Monday, February 21, 2011

It pretty much goes without saying that I am a pretty crappy blogger. When it comes to my list of things I'm motivated to do during the day, updating this blog is probably number 99 out of 100 (with number 100 being scrapbooking). However, checking and updating my Facebook page probably falls at number 4 (after feeding, schooling my youngins, and crafting sweets).

I figure it would be smarter for me to start a fan page for my shop, since I'm on Facebook anyway, and making stuff for my shop is how I spend my free time -- I haven't really been making other crafts unless they are for school. I won't be shutting down this blog since there come a time I feel the urge to blog, I just don't know when.

The purpose of my facebook page will be to share pictures of my newest creations, share some other cool Etsy shops, share Treasuries that feature my goodies, and my favorite part -- host giveaways. I realized I just don't have a big enough following on my blog for decent giveaways, so Facebook will be where the magic happens. Please join me on Facebook, it should be a lot of fun!!/pages/Sewn-Sweets/190368050996643

Friday, December 10, 2010

MY Sugar Cookie Recipe and Buttercream Frosting

I won't call this recipe the best since there are so many out there, but it is MY absolute favorite and I have been using it for over 10 years. This recipe makes nice, thick, and SOFT sugar cookies -- so if you are one of those weirdos that likes thin, cripy sugar cookies, you can just take a hike.

3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Sift dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the egg and vanilla. Mix well. Add sour cream and mix well again. Slowly add in your dry ingredients until combined. If your dough is too sticky, refrigerate for awhile to make it easier to handle.

The next part is very important to the quality of your cookies. Separate your dough into two balls (just to make it easier to roll out). Form into a round disk and start to roll out. DO NOT use too much flour when you roll your dough, using too much will make your cookies tough (darn gluten). You can even use powdered sugar to roll out your dough which will not make your cookies tough. Roll out your dough to 1/4" thick - No thinner! Use a ruler if necessary. Cut out your shapes however you like, being mindful to use your dough space as you're cutting wisely. You really only want to roll out your dough twice since working it and rerolling it and adding more flour will start to affect the quality of your cookie.
Your oven needs to be preheated to 350 degrees. Leave about 1-2 inches between your cookies on the sheet. Bake your cookies for FOUR minutes, rotate your pan, then bake for an additional TWO minutes (sometimes my first batch needs 3 minutes after I rotate the pan, but my oven gets a bit warmer the longer I leave it on, and 2 minutes usually does the trick). Take the cookies out even though they may not look done - they are! Do not be fooled. I pity the fool that leaves these babies in too long. Transfer your cookies immediately to a cooling rack, then use your spatula to swat your kids hands away.

Me and my kids can eat these cookies by the dozen just as they are - bare. However, if you must frost, frost with this:

1 cup softened butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 tbs. whole milk or whipping cream

I start beating my butter and slowly add in the powdered sugar, then vanilla, then milk. I like to warm my milk just a bit so its coldness doesn't affect my nicely softened butter. Whip that up until it is your desired consistency. Frost away.
Pictures are from valentine's day 2009 - we have yet to make these for Christmas yet, but we will, oh yes, we will.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Decorating Idea for the Holidays - Peppermints!

I love the holiday look of red and white peppermints. I found these ornaments at Kohls and spent about $8.oo on all three (they were 50% off). I knew right when I saw them what I wanted to do.
In true Shana fashion I copied one of my old crafts instead of coming up with something new -- I just changed the colors from my Halloween cardstock circle garland to red and white. These are just paper circles fed through your sewing machine one right after the other. I used 4 different sized circle punches and created strands of varying length of in white, red, and then ones with red and white mixed, sometimes layering the colors together.
My peppermint ornaments had glitter on them so I thought it would be fun to add glitter to the white circles. I liked the effect, but I wouldn't say working with glitter is fun. It's messy and no matter how careful you are - you will spill it. Promise.
I used white sewing thread to hang the ornaments, then attached them to the ceiling with a thumbtack -- please note, the ornaments I used were plastic so they weren't too heavy, be mindful of how heavy the ornaments you choose are or you might have trouble hanging them. The circle strands will only need a bit of tape since they are so light. I have this arrangement hanging over the counter in my kitchen.
This was fun and easy, with the hardest part being taking a picture of the finished product that didn't show my dirty kitchen - you can bet I trimmed that picture above to cut out my messy countertops and sink full of dirty dishes.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Gift Card Holders

I know a lot of people dislike giving gift cards as gifts. Something about them being too impersonal or not very thoughtful. I don't mind giving or getting them, but if you do, here's a quick craft to increase your gift card's thoughtfulness.
I am very comfortable with felt. If you prefer a different medium, like fabric or scrapbooking materials -- go for it. This could easily be made with fleece or card stock and scrapbooking embellishments.

I cut two rectangles of felt 4 3/8 x 2 5/8. I found my reindeer pattern online simply by googling 'reindeer outline.' You may have to copy the image into your word processing program to adjust the size. You can add a pre-made embellishment as well - they are sold in a lot of forms at the craft store - felt, foam, paper - use whatever design you like. If you are a scrapbooker, you most likely have something in your stash you could use. If you're a sewer, you most likely could whip up one of those cute yo-yo flowers from your scraps to put on. The possibililtes are endless.
Once I had the front done, I attached them together using a blanket stitch, leaving one end open, then sewing a button on for closure. Scrapbookers - you can attach eyelets for ribbon to thread through and tie in bow.

To add to the gift card, I attached the whole thing to a Scentsy bar (because who doesn't love Scentsy?). You could attach it to your loved one's favorite candy bar or a bottle of their favorite lotion -- any small thing to add to the gift card to make it a bit more personal.
hmmm. . .who could be getting a Joann gift card from me?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Before and After Plus an Easy Halloween Craft

and after...
This is the area between the living room/front entry and the dining room/kitchen. We got this red side table at a SLC thrift/antique store a long time ago. I have always loved decorating around it. I thought my Halloween tree was a bit bare so this year I shopped around for a new addition, though they were either way over priced or too cheaply made, so I made my own.
I've had this idea in my mind for awhile and I even saw someone selling garlands like this on Etsy for some crazy price like $15.00 for six feet. Boo. All you will need is cardstock, a circle punch, and a sewing machine. If you don't have a circle punch, borrow one from your friend, or use one for free from your local scrapbook shop. Warning - do not attempt this without using a punch.

I choose 6 coordinating colors and punched away. I used the smallest punch I own - a 3/4" circle since this was going on a small tree. If you are going to hang your garland from a mantle or hang a bunch of strands from your ceiling I'd suggest a bigger sized circle punch, it will be quicker. For me, the 3/4" worked best and it took just 10 minutes to sew about six feet.
It is actually really easy to sew paper. It needs very little guidance - once the foot grabs it, you're good to go to feed another circle in. You can choose to space your circles farther apart, or keep them fairly close like I did.
All that was left was for me to string them up on my tree.
Though no sooner had I done so, two crows flew in and took up residence.
I think my Halloween tree is complete. It would be fun to try other color combinations like black, green, purple, and white (witch colors) or go for orange, red, yellow, and brown for fall.
Crows are from Micheal's, on sale now for $2.50 a piece.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Make Your Own Paper Patterns

Just a quick how-to for the apples in my previous post. It is quick and easy, and makes a nice, even, almost diecut-machine quality pattern.
You probably used this method as a child to make hearts for Valentine's Day. Just fold your paper in half, draw half of a heart, or half of whatever shape you are making, then cut out. You control the size and shape.
I make all of my own patterns for my shop, and I use this method for a lot of them. Most of my patterns look like this:
Which I use to turn into this:
Or this:
If it is a pattern that you are going to be using over and over again, or one that you are going to let your children use, copy your pattern onto heavy cardstock or posterboard for durability. Sneak peek for next week - I'll be posting some before and after shots of my house decorated for Halloween. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

'Happy Fall' Wreath

This was a simple wreath I did with my kids in school to help celebrate the coming season. Apples are ready to harvest in the fall so I thought this would be a fun alternative to leaves or pumpkins for a wreath.

You can also take this opportunity to teach your kids about Jonny Appleseed, an American Legend. Chances are, your kiddos might not know what a 'legend' is, and in this case, Mr. Appleseed is based on a actual person that played an important role in our country's early years.

Another thing this craft teaches, is patterns. So far in my homeschooling, patterns have popped up in Kindergarten - 2nd grade levels. We've been playing with them in our lessons, so it was fun to incorporate this skill into a craft.

You can control your kids involvement depending on their age, either cutting all the apples beforehand, or let your kids do it themselves. We didn't have a lot of time for this craft so I had everything ready for us to put it together, and it only took about 10-15 minutes to complete.

I had everything on hand, and you most likely do as well. You will need construction paper or cardstock, hot glue gun or Elmers, ribbon or string, and cardboard.
Use a plate to draw a circle onto your cardboard to your desired size. I choose to cover mine in strips of felt since I thought it would look better in the end, but it turns out the apples will cover the entire thing. So you can skip this step if you'd like.

If you just have cardboard to attach apples to, Elmers glue will work just fine, but if you're gluing to felt, use a glue gun. I put a dab of hot glue on the wreath, then my boys stuck the apples on in a pattern.
Use ribbon or string to attach a dangling apple for the 'Happy Fall' sign, as well as a ribbon loop for hanging. I just used a sewing pin to attach the ribbon. That's it! I have found that keeping things simple when it comes to kids and crafts is key to both you and your kids having an enjoyable time. Happy Fall!