30 November, 2011

D is for Decorations

Day 4 of my HANDMADE HOLIDAYS project and we are on the letter D:

 My Pinterest board is full of wonderful Christmas decoration ideas.  Today I want to share several of my favorites.

I absolutely love David Stark's TWINE SNOWMEN PROJECT for Design Sponge!

Jessica Okui from Zakka Life shares a cute and easy tutorial for PAPER STARS made out of music sheets.

I really like the idea of CLAY CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS like those by Sania Pell.

Scrappy Canuck - a fellow scrapbooking crafter from Crop Chocolate, explains how she made BEAUTIFUL TABLE DECOR for her Christmas celebration.

Last but not least are Elise Blaha's HOLIDAY STARS - great way to add some wall decor to your house over the holidays.

Don't forget to grab Handmade Holiday button and come back tomorrow for more Holiday goodness:

SAS does

29 November, 2011

C is for Cookies (Cinnamon roll cookies)

My last cookie recipe of the day is from the "Holiday Cookies" book.

(30-32 cookies)
What you need
For the filling:
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon

For the dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

What to do
  • For the filling combine sugar and 2 tbsp cinnamon in a small bowl, set aside.  Whisk flour, baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, and salt together for the dough in a bowl; set aside.
  • Cream butter and brown sugar in a bowl with a mixer until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla; mix until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients, blending just to incorporate; do not over mix.
  • Trace a 16-x-9-inch rectangle on a sheet of parchment or wax paper. Pat the dough into the rectangle using your hands, then sprinkle half the cinnamon mixture over the dough.
  • Beginning on a long side and using the paper to help you, roll the dough into a log. Dust the outside of the log with the remaining cinnamon mixture. Wrap log in plastic and chill for at least 3 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350F; line tow baking sheets with parchment paper.  Slice chilled dough into 1/4-inch thick slices and arrange on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack.

Don't forget to check my Pinterest board for more cookie ideas.
See you tomorrow!
More cookies recipes:

C is for Cookies (Apricot, Sage and Earl Grey tea)

Here are 2 more of my favorite Christmas cookies:

What you need

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp snipped fresh sage, lemon thyme, or rosemary, or 2 teaspoons dried sage or rosemary, crushed
3 tbsp milk
1 tablespoon water
Fresh sage leaves (optional)
2 tbsp apricot preserve

What to do
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, and cornmeal. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Stir in fresh herb. Add milk and stir with a fork to combine. Form mixture into a ball and knead until smooth. Divide dough in half.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time until 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2-1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out dough.
  • If desired, top half of the cutouts with one or two small sage leaves. Sprinkle with sugar. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake about 7 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.
  • Snip any large pieces of fruit in apricot preserves. Spread the bottoms of cookies without sage leaves with preserves. Top with sage-topped cookies, flat sides down. Makes 16 sandwich cookies.
  • To Store: Place in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze unfilled cookies up to 3 months. Thaw cookies; fill.
Cookies should be fairly thin
Most of sage leaves of my cookies dried up in the oven so I just sprinkled some granulated sugar.
Be generous with the apricot preserve!!!

Image from Better Homes and Gardens

What you need

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp Earl Grey tea leaves, from approximately 6 tea bags
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

What to do
  • Heat oven to 375° F. Pulse together all the dry ingredients in a food processor until the tea leaves are pulverized. Add vanilla, 1 tsp water, and butter. Pulse together until dough is formed.

  • Divide dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a 12-inch log, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

  • Slice each log into disks, 1/3 inch thick. Place on parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.
Image from Real Simple
More cookies recipes:

C is for Cookies (Fruit cookies)

Here are my favorite vegan fruit cookies:

(55 cookies)
What you need

2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp of Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 4 tbsp of water (to replace 2 large eggs)
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
Cooking spray

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp grated orange rind

What to do
  • Preheat oven to 350°.To prepare cookies, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, quick-cooking oats, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and ground nutmeg in a bowl.
  • Combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, and coconut oil in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and egg replacer; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture and cranberries; beat at low speed until combined.
  • Shape dough into 55 (1-inch) balls. Place the balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until almost firm. Let stand on the baking sheets 2 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheets; cool completely on a wire rack.
  • To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and remaining ingredients in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Spoon mixture into a small zip-top plastic bag. Snip a small hole in 1 corner of bag; drizzle glaze over cooled cookies.

(16 squares)
What you need

1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dark raisins
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup snipped dried apricots
1/2 cup brandy or water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter (I used coconut oil)
3 tsp of Ener-G egg replacer, mixed with 4 tbsp of water (equivalent of 2 eggs)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Powdered sugar

What to do
  • Place raisins, cranberries, apricots, and brandy or water in a saucepan; bring to boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes; drain.
  • For crust, in a medium mixing bowl stir together the 1 cup flour and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Cut in "butter" until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into an ungreased 8x8x2-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes or until golden.
  • In a medium mixing bowl beat "eggs" with an electric mixer on low speed for 4 minutes; stir in the 1 cup brown sugar, the 1/2 cup flour, and vanilla just until combined. Add drained fruits and pecans; stir to mix. Pour fruit mixture over baked crust; spread evenly.
  • Bake about 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, covering with foil the last 10 minutes to prevent over-browning. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. To serve, cut into squares

Image via BHG
More cookies recipes:

C is for Cookies (Lime wreaths)

These are my absolute favorite cookies for any occasion.  The original recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook.

(~ 2 dozens)
What you need
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp finely grated lime zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes total)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

What to do
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl; set aside.
  • Put granulated sugar and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed 1 minute. Add butter, and mix until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in vanilla and lime juice. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, halve the dough. Flatten each half into a 10-inch disk, and wrap each in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Working with 1 half at a time, roll out dough on parchment paper to 1/8 inch thick. Cut shapes from dough with a 3-inch flower-shape cookie cutter. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cut a hole in center of each with a 1-inch round cutter. Repeat with remaining disk. Wrap scraps in plastic. Freeze 30 minutes; reroll, and cut.
  • Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until set, 12 to 13 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Before serving, sift confectioners' sugar over cookies.
More cookies recipes:

C is for Cookies (Vegan shortbread and Viennese coffee balls)

Today I decided to do something different for the HANDMADE HOLIDAYS project. Instead of posting my favorite Christmas cookies from the blogosphere, I will bring back tried and true recipes I used during this time of the year.
Throughout today I will be posting several cookie recipes and pinning them to my C IS FOR CHRISTMAS COOKIES Pinterest board.

Let's begin with a veganized version of a classic shortbread:


What you need:

1 cup vegan margarine
½ cup sugar
3 tsp almond extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

What to do:
  • Preheat oven to 275
  • Cream margarine and gradually add sugar. Stir in the almond extract. Work in the flour ½ cup at a time.
  • On a floured board knead dough for at least 10 minutes.  Pat and roll dough so it is ½ inch thick.
  • You can now cut different shapes out of the dough.  Last time I made these shortbread cookies they didn't hold their shapes very good.  They also "melted" quite a bit in the oven, so leave a generous spacing between your cookies (~1 inch)
  • Poke each piece 2 or 3 times with a fork and bake for 30 minutes or until cookies become slightly golden brown around the edges. 

Using these shortbread cookies you can make:

Makes about 30 cookies

What you need:

2 cups crushed shortbread cookies
1-1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 cup finely chopped nuts
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoons instant coffee crystals or instant espresso powder 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 to 5 tablespoons brewed espresso or strong coffee, or water
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
Sifted powdered sugar (optional)

What to do:
  • In a large mixing bowl combine crushed cookies, 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, nuts, cocoa powder, coffee crystals, and cinnamon. Add brewed espresso, coffee, or water, using just enough to moisten.
  • Form "dough" into 1 1/4-inch balls and roll generously in powdered sugar. Place on a sheet of waxed paper and let stand until dry (about 1 hour).  
  • Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Before serving, roll again in powdered sugar, if desired.  
More cookies recipes:

28 November, 2011

B is for Bows

Today is day 2 of our HANDMADE HOLIDAY countdown. And the letter of the day is:

And these are my 5 favorite tutorials:

I think the PINWHEEL BOW would look great in red and green.

Amy from Strands of Sunshine shares her tutorial for a PAPER SPIKE BOW at Artmind

And finally, make your own FELT BOWS, following the tutorial at Christmas your way

For more bow ideas follow my Pinterest board: B IS FOR BOWS and do not forget to check back tomorrow for the letter C.

27 November, 2011

A is for Advent Calendars

It's time to begin my Christmas Countdown for all things handmade. Today's letter is A:

I have been collecting my favorite advent calendar tutorials and images on my A IS FOR ADVENT CALENDAR board.  It was quite difficult to choose only 5 to post here but these are my final picks:

Being a big fan of origami I really like Lorajean's ORIGAMI ADVENT CALENDAR.  Lorajean made it out of craft paper but it would look as nice in coloured or patterned paper.

Meredith Church, from Lily Janet Stationery shares her CREATIVE ADVENT CALENDAR: make a paper chain-garland and use each link to write an activity for the day.  I think it makes for a fun way to spend December days.

Benita from Chez Larsson shares a SIMPLE AND STYLISH ADVENT CALENDAR she made for her 17 year old son.  

Nicole from VisualHeart has a step-by-step tutorial for HER VERSION OF THE ADVENT CALENDAR.  I am looking forward to see what she would pin on it.

I absolutely love Dana's (Made) idea of a BOOK ADVENT CALENDAR.  Spending time reading Christmas stories with children is an amazing way to count 25 days till holidays.

What are your favorite Advent Calendars?  Maybe you are working on one and would like to share it?  Leave a comment or email
See you tomorrow!

Pin It

26 November, 2011

Weekend colours

I decided to have some Christmas colours on this blog and today's palette is also quite Christmas-y:

 Here is the beautiful image that inspired me.  I found this shot on Pinterest so it was a little bit difficult to trace it back to the author/photographer.

 If I am not mistaken the original comes from the NORDINGARDEN blog.

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21 November, 2011

Handmade Holidays 2011

With December holidays rapidly approaching I am feeling giddy yet overwhelmed: there are just too many things that are needed to be doe before the 24th: decorating, cooking, cleaning, gift buying and wrapping ...
Like many of you I want my holiday time to be stress-free and merry. I also want this year's holidays to be less commercial and more handmade: I am planning on making decorations, baking cookies, and surprising my family with handmade gifts. But where to begin? What should I do first?
And then it dawned on me: why not separate all my tasks by letters and concentrate on one letter per day. With 25 days before Christmas I will have my Cookies and Decorations, my Menu and Presents ready on time!

Here is an adapted version of my original schedule: instead of waiting for the first of December I decided to begin a little bit earlier to have enough time for my Advent calendar and to have some free time before the 24th.

Starting on the 27th November I will be posting my favorite tutorials and ideas for the letter of the day.  I will also be adding holiday goodness to my PINTEREST BOARDS.

Want to play along?  Grab the Handmade Holiday button:

SAS does

follow my boards on Pinterest, check out daily handmade holiday posts, or better yet, EMAIL ME YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY CREATIONS (handmadeholidays2011@gmail.com) and get featured at SAS-DOES.

To get you started, here are some of MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS CREATIONS from last year.

19 November, 2011

Weekend colours

Today's palette is inspired by this viral image.  Unfortunately I can not find the original so the photographer who captured the beautiful moment remains unknown.

I've made a second version of the palette later on and decided to share it with you:

Can't decide which one I like better ...

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16 November, 2011

Cupid card - Lovingly line

Before the holiday craziness will sweep this blog I want to share the new line I created for BRASS AND RUFFLES. "Lovingly"-  is about butterflies, birds, light colours, and love.  Here is a sneak peak of the first card for you, my dear readers.

This is CUPID card

The colour combo of this card is quite unusual for me

but I really like how all the elements got tied together

I also really like the background - those cute little cupids make me smile every time I look at the card.

Unlike postcards from LECHATELIER LINE, this one is a card (it opens!).  I left inside blank for your very own personal message to someone you love.

Over the next few days I will be adding 4 cards and an album to my ETSY STORE.  I will be sharing them over here as well, so don't forget to check back.

15 November, 2011


I decided to share a couple of books that recently caught my attention

THE HANDMADE MARKETPLACE by Kari Chapin has been out for a little bit less than a year.  From what I've read so far, this "manual" is great for beginners and covers a wide range of topics from "creating your own brand" to "using blog to promote your craft business". 

THE ARTIST'S WAY is a 12-week course touch by Julia Cameron.  I have discovered Julia's website by accident and am quite anxious to complete the course by following THE ARTIST'S WAY book.

I've heard and read about THE HAPPINESS PROJECT before and although I consider myself a happy person I would love to read about Gretchen's quest for a happier life.

Another accidental discovery - Betty Edwards method of teaching drawing:
..."learning to draw" means learning to make a mental shift from L-mode to R-mode. That is what a person trained in drawing does, and that is what you can learn.
I would love to give this method a try and get a copy of THE NEW DRAWING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BRAIN.

13 November, 2011

day 1

The last day before my 30th birthday I spent with my friends - walking around Montreal.  I've spotted this frog and thought that it was a great symbol of how I want to feel in my 30s - zen and quirky.


10 fun weekly links

Here is 10 fun internet places I discovered this week:
Image by Viktor Hertz via 2photo.ru

  • ROLLIP - one of my favorite online software for adding effects to your images.

12 November, 2011

days 3 and 2

I've spent most of Thursday teaching so I decided to take some pictures of the training room.  It looks more welcoming in real life but it definitely needs some decor:

And for Friday I finished my 30 THINGS list:

10 November, 2011

days 5 and 4

On Tuesday, JP (my father-in-law) had a doctor's appointment in Montreal so I got a rare opportunity to be driven to the city (usually I travel by bus).  The day was gorgeous: warm and sunny.  It almost felt like spring, if not for the half-naked trees:

I've been wanting to snap a couple of shots of Champlain bridge for a while.  Tuesday was the perfect opportunity.  This is my favorite part of the bridge.

And here is a beautiful view of Montreal

Just before getting out of the car I snapped an auto portrait.

For day 4 I wrote the second part of my 30 THINGS...

day 6

With my birthday less than a week away I decided to write down 30 things I'd like to do before I turn 31.  Here is the first part:

08 November, 2011

days 8 and 7

We were blessed with a sunny weekend so Eric and I headed outside to finish planting bulbs (crocuses, alliums, tulips, daffodils) and to begin the endless process of collecting fallen leaves.

I was sad to remove all the annual flowers from the flowerbed - it looks so bare now.  Another month or so and everything will be covered knee-deep with white snow... But if you look closely you can see the first signs of spring - tiny tight leaf buds waiting patiently to turn into beautiful green foliage.