Monday, September 28, 2009

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Made these for a party this weekend - I love Fall! Recipe at Real Simple magazine HERE. They were SO easy to make and the frosting was delicious!

I've been having problems with my oven while baking lately - seems like all my cupcakes are getting a little too done on the bottoms. My shelf isn't too low, and my heat isn't too high. Not sure what the situation is? I've heard that different kinds of cupcake liners play a role in this?

Any words of wisdom, fellow bloggers and bakers?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Halloween Treat Bags - Stampin' Up!

I demo'd these little treat bags at my Stampin' Up! workshop this past Wednesday. Wouldn't they be perfect for your little ghouls and goblins to take to school for their classmates? Or to stick into the treat bags of the little gremlins in your neighborhood when they knock on your door on October 31st?

SU Products Used: Cast-a-Spell Designer Series Paper, Batty for You stamp set, Basic Black Stampin Write, Only Orange Stampin Pad, Green Galore Stampin Pad, Basic Black Cardstock, Only Orange Cardstock, 3x5 inch Cellophane Bags.

I purchased the eyeballs and pumpkin chocolate candies at my local grocery store - but you could fill the bags with all kinds of spooky novelties - think erasers, bouncy balls, spider rings, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bite Sized Snacks

There's nothing cuter to me than "tiny" food. Perfect for small, informal gatherings, bite-sized versions of "regular" food are perfect for eating with your fingers.

Check out the mini lemon cupcakes topped with vanilla frosting and yellow sugar. Wilton makes a mini cupcake pan and most cupcake recipes translate just fine to the smaller pan - just keep a close eye on them because they won't bake for nearly as long!

For the mini brownies, I used the same mini-cupcake pan but instead of cupcake liners, I greased the pan with a healthy spritz of PAM. Divide your batter evenly - and remember that brownies don't rise the same way that cupcakes do - so fill each almost all the way to the top.

And it doesn't have to end there! You can go bite sized with non-baked goods as well! Think sliders, mini hotdogs, mini pizzas (use English muffins instead of dough!) and tiny quiche bites using teeny puff pastry pre-made pie shells.

Finger food is fun to make and looks adorable on the table. Try it for your next gathering!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Flower Pen Re-Do!

I recently got an e-mail from Angela in Arizona (Hi, Angela!) who was making flower pens for a bridal shower to use as favors and found the how-to on my blog HERE.

Angela was having problems with the floral tape she had found at Michael's and JoAnn's because it was TOO STICKY. Without a Hobby Lobby near her (this is where I purchase MY tape) I was determined to help her find a solution!

Here are two suggestions for anyone fighting a sticky tape situation!

1) Gently rinse finished pen "stems" with warm water and anti-bacterial soap. I know - it sounds crazy - but it takes away the sticky. I'm not a scientist, but I'm guessing it's something to do with the alcohol in the anti-bac.

2) Grab your handy mod podge and coat the pen "stem" with a thin layer, covering every little spot. What I love about this option is that it seals in any loose ends even better, and coats the pen with a nice sheen. You could get funky with it and use the glitter mod podge for a different kinda look!

Have you made the flower pens? I've heard from several of you that have! Drop me a line with pictures of your creations so that we can all oooh and aaah... and if anyone tries the glitter mod podge DO let me know... I think we could be on to something! : )

Full tutorial HERE!

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Third Time's a Charm!

When Saucy announced her Halloween Charm Bracelet Swap I knew I wanted to participate right away! Halloween is one of my FAVORITE holidays, and this is the first time I've ever participated in a swap - what a great way to start!

Essentially, there are about two dozen of us making a set of 12 charms each. We mail them all to Saucy who divvies them up and sends us back a charm bracelet kit complete with twelve charms from the aformentioned bloggers. NEAT-O!

I knew right away that I wanted to do something with Shrinky Dinks to make my charms. This is funny, because I've never used Shrinky Dinks before. But in true Joanne fashion I figured I'd just work it out as I went along and it would be easy as pie!

Well... it WAS easy, in theory....

I just made some SILLY mistakes along the way...

Learning curve?

After two failed batches (trial and error folks, trial and error!) I finally had a finished product I was proud of.

To make my pumpkin charms, I used a pumpkin stamp stamped in black ink on paper, and with the Shrinky Dink plastic over the top I traced my pumpkins in black Sharpie marker.

Once dry, I flipped the plastic over and colored the pumpkins with an orange Sharpie marker.

I then cut them all out, and punched a hole in each with a regular sized hole punch.

After that they went into the oven for some shrinking magic!

I sealed the colored side of the charms with a coat of clear nail polish, which gave the charms a nice sheen, and then added 6mm rings to each.

Then it was time to package them individually for the swappers...

And wrap them up (just for fun - check out the ribbon!) and mail off to Miss Saucy!

I can't wait to get my charms back and assemble my bracelet - don't worry, I'll be sure to share pics!

So reader, what Halloween-y projects are you working on right now? Do share! And expect to see more SPOOKY things on Ready, Set, Craft very soon!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stampin' Up!

As I mentioned before, I am now a Demonstrator for Stampin' Up! Stampin' Up! is a fabulous range of rubber stamps, cardstocks, scrapbook paper, punches, inks, ribbons and so much more! They have beautiful color choices and everything coordinates. The products are well made and long lasting - and I just really enjoy using them!

I became a Stampin' Up Demonstrator both to further my knowledge and share my love for stamping and card making. It's so easy! You don't have to be "artsy" to enjoy or be good at stamping!

As a Demonstrator, I can lead parties your home with you acting as hostess (you can receive free stamps and discounts on merchandise just by hosting a party!), lead workshops and classes in my home, and teach classes elsewhere as well.

Coming up, I have four in-home parties, two classes at the YMCA, and several Christmas Card classes in the works as well. I'm very much looking forward to sharing Stampin' Up! with friends old and new!

If you live in Michigan and would like to host a party or class, or just attend one, do let me know! I can travel all over the state and would be happy to get together with you and your riends for some stamping fun!

If you live out of state, but are interested in learning more about Stampin' Up!, I can put you on my distribution list for catalogs, specials, and promotions, and you can order with preferred pricing through me on the Stampin' Up! website! Just let me know!

I'm busy prepping for all of my upcoming stamping events, and thought I'd share a few samples with you. I'm not necessarily going to demo all or any of these particular projects, but thought you might like to see all the same!

Have a wonderful weekend!

4x6 card using "In Color" inks and stocks with "For All You Do" stamp set

4x6 card using "In Color" inks and stocks with "All Natural" stamp set

2x2 gift cards using "In Color" inks and stocks with "For All You Do" stamp set

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tablecloth & Bulletin Board Tutorials

Now that Fall is creeping up on us and I'm spending a little less time outside, I've been antsy to get going on some projects around the house.

Since I'm working on my masters full-time and will be spending lots of time studying and at the computer, I figured the office needed a bit of a makeover first.

My office is a very small room, and while we have two desk workspaces they are both in use with a large computer monitor, printer, etc. I wanted just a little more space to work.

In addition to adding some shelving, I had this little table that had been sitting in a closet since we moved into our house. I whipped up a little tablecloth to cover it...

Tablecloth Tutorial:

1) Cut a piece of fabric (I used lightweight decorator fabric) the approximate size that you would like your table cloth. My fabric was 37 inches square.

2) Zigzag all the way around to stop fraying.

3) Fold and press a hem using the zig zag as a guide.

4) Fold and press again to completely cover rough edge of fabric. Then stitch all the way around! I used a pretty decorative leaves stitch on my machine. Love!

It's the perfect place for our in/out box trays and page-a-day calendar. Removing those things from my desk gives me some more open workspace.

Once I was done with the tablecloth, I attacked an old bulletin board that was hanging in our kitchen but never got any use. I figured it would be better used in the office.

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial:

1) Spray paint bulletin board the color of your choice.

2) Drape fabric over bulletin board and cut to size.

3) Fold and press edges.

4) Place on board to check size.

5) Begin at one corner and staple along each edge as close to the frame as possible.

6) Pull tightly as you go.

7) Continue pulling and stapling all the way around. You may have some excess fabric on some sides, fold it under before stapling.

8) Finished!

It was fun to make over my office a little bit! Now I'm off to finish re-organizing and making my space a clean, relaxing and workable work space! I hope you enjoyed my tutorials!

PJ Pants Phase Two & Labor Day Sale

Have you been just dying for an update on the PJ pants?! : )

Well... after a slight mishap...

(Oops! One leg is inside out!)

I finished them! I actually got them done mid-week last week and have been holding out for a picture of me in them before I posted. Ta Da!

Now, there are certainly some things I would do differently. For instance, the waist to crotch measurement is really long. I'd definitely take some more fabric off the waist and make the waist to crotch shorter if I made them again. I think I might try the size smaller actually. I like big and comfy pants but these are pretty large.

As I was working on constructing these pants I was awed by how much I have picked up throughout life from my mother - the sewing queen - without even realizing! I knew exactly how to put the elastic through the waistband because I had watched her thread elastic through hair scrunchies for me a million times when I was a little girl. So many little things came easier than I think they would have if I'd never been around sewing before.

So now that the PJ pants are done it's off to other things! I've already completed a little home decor project that I'll be posting later today...

This past weekend JoAnn Fabrics had a CRAZY sale for Labor Day! I HAD to check it out of course! Here's what I came back with...

Would you believe me if I told you that all of this cost me just $20? No joke. $20 even! The patterns were on sale for $1.99, the notions were buy one get one free, and flannel was on sale for 50% off! Score!

I purchased some cutsie kiddo flannel to make some PJ pants for the little ones in my life for Christmas gifts. What do you think?

I hope that you're all having a wonderful week! Check back soon for more sewing, cupcaking, stamping, and Halloween goodness!

Monday, September 7, 2009

September Cupkins: Caramel Apple Cupcakes!

Today is the first Monday of the month and the first official Cupkins post - a collaboration between myself and Meg at Mega•Crafty. We hope that you enjoy our recipes!

Fall is well on its way, and what better way to welcome it than with some apple-y goodness? I LOVE those caramel apple suckers that come into the stores for Halloween around this time of year, and it was my inspiration for this cupcake!

Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting

For the cupcakes...
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter melted
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups Granny Smith apples peeled and chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In large bowl, beat eggs with milk, butter and vanilla.

In separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon.

Add to egg mixture; stir just until moistened. (Do not overmix.)

Stir in apples.

Pour into pan filling each at least 2/3 full. Cupcakes will NOT rise a lot!

Bake 18-20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting...

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
2cups powdered sugar

Melt 1/2 cup butter over medium heat.

Stir in 1 cup brown sugar.

Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.

Stir in 1/4 cup milk. Heat to boiling; remove from heat.

Cool to lukewarm, about 30 minutes.

Gradually stir in powdered sugar.

And for fun...

Garnish with a caramel apple sucker. Yum!

Now, click on the button below to head over to Meg's and check out her Apple Cider Muffins - delicious!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sewing Station & PJ Pants Phase One

I finally got some time to head down to the much neglected craft studio and clean, organize, sort, and set up my sewing machine. I have a tendency to work on craft projects on the main level of my house (in the living room/dining room) instead of doing it down in the craft room (closer to the action that way!) but I always end up leaving half finished projects strewn around, create a mess, and get stressed out at myself! I HAD to get organized downstairs.

Once I got the existing craft studio "stuff" sorted out - I set up a sewing station. I want my machine to be out all the time, ready to go on a whim, rather than having to unpack it every time I want to use it. I had a small dining room table that I've had for years... got it for $29 on clearance at Meijer when I was living in a small studio apartment by myself. Anyhoo, I digress. I had this table in a corner of the studio and it was just begging to become a sewing station...

Now I have my machine, notions, books, and patterns all in one place. Perfect! I even have my fabric stashes under the table for easy access. Now I just need to find a cheap desk chair to go with it... my folding chairs are just a tad too low. Something adjustable in height would be better.

I'd show you more of my studio space, but, well, it needs some work. Don't get me wrong, I consider myself VERY LUCKY to have a space in my home that is all my own and 100% dedicated to crafting, but wen you consider we haven't lived in our home a year yet, it's an old home (early 1920's) and my studio is in the basement, which was partially finished in the 70's/80's you can get a good picture of what I'm working with. You can see the crazy paneled walls, and old carpet. Being a basement, it's always a little moist down there, and the light isn't too great.

We plan on re-modeling our basement within the next year or so, but I'm getting more and more anxious for a quick fix. I'm investigating ways to spruce up the room and make it more comfortable and functional until we have the time and $$ to invest in a complete basement re-haul. I'm thinking a coat of water-sealing paint for sure, and plan on seeing if I can score some cheap area rugs after the "back to college" time is over. And then I need to see about shelving and decor. Any ideas? How do you keep your craft space functional, organized, and comfortable? Do share! More to come I am sure...

Phew! I digress again - I'm just Chatty Cathy today!

So once I had my sewing station set up it was only natural that I get going on a project. I was kind of nervous to start anything from a pattern - patterns intimidate me a bit. You see, I am really not good at following instructions. I have this mentality that I'm smart enough to figure things out as I go along... and that it'll all just fall into place! : ) While some of you master sewers out there (Hi, Mum!) may very well be able to do things on the fly when needed/desired, I am certainly there yet. With reluctance, I picked out an "easy" pattern for PJ pants. Mum had given me some flannel she'd had in her stash for ages so this seemed perfect.

Yesterday I got started, and managed to cut, pin, and zig zag all the edges of the pieces... (see, I'm learning things!)

I guess I'm supposed to zig zag all the edges to stop fraying, since I don't have a serger (YET!) to use. I think the pieces fold over like this to form the legs of the pants...

... but I really can't be sure, since I haven't read the directions yet... ha! : ) I have them in front of me I swear, and as soon as I'm done with this post I'll be reading them and studying up before I do anything else. Stay tuned for more updates on the PJ's!

Oh, and there's one more person who's happy the craft studio is cleaned up...

This is one of my cats, Beyonce (we call her Mizzy) who LOVES to hang out in the studio, and most recently has taken to sitting with me while I sew. Or in this case, sitting AT the sewing station. She's my sewing buddy. Maybe she wishes she could sew too?

That's it for today! Happy Labor Day weekend for those of you starting your weekend tonight!