My love of traditional English Christmas Crackers (the paper sort, not the edible sort) has been well documented. Since it takes two people to open one they seem like a good choice as a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day as well. (With my apologies to traditionalists, sorry about that.)
I found the supplies I needed at a local shop and decided it was meant to be. I added a few decorative details in my instructions below that can be skipped to make it easier. All you really need are a tube (a paper towel tube will work great), some cracker snaps (a specialty crafts store should have them), some decorative paper (crepe or tissue paper) to wrap it all up in and some fun little things to put inside. I decided to go for a few handmade details:
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· comments  · 02-8-2012 · categories:holidays ·
· comments  · 02-6-2012 · categories:holidays · links ·
Earlier I posted about how to turn a tree shaped cookie cutter into one that is interlocking and standing (shown above). I wrote about the way to interlock three cookies but I wanted to say that I started this project by using the same 8 inch tall cookie cutter and much thinner dough to make trees that used six layers that slotted together. I made them in the same year I showed the gingerbread houses that perch on the edge of a mug. Here are some photos that I took waaaay back in 2009:
I made small ones that used three cookies, and large ones that used six cookies:
Trouble was that the larger trees curled, the layers of dough wouldn’t cool flat no matter how careful I was, leading to them looking like this:
It had a nice geometric look but just lacked a certain amount of charm and, dare I say it?, looked like beef jerky. Also, it required rolling dough out to a point where it was unreasonably thin. Still, at that point in time I was a bit caught up with interlocking as many cookies as I could.
The smaller trees were flat and looked fine but I’m happier with my current version using thicker dough that allows you to decorate the edges. My lesson? More isn’t always better. Um, less is more? That sounds better. Ok, Happy Holidays everybody I’ll see you in the near year!
· comments  · 12-22-2011 · categories:christmas ·
I made 3D Christmas Tree Gingerbread Cookies for Christmas. They slot together and don’t require icing to hold them up. Below I explain how to 3Dize your own cookie cutters and I also provide printable templates in case you don’t have a tree cookie cutter you like.
Click through for a how-to.
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· comments  · 12-21-2011 · categories:christmas ·
How to: Make Modern Perforated Christmas Trees » Curbly | DIY Design Community. These look like the porcelain ones from West Elm, nice job.
12 Days of Christmas Gifts | Mighty Girl. Love!
MinuteFrame: Order a framed photo in less than one minute. This one is the service of a friend of a friend, and I have not tried it but it looks so darn handy. Very simply you upload a photo to have printed at the 5×7 size, they do the printing and framing and ship it to your giftee.
mirrormirror: Christmas Cupcake Decorating at Trophy Cupcake. Paola includes tip numbers and notes on technique for some fancy cupcakes. They look great Paola!
Calvin and Hobbes Snowmen Truffles · Edible Crafts.
Festive Topped Jars at You Are My Fave. Simple and very impressive! Via Edible Crafts.
Felted Bell Ornaments – the purl bee. So sweet.
· comments  · 12-19-2011 · categories:christmas · links ·
Have you seen this amazing Gingerbread Brownstone made by Kitchen Table Scraps? Even better, she shows how to make it including shaping the rounded front windows, adding all the detail and lighting it from the inside. Super greatness.
· comments  · 12-13-2011 · categories:christmas · food ·
· comments  · 12-6-2011 · categories:christmas · links ·
I’m away all week visiting family back in the good old Midwest so I won’t have any Thanksgiving updates unless I manage to find some wi-fi. So, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and I wanted to remind you of this very smart tip on brining a turkey in your fridge without taking up all the space in your fridge that I learned over at Savory Sweet Life — brine it in a turkey sized oven bag and keep it in one of the crisper drawers. Awesome right? Here’s a not very lovely photograph of mine last year:
· comments  · 11-21-2011 · categories:holidays ·
· comments  · 10-28-2011 · categories:halloween · links ·
These are photos of the test Zombie Head Cheese we created, thus the poor lighting and the two kinds of cheese. But I wanted to show you the idea for a tongue that I decided to skip.
I carved the tongue from a block of Spam I had coaxed out of the can as a whole rectangular chunk. Know what? Spam is surprisingly easy to carve. It’s also very slippery.
The tongue was ghastly. And since the skull wasn’t secure in order to keep the jaw open it tilted to one side when we attempted to scoop some cheese off. Eeek.
In the end I decided to drop the tongue made of Spam in part because it was slippery and in part because it smelled too strongly for me to recommend. But, if you want to have a go at making a Spam tongue it is really effective.
· comments  · 10-27-2011 · categories:food · halloween ·
I made you something for Halloween. You can serve it a party. Or maybe make it as a snack for your viewing party of The Walking Dead.
These are both made of soft cheese spread on a plastic skull. Easy. Creepy. Delicious. That is, if you can get people to dig in.
You know that old trick of unwrapping a block of cream cheese and topping it with soy sauce and some sesame seeds? Yum right? I added some food coloring and a life sized plastic skull and called it Halloween worthy.
(This is version #1, a slightly easier version is just below.)
First get a life sized plastic skull (wash it really well), some soy sauce, one 12 ounce tub of cream cheese spread and some food coloring. Tint the cream cheese to a fleshy color, I used about 15 drops of red and 10 drops of yellow here.
I found a plastic skull like this one at a local party supplies store, but I really wish I’d managed to find a plastic skull where the top of the head is removable. Something really frightening could be made with that. Spinach dip brains anybody?
Then add just one drop of blue food coloring and stir only a few times until the blue appears streaky. Less is more here, it will further streak as you spread it. Now, frost your skull like a cake. Start with the tricky bits around the face first. If you can’t hold the crown of the head to stabilize the skull it makes it much more complicated. Try to keep the teeth clean.
A detail of the blue-streaked cream cheese.
I used a small flexible spatula to spread this. There is no need to be tidy here, the messier the grossier. Grosser? Grossest? You know what I mean.
You can also stick a few rectangles of parchment paper surrounding the head so you can be a bit messy while frosting and then pull them out after you are done, a trick I learned about frosting cakes. If you can putting the head on a smaller plate on top of a larger plate will be useful to catch the fake blood, and it will be easy to artfully arrange the crackers. Saltines are the traditional cracker for this but these more artisanal crackers I found looked like creepy bandages and still have that bland and salty taste you want. You can frost your head a few hours early and refrigerate. It’s amusing to sit nearby and observe as unsuspecting people open the fridge.
Cocktail onions create nice dead eyes.
Just before serving mix a bit of soy sauce with some drops of red food coloring and drizzle it over the head so that is streams down. I used a pipette but if you don’t have one handy a small measuring cup with a pour spout or a carefully wielded spoon will work just as well. If you can get the soy sauce to pool around the onion eyes, it looks extra creepy that way. Also sprinkle on some bugs, I mean, toasted sesame seeds.
It’s even scarier after it’s been eaten. Yikes.
This is version #2, it’s slightly less involved. You just need spreadable cheese, cocktail onions and a plastic skull. Let’s face it, just about any pink or orange tinted spreadable cheese will look suitably disgusting.
I used this cheese that has reddish port wine streaks in it. I didn’t manage to capture the reddish colors in these pictures as well as I hoped but I promise it was pretty gross looking.
I’m smitten. What should I name it?
(See also: The Outtakes wherein I attempt to carve a tongue from Spam and am entirely too successful.)
· comments  · 10-26-2011 · categories:food · halloween ·
· comments  · 10-20-2011 · categories:halloween · links ·
· comments  · 10-10-2011 · categories:halloween · links ·
Sprinkle Bakes: Breakfast for Dessert: Boiled Custard Eggs, Shortbread Soldiers and Coffee on a Stick. More faux eggs, via Edible Crafts.
Hungry Happenings: Fun idea for an Easter Brunch – Carrot Crescents Filled with Egg Salad. These are so cute.
Hot Cross Buns | The Pioneer Woman Cooks | Ree Drummond. Yum.
Bread roll chicks | Flickr. These knotted bread roll chicks are adorable. I couldn’t find the specific entry but they are from The Secrets of Our Supper.
Minimalist Pysanky @Craftzine.com blog.
Felt Carrot pattern, at I Make Stuff. (Warning: PDF). I love the line of stitching that dds a bit of detail to these.
Bunny Fold Napkins at Martha Stewart. This is an old one but a good one and it’s been popping up on Pinterest lately. And I like it as a last minute way to add Easter decoration.
· comments  · 04-21-2011 · categories:holidays · links ·
For Easter I made papier-mache polka dotted eggs.
I made small pinatas using water balloons and tissue paper.
I filled them with candy, then sealed them shut.
You can also put toys or notes inside.
They have to be ripped to open them, which is way fun.
Click here: Papier-Mache Easter Eggs to find (much) more detailed instructions on how to make them.
· comments  · 04-18-2011 · categories:craft · holidays ·