Saturday, January 31, 2009

In a galaxy far, far away...

My friend Michelle posed a new challenge to me last week, she requested Star Wars cupcakes at her birthday party this weekend. My brain went blank. The last time Star Wars has crossed my mind was 1997 when I went to see the re-releases on the big screen. So I scoured Google Image for ideas, and the Star Wars themed cupcakes that came back were either entirely uninspired, or professionally done with fondant and airbrushing.

So I sat down and put my mind to it, and came up with three designs that I'm really excited to bring with me to the party tonight.

Dueling Light Sabers
I piped these little light sabers onto wax paper with melted tinted white chocolate. Once they set up, I just frosted the cupcakes and stuck the light sabers into the chocolate. Easy peasy.

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Princess Leias
I can't believe no one thought of this already. These cupcakes are simply frosted to look like a face, and then decorated with oreos to get the signature Princess Leia hair thingys. What the heck are those, earmuffs? Cinnamon buns?

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I piped with melted chocolate on the sides of the oreos to get the hair swirl effect.

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Death Stars
These are just frosted and piped to look like Death Stars. I was going to do something totally convoluted with munchkins dunked in gray chocolate, but they came out so unappetizing, I tossed them. And of course, May the Force be with you.

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I'm sure they'll be a hit.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Knots and Nuts

I finished my sampler last night! I'm so happy with the way it came out. I'm going to frame it today. I got the pattern from this great website, in case you want to try it yourself! Nordic Craft

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I especially love my french knots, which I've never been able to do very well until I mastered them for this project.

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I'm enjoying my last days of vacation before my semester starts up once again. I made these nuts for my mom to take to a cocktail party with her. The recipe came from Smitten Kitchen and they're fantastic. Every recipe from that website comes out great!

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Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
Adapted from Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country, printed in New York Magazine

1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper (I left this out)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts (I used a mix)
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add walnuts, and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hello 2009

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To tell the truth, I wasn't very excited for this year to begin. 2008 was so exciting! I had surgery, quit my job, moved, started school, and made a bunch of new friends. In 2010, I'll be finishing my degree and (hopefully!) starting a new career. 2009 is like this weird, in between year that I must trudge through to get to the other side.

So naturally I set my standard 8 million resolutions, which I do every year, and then forget about them until December when I look back on my list and realize how much I didn't accomplish. "Wow," I thought, "That's really depressing". So I scrapped my list and wrote a new one, and when I looked at it, I realized that every resolution I made could be lumped into one category, and that became my single resolution for 2009.

This year, I resolve to make my life as beautiful as possible. This includes my usual "be more tidy" and "exercise!!!" resolutions, but it also includes crossing things off my craft list, throwing my energy into a larger, more planned out garden this summer, spending as much time as possible with my friends and family while also taking time for myself, and working through all my bookmarked recipes. It means that I am going to try to notice and appreciate the little details every day, take walks, be outside. I want to never feel as if a day was wasted. I want to limit my crankiness and try to bring happiness to other people's lives as well. And, the best thing about this resolution is that if I fail to accomplish one of the items on my list, I will still have accomplished many others, making 2009 a success.

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I got my year kicked off with a new sewing machine (thanks mom!) and the completion of this project. It's a lap quilt that I started working on in August, using a vintage tablecloth as the top rather than patchwork. Getting this pile of batting, fabric, and threads up off my floor and morphed into something functional (and snuggly) made me happy, neatened up my space, and adds something a little bit more special to evenings curled up on the couch with a book. (The picture up top is a sneak preview of my next project, an embroidery sampler, which I plan to frame and hang above my desk for inspiration all year.)

I hope your 2009 is as great as mine is going to be! Happy New Year!


Friday, January 2, 2009

Holiday Cheer

This holiday season was full of family fun. We celebrated Christmas and New Years in Bayonne. Here are some pics of the good times!
The festivities started in Westfield...

Mom helps me string the lights and plug in our favorite angel with the lights under her dress.

Rachel and Mom unpack the keepsake for each year!

Mom continues the tradition of Auntie Alice's Kruschikis.

And Rachel made her first ever Buche de Noel.

Things got a little crazy in Bayonne...

Me and Charlie cook up a storm.

The original Potluck Crafters by the tree.

Nothing brings a family together like good food!

And New Years Eve was a blast...dinner, drinks, fun and games with loved ones and Dick Clark!

Just a few minutes to go!

Rockin in the New Year!

Ringing in the New Year with pots, pans and sparklers!
I hope you all have a very blessed New Year and keep on crafting, making things with love and celebrating something every day!