no sanding, I had to have them both. They were marked with a combined total of $14 and with my negotiating skills brought it down to only ten bucks!

Wood cabinet flea market find

Wood cabinet flea market find

 

The process

It did take a fair amount of sanding to get that writing off but the task was much easier with the electric sander. My first mistake was spray painting on a hot and sticky day. It seemed to bring all the gnats out. As my shady spot was getting smaller in the afternoon, I had to keep the boxes closer together. The paint just dries way too quickly in the sun. My second mistake was choosing a spray paint with a lacquer finish. It was too glossy and there were imperfections that I didn’t get out with the sanding. This was going in my craft studio so total perfection was not my goal (ie; I’m lazy!)

craft storage boxes outside

After some re-sanding I went back to the trusty Rustoleum I normally use. Much better. After a few coats and a very gentle touch with steel wool, They looked much better. Also added a coat of paste wax to help the drawers slide better.

For the labels, I took a cereal box and cut out ovals. I used 2 Spellbinder dies that I’d taped together to give me an opening on the inside. Spray painted them with a few coats of gold. Keep in mind that if you go to spray paint something small like that, the spray will blow it away. I took a strip of green painters tape, laid it in a pizza box with the sticky side up and bringing the two ends down onto the box to secure the strip. Then I placed each cardboard oval onto the sticky tape.

When making the labels, I couldn’t commit to what supplies I wanted in each drawer. What if I changed my mind? What if I outgrew that drawer size and it didn’t hold enough? So, I came up with the general terms of Stuff, Things, Supplies and Crafts. I printed out 3 sets of them since I had a total of 12 drawers, traced outside the smaller oval Spellbinder around each title. I placed a piece of clear acetate over the titles and cut the oval through both the acetate and the paper.

gold oval

Next I cut narrow strips of scotch tape and taped the titles and the acetate to the back of the gold ovals and attached them onto the drawers with Wonder Tape

Craft storage closeup

Craft storage closeup

craft storage cabinet

craft storage cabinet

 

Now I get to decide what I’ll put in them. The largest drawer already has my Cuttlebug plates and the medium drawers can hold my Spellbinder dies. The rest will have to wait.

Have you picked up any great finds lately? Would love to hear about them!

All the best,

Diane Long

 

 

Yeast Recipes Made Easy

Yeast Recipes Made Easy

I just love to bake! Any warm sweet treats in the oven have my family running to the kitchen. Whether it’s cookies, muffins cakes or pies. No wonder recipes are the number one search on Pinterest! When scouring recipes, I often come across breads and baked goods requiring yeast. I was especially intrigued with the Pizza recipes. I loved the idea of making pizza dough in batches to freeze.

But, you know what happens when working with a recipe that requires yeast, you need to heat the water to an optimum temperature of between 110-120 degrees. (check package directions as brands differ)  So…..  you turn on the faucet until the water feels warm, test it and find it’s not quite hot enough.  You put it in the microwave for a few seconds, and it’s still not hot enough, so you put it in for a few more seconds. Now it’s too hot! So you add a bit of cold water. Back and forth you go trying to reach the magic number

The trick to avoiding all of this is by simply starting with water that’s always at a consistent temperature. Whether you get water from your refrigerator’s water dispenser or you keep a pitcher of water in the fridge, this is the water you want to use. Although the temperature of this water can fluctuate, It should only be slight.

Getting the water just right

Microwave it for 45 seconds. Take the temperature, put in for another 20 seconds or so, until you’ve reached the allowable range. Add up the total time it was in the microwave. Now take another cup of cold water from the fridge and microwave that for the total time you recorded for the other cup of water. Take the temperature and it should also be in the allowed range. This is your magic number! Right it with a Sharpie marker on the jar of yeast, stick it to the door of the fridge or put in your favorite cookbook. Now when you want to make a recipe calling for yeast, you just stick it in the microwave once, check the temperature, and the water should be just right.

Water Temp, Yeast Recipes Made Easy

Water Temp, Yeast Recipes Made Easy

Regardless of how much water the recipe may call for, as long as it’s a cup or less you will have the perfect temp, just pour out the excess.

Remember, whenever you replace your refrigerator or microwave, you’ll have to do this procedure all over again as appliances vary.

So, put away your doubts and start surfing Pinterest for some great yeast recipes.  One of my family’s favorites is Heritage English Muffin Toast

All the best,

Diane Long

 

Summer Blog Hop

awesome things

What’s more fun in the summer than having a party? I am joining Randi Sowders this week from Sowdering About In Seattle along with a great group of co hosts for the Awesome Things Tuesday Blog Hop!!  Come check it out! It’s a great place to meet bloggers, and see some terrific projects to make (or pin for later)

Feel free to connect and explore the hosts and participants, and if you’re a blogger, add your projects too!

 

PARTY TIME!

Welcome back to another week of Awesome Things Tuesday! We have some really exciting features today and a few new faces have joined our party!

This week’s features!

Amanda’s Pick: Patriotic Tote Bag from My Paper Craze

DIY Patriotic Tote Bag by My Paper Craze www.mypapercraze.com

Jenny’s Pick: Ice Cream and Popsicle Necklaces from Artzy Creations

final image 1

Victoria’s Pick: Sour Worm Popsicles from A Mom’s Take

Worm Popsicles

Krystal’s Pick: VW Bus Dresser from Never a Dull Day

Randi’s Pick: Dinosaur Unit for Tot’s from Every Star is Different

Ashley’s Pick: Sandpaper Gift Tags from Homework: Creative Inspiration

Sandpaper Father's Day Tags created by homework | carolynshomework.com

And the most clicked link from last week…

Patriotic Busy Bag from Crafty Journal

Patriotic Busy Bag - Crafty Journal

We have a new guest host this week, Diane from Creative Destinations Guide! Make you check her out on facebook, Pinterest and twitter!

Now that you’ve seen last weeks features go check out these other amazing women and what they’ve been up to!

PicMonkey Collage

Victoria Schilke – My Little Birds / Facebook / Pinterest
Amanda Corbet – Krafting Kreations / Facebook / Pinterest
Jenny Phillips Porter – Satsuma Designs / Facebook / Pinterest / Twitter

 

Awesome Things Tuesday

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We’ve also created a Pinterest board dedicated to the awesome things you
link up each week! Make sure you are following it because we will be pinning
ALL of our favorites links, not just the features!

Follow Sowdering About’s board Awesome Things Tuesday on Pinterest.

 

Please read and follow the rules before adding your link.

1. You may link up as many projects as you would like. They need to be YOUR creations and projects.

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Dad Scrapbook Layout

Our Dad Scrapbook Layout image

Our Dad

Although my dad has been gone many years now, I wanted to make this page in honor of Father’s Day. These are a few of my favorite pictures of him and I wanted to keep the page simple as to not distract from the photos.

I especially love the one of my mom and dad together. That was their engagement picture. I remember it beautifully framed on the mantle of my grandmother’s house and just staring at it. Such a glamorous shot. They looked like movie stars.

Our Dad Scrapbook Layout

Our Dad Scrapbook Layout

It’s amazing to think of it but my dad and all three of his brothers were in the war at the same time. All my grandparents had to hold onto was four framed photos of their beloved sons- their whole world. As a parent, I couldn’t imagine such a thing.

Dad Scrapbook Layout

I wanted to capture the vintage feel and the glamour of the time so I settled on this frosted brown paper from DCWY Luxury Stack. After stumbling on this solid pewter-ish paper I knew they had to be together. Again, I wanted to keep the layout simple and focus on the photos, Couldn’t bear to even crop them.

Whether or not you will be with your dad this Father’s Day, I hope that you can find some way to honor him, and celebrate his importance in your life.

All the best,

Diane Long

 

 

Mason Jar Card – Fireflies in a Jar

Mason Jar Car fireflies in a jar

Fireflies in a jar

I’d had this mason jar rubber stamp on my desk for ages, trying to think of something to do with it. It has been 2 years since I lost my brother and I was thinking about how incredibly funny he was. I started recollecting about all the many summer nights we used to catch fireflies: or lightning bugs as we called them. Well, one night our mom called us in as it was getting late. We’d collected so many fireflies that we brought our jars inside for show. My brother was older, so I really didn’t know any better than to listen to him when he said “take the lid off”

You can imagine what the house began to look like as these tiny blinking beings were spreading throughout the rooms. When I saw what was happening, I quickly jumped into bed and pretended to be asleep. Needless to say, that was merely one of the many, many pranks he pulled on us.

Mason Jar Card

Working with inkjet printable acetate. I stamped the jar (Inkadinkado) and the fly (unknown) with India Ink. Also stamped the jar on a piece of white cardstock. Colored the flies in with a yellow Painty marker on the front of the fly. Went over it with iridescent watercolor. Painted the lid with a silver Sharpie marker.

jar step 5

 

 

When the flies were dry I outlined the bottom with yellow sharpie marker and took a bit of Blending Solution on a brush and blended the color outward.

On the white card, I ripped a piece of scrap paper to use as a mask and added various blue inks shown (lighter to darker) with a Color Box applicator, also added a bit of pink. Did the same with the greens. Cut out the jar shape with a utility knife.

jar step 2jar step 3jar step 4

To layer the card, I taped the acetate pieces on the back of the cut out. then a piece of white vellum behind it, followed by a gold piece of vellum. This helps give the illusion of light shining through glass.

What summer memories can you recreate?

All the best,

Diane Long