Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I'm still here!

Yes, hard to believe, isn't it?

My hubby and I just got back from a week-long trip to Iowa to visit my family. I brought my computer along with the intent to blog, but it just never happened. We were busy from sun-up to sun-down! No, actually, we really just relaxed and took it slow. It was lovely.


The weather back here in TX is much warmer than in Iowa... no snow here! We are just enjoying getting back into the groove of things... and I reeeaaallly need to go grocery shopping. (Don't you just hate having to go get groceries immediately after a trip? We're usually lazy about it and just eat junk for a few days because there is nothing fresh in the house... bad but true.)

Anyway, I just wanted to re-surface here again, since it's been like 2 weeks. Yikes. I've been reading a lot about being sure to include pictures of yourself on your blog (here), so please enjoy this picture of me in all my wintertime glory.

Can you believe tomorrow is February?! I can't!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Heart linzer cookies

A co-worker (and friend!) of mine got married today. It was an absolutely gorgeous day... 70+ degrees and sunny. I bet when they planned their wedding for JANUARY they never expected weather like this... not even in Texas. It was lovely and I am so happy for them.

Instead of having a wedding cake, Lindsey, a self-described "cookie monster", decided to have a cookie table. She asked anyone who was willing and able to bring cookies for her cookie table, which was available for snacking on during the reception. Then, as favors, the bride and groom provided take-home bags to fill up with cookies. How fun.

I decided to make these linzer-style cookies with heart cut-outs. A linzer cookie is basically a sandwich cookie with a cut-out on top so that you can see the filling. They are generally filled with jam, but I decided to use frosting... because who doesn't like frosting?

Valentine's Day heart linzer cookies with pink and white frosting

I used a basic sugar cookie recipe and a Wilton brand linzer cookie cutter I bought on sale after Christmas (here). It has 6 different shapes that you can switch out for the center cut-out. However, you don't need a special cutter. You could use a plain circle shape or a biscuit cutter, and then cut out a smaller shape in the center. I know I don't have itty bitty tiny cookie cutters like the heart shape in my baking supplies, but I do have some with my polymer clay supplies, so you might have to be creative, but it would work! I think it would be very cute for Valentine's day to cut a big heart shape as the sandwich and a smaller heart as the center cut-out.

Valentine's Day heart linzer cookies with pink and white frosting

I cheated and used a store-bought can of frosting for the filling, but you could use your favorite frosting recipe if you prefer. I split it and colored half of it pink and I think the cookies turned out just sweet. And they looked adorable on the table with all the other beautiful cookies at today's wedding. What fun.

Valentine's Day heart linzer cookies with pink and white frosting

All these hearts have gotten me in the a Valentine's Day frame of mind. I really want to make some fun Valentine's Day decorations for the house, but I don't quite know what to make. Any good suggestions?

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fortune cookie cat toy tutorial

So, this Christmas I came to the realization that I am the kind of person who can't find the time to send out Christmas cards to her friends and family... but has more than enough time to sew colorful catnip-filled cat toys for every cat that I know. And I know a lot of cats. (co-workers' cats, parents' cats, in-laws' cats, friends' cats... the list goes on)

This is not a fact that I am particularly proud of, but admitting that I have a problem is the first step... right?

And those of you who expected a Christmas card and didn't receive one... sorry. It's nothing personal, I promise. I plan to start my Christmas cards months in advance next year... errr, THIS year. Is Christmas creeping up on me already?!

Anyway, I hope you will agree with me that these fortune cookie shaped cat toys are super cute. And if you have a cat in your life, or several, you will be happy to learn that they are also super easy to make. As in, you could probably whip up a dozen of them in less than an hour. (Writing out Christmas cards would have definitely taken me waaay longer than that...)

diy fortune cookie cat toy tutorial

And all the cats who received them in their stockings sent rave reviews. So rest assured that your efforts will be tremendously appreciated.

diy fortune cookie cat toy tutorial

diy fortune cookie cat toy tutorial

You will need:

* a circle of felt in your chosen color (I used a spool of fishing line to trace my circle... it was about 3.5 inches in diameter. You could use a drinking glass or any similar-sized circular object)

* a small long-ish rectangle of felt (this will be the "fortune" sticking out of the fortune cookie. it's probably best if you use white felt for this. I didn't have white and used tan, but the cats didn't seem to notice)

* a bit of stuffing

* catnip! (not required, but always enticing to your friends of the feline variety)

diy fortune cookie cat toy tutorial

First, fold your circle in half and sew about an inch along the center of the folded edge. (This will be on the inside of the fortune cookie)

diy fortune cookie cat toy tutorial

Next, fold your cookie in half the other way. This seems confusing and indeed, it took me a minute or two to figure it out. Basically, you will take the two "corners" from the last step and pull them towards each other, then flip the felt inside-out. Play around with it a bit, you'll figure it out.

diy fortune cookie cat toy tutorial

Then start sewing around the edge of your cookie, making sure to sew the "paper fortune" in between the two layers of felt, as shown. Stop when you're about half way around, but don't take the cookie off your sewing machine.

diy fortune cookie cat toy tutorial

This is where you add the stuffing. It doesn't need much. I added two little bundles of stuffing to each of my cookies... one I pushed in gently to the back section of the cookie, and the other in the front section. I made sure to sprinkle some catnip in with the stuffing.

diy fortune cookie cat toy tutorial

Then sew around the rest of the cookies, enclosing the stuffing and the catnip... and you're done!

diy fortune cookie cat toy tutorial

Fluff the cookie up a little to give it the correct shape, and then it is ready to be played with by your favorite furry friend.

fortune cookie cat toys

My cats knew I was making something for them, and even though I kept shooing them away, both of them kept sneaking up onto my sewing table to steal cookies. Naughty.

fortune cookie cat toys

There you have it! A fun little project for any time of the year!
(and I'm not a crazy cat lady, I promise. I just like cute little projects!)

diy fortune cookie cat toy tutorial


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Friday, January 6, 2012

Ugh

A random post.

My car got smashed up last Friday. Another girl switched lanes directly into my car. Between dealing with insurance and rental cars and general nonsense, I'm so over it. But... no one was hurt, the car can be fixed, we both had insurance, everyone was friendly... I guess the best possible outcome when dealing with an accident.

Anyway. I've just been a little distracted and haven't felt much in the blogging mood. Because I knew that if I blogged, I would be negative and whiny and I really didn't want to put you through that.

But maybe I just need to get it out of my system?

Yesterday was my birthday.

I've only completed 7 of my 30 before 30 goals. Now I only have 2 years left, but 23 goals to complete, so I really need to step it up a notch. I'll let you know how that goes. I really can't believe how fast the time has gone. Crazy.

Hubby and I went out for dinner tonight. For my birthday. Because the restaurant I wanted to go to isn't open for dinner on Thursdays. Because this is just not my week. Anyway, we went to a German restaurant and had wiener schnitzel and spaetzel and we bobbed up and down to live polka music and it just generally made me very happy. And then we came home and stuffed our faces with ice cream cake. So I guess life isn't so bad.

my adorable kitty cat Scooter

I've been wanting to post my New Year's Goals as well. Only problem is that I can't really pin anything down. I've decided that it's hard to make New Year's goals when you have a birthday as close to New Year's as I do. I mean, who wants to start a diet four days before their birthday? Not me. And then, the birthday gets extended to celebrate with family over the weekend... then we've made plans to visit Iowa at the end of the month (diet probably not happening there)... and then it's Valentine's Day... So yeah, diet is probably out.

Instead, I think I'm going to try to make other people happy. I have a huge stash of greeting cards that I've kind of quit using. I've quit posting birthday messages (actually any messages) on Facebook, even to my good friends. I'm lazy about replying to emails. My New Year's goal is to make more of an effort to keep in touch with people who are important to me and to commit random acts of happiness. More gifting people for no reason. More treats to work. More little notes. More smiles. Maybe it will rub off and make me happier too. And then I won't have to bore you with horribly self-centered blog posts like this. We can only hope.

(I do have a crafty post coming up, so at least you can look forward to that!)

(And I'm sure I'll snap out of this dumpy mood soon!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 in review

I debated doing a year-in-review, but then I remembered how nice it was last year. Even though it had seemed like a crappy year, going though month by month really put everything in perspective. So even though I'm a day late and a dollar short... here's a little review of what happened in my life in the year 2011.


In January we took a week-long trip to Iowa to visit my family for Christmas. It was a lovely trip, filled with beautiful drives, baking, antique shopping and digging through family treasures.


In February, I shared images of the Valentines my grandmother was given as a little girl. We had horrible ice and snow storms here in Texas and ended up with quite a few days home from work. (Hoping that might happen again this year!)


In March, my husband went with me to the Texas State Button Show. We had a great time rifling through boxes of beautiful buttons. I'm looking forward to this year's show!


April was all about my marshmallow peep bunny and chick patterns. They ended up enormously popular and gained my blog many new followers (thank you!). They are still my most-visited pages. I had so much fun making peeps for myself and my family.


In May I took a work-related trip to Houston. It was a fun experience. In addition to networking and meeting new people, I had the chance to visit a ranch, see several museums and hear some great speakers.


In June I started my granny square blanket. I have begun to call it my never-ending blanket. I have about 30 squares done, but need to make 90 more before I can stitch it together. I really should hop back on this project or it may never get finished!


In July, hubby and I took a road trip to Colorado. We saw amazing scenery, went hiking, panned for gold and had an all-around great time.


In August I took a short trip to Iowa for my sister's bridal shower. In addition to the shower, I was able to go canoeing, spend time with family and just enjoy the beautiful Iowa weather. (We were still in the middle of a historic heat wave in TX.)


In September, we drove back up to Iowa for my sister's wedding. She was beautiful, everything went off without a hitch and we all had a wonderful time with family and friends.


In October, my job became permanent, which was a big deal for me. I also made fun fabric pumpkins, we carved real pumpkins and we bought storybook pumpkins to decorate our step. Lots of pumpkins.


November was busy but kind of uneventful. We spent Thanksgiving alone painting our back entryway (still not finished!) and making a super fancy dinner of beef wellingtons. I also sewed my first real piece of clothing, but unfortunately it doesn't fit.


December was busy. We got our first real Christmas tree, which was exciting. I felt like I spent all month making various treats and goodies, most of which I shared on my blog. We spent Christmas at my in-laws and had a lovely time.


There you have it. Nothing too dramatic, but an all-round nice year. I was amused by how many of the big things each month were blog-related, but I guess it makes perfect sense, because those are the types of things I would share here. Here's hoping next year will be filled with even more joy, love, family and friends.