D-I-Y cookie stamps and pleated cookie wrapping

November 28, 2010 § 21 Comments

It’s that wonderful time of year when our regular household kitchens are converted ad hoc into ambitious cookie factories.  Over the years, you’ve probably collected an extensive inventory of cookie-making gadgets and supplies, all of which have eaten through a bit of your holiday budget.  This holiday season, instead of heading out to the store for another investment (five dollars here and there do add up), you can design and make your own cookie stamps to emboss your sugar cookies.  They’re absolutely inexpensive to make and add a special touch to your creations.   Then wrap your beautifully embossed sugar cookies in beautifully pleated packages.

I often work backwards when creating most of my favors, as I did for this project.  I found this striking holly berry-printed tissue paper first, before it became the inspiration for the theme of my cookie stamps.  This project is also very suitable for making monogrammed cookies, for a more personal touch.

To make your reusable cookie stamps, you will need an old plastic cutting sheet that you will no longer use, a pencil, a sharp X-Acto knife, a pair of scissors, and a cutting mat.

1.  Using  a pair of scissors, cut your plastic sheet into a circle.  The size depends on the cookie cutter you will be using to cut the cookies.  If you would like an embossed border around the perimeter of your cookie, cut the circle smaller than the size of your cookie cutter.  Draw your desired image with a pencil.

2. Take a sharp X-Acto knife and cut an opening in your image, then slide in a pair of scissors and cut the image.

3. Thoroughly wash and dry your cookie stamps and it’s time for stamping!

4. Take your favorite sugar cookie recipe.  Press the stamp onto the rolled cookie dough with your fingers.  You can use the tip of a knife to lift the stamp off the cookie.

5. Cut the cookies with a cookie cutter and you’re ready to bake!

For beautifully wrapped cookies, you will need tissue paper, printed labels, and tape.  Buying circle labels can be expensive, so if you already have a circle punch at home (as I do), simply print your label design on a regular sheet of paper, punch into circles, and adhere with tape.

1. Layer two sheets of tissue paper and cut into a circle about three times the diameter of your cookies.  Stack the cookies in the center.

2. Fold and pleat the tissue paper all the way around the cookies.

3. Adhere your label.

May all your days of cookie-making and cookie-giving be merry and bright!

peppermint favor boxes

November 27, 2010 § 6 Comments

As I mentioned in a post almost two weeks ago, I was preparing favor boxes for the fundraiser, Music + Kids = Joy! on Saturday, November 20th.  For this year’s event, I designed these tempting peppermint favor boxes, which I filled with some of my delicious peppermint candy cane Po’ Boy Truffles.  These charming packages are also perfect for any homemade peppermint bark or candy cane shortbread.

They are uncomplicated and extremely cheap, each requiring only two styrofoam bowls and some strips of red electrical tape.  You can get a package of 50 styrofoam bowls for about $2 at grocery stores and a spool of red electrical tape for less than $1 at hardware stores.  That means, for a total $3, you can make 25 of these adorably cute boxes!

1. Take two styrofoam bowls and cut off the rim.  With your scissors, you can follow the innermost ridge on the rim of the bowl to ensure the circle is cut evenly.

2. Fill one bowl with treats and top with the second bowl as a lid.  Tape closed with strips of red electrical tape at four quadrants of the bowl.

3. Cut narrow strips of red electrical tape (you can divide the tape into three equal widths).  Tape a narrow strip in the middle of each quadrant.

Here’s a handy assembly tip: I measured the length of the curve of the bowl and multiplied that by two to get the full length of each strip.  Then, I measured and cut all the strips.  To make the narrow strips, I placed pre-cut lengths on a cutting mat and cut each lengthwise into three equal widths.  All of my strips were ready before applying them to the bowls.  When I create favor boxes in huge quantities, I often embody a one-woman revolving assembly line.

turkish delights

November 26, 2010 § 2 Comments

Well, with all the talk of turkey this American Thanksgiving weekend, I am reminded of the hearty food adventures that filled my time and tummy while in Turkey over the summer.  In Istanbul, you will find food along every street and at every corner of the city.  Turkey’s gastronomic spread is wide, with the flavors of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and East Asian in their dishes.  Comparing with my firsthand food adventures in Italy, I have to bestow, without reservation, the title of “Food Mecca” to Istanbul.

Of course, I will begin the adventure with legendary Turkish delights, which gained their worldwide claim to fame by the endorsement of the witch in Chronicles of Narnia.  The Turkish delights often found tough and stale on North American grocery shelves are no justice to the real stuff found on the streets of Turkey.  I bought slices off a tall tower of delights at the Spice Bazaar (left picture).  They come in all sorts of flavors with all sorts of nuts.  I especially love the ones with hazelnuts and pistachios.

My absolute favorite discovery in Turkey is Turkish ice cream, also called Maraş dondurma.  It is found in food carts, served eagerly by jovial young Turkish men, paddle in hand and fez on head.  And it’s also found in tubs at the grocery stores.  It is what I always wished gelato could be — chewy.  It’s the most peculiar and most delicious scoop of ice cream I’ve ever had.  I can best describe it as this: it’s as though ice cream and Japanese mochi melted together into a fateful concoction and got reconstituted in a frozen state of inseparability.  When you have a bite, the ice cream stretches as mochi would, but still maintains the texture of ice cream.  Odd, but so, so, so good.

Then, there is syrupy-sweet baklava.  It’s a heavy debate where baklava originated.  Some stand true that baklava is a Turkish creation.  Others believe it is Greek or Arabic in origin.

If I could make a few suggestions on the dishes to try in Istanbul, I would exclaim: FISH.  Istanbul is situated along the Bosphorus Strait, flanked by the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara.  There is nothing there as ubiquitous as fish, which come fresh out of the sea and are both inexpensive and delicious.

1. There are anchored boats lining the strait that sell and cook fish.

2. You can buy a dish of fish from a boat and eat in a covered patio along the water.

3. Fish markets are as plenty as fruit markets.

4. I had a grilled fish sandwich from a food cart.  It was even better than I expected.

5. There are many varieties of bass available.  The Turks often pan-fry their fish, which is exactly how I like my fish prepared.

Let’s not forget Turkish coffee.  It is nothing like café Americano.  And it makes Italian espresso taste mild.  Turkish coffee is strong and thick.  The coffee grinds are served in an espress0-size cup and eventually settle to the bottom.  Tasseology is customary in Turkey, when the coffee grinds are read as a fortune.

Ah, street food.  Food carts and stalls galore!  And some of the carts in Istanbul are the most stunningly decorated carts I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

6. I had a simit (Turkish sesame bread, similar to bagel) from a food vendor just outside of the Hagia Sofia.

7. A cart of pickles, for snacking, and pickle juices, for drinking.  Drinking pickle juice was my least favorite experience in Istanbul, though certainly one of the most memorable.

8. Roasted chestnut cart.

9. A stall selling skewered deep fried mussels.  They are to-die-for (hopefully not by a heart attack).

10. Doner is Turkey’s version of shawarma.  I eat this so often in Toronto, but it wouldn’t have been a complete trip to Istanbul without one.

And lastly, the wafer helva sold on streets.  These are oversize wafers sandwiched together with a sweet cream filling.  They are children’s treats.  One would assume the street furnishings are for children, too, but those miniature chairs and tables are used by adults during tea time, which is all the time in Turkey.

Looking back, I think the name “Turkish delight” can be used for just about any type of food found in dazzling, delightful Turkey.

enchanting lace wreath

November 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

For at least two years, we’ve watched the runways and discovered lace isn’t just a phenomenon in grandmother’s closet.  It is the one trend that manages to be classic, romantic, edgy, and modern all at once.

For this enchanting wreath project, I molded an inexpensive large lace doily (those, also, are not only from grandmother’s time).  Unlike me, if you crochet, you can create your own one-of-a-kind lace design.

You will need:

A large 14″ red lace doily, a long balloon or a 10″ Styrofoam wreath (I was resourceful and used a balloon as I had plenty left over from my Halloween balloon body parts project), a small disposable bowl, white glue, and black satin ribbon.

1. Inflate balloon and tie the ends to create a wreath shape.

2. Cut the center out of the doily.

3. Mix about 1/4 c white glue and 1/4 c water in a bowl and dip the doily until it absorbs all of the glue mixture.

4. Carefully arrange the doily on the balloon.  Let dry for at least 2 hours.

5. Turn over and remove the balloon.  Either way, you can display the wreath with the concave side out (as shown in this picture) or convex side out (as shown in the main picture).  Finish with a dramatic black satin bow.

I got four doilies in a pack from Dollarama.  I think I can afford to make one for every room inside the house!

smoked oyster ricotta in cracker cups

November 23, 2010 § 3 Comments

It was only two years ago that I was introduced to canned smoked oysters by a friend at a New Year’s party.  I say better late than never!  Canned smoked oysters make for some sophisticated appetizers without so much a sophisticated price.  You can find them on the shelf beside the sardines and tuna at the grocery store and won’t break the bank at less than $2 a can.  When I had them at the party two years ago, they were served directly out of the can onto crackers, drizzled with a bit of the oil out of the can, and some cilantro.  I loved it the way it was, but I also wanted to make something quite different and a little more elaborate to call my own.

I made a mixture of processed smoked oysters, ricotta, and lemon juice, piped into homemade whole wheat mini cracker cups lined with a couple of leaves of cilantro.

mini cracker cups:

1 c hot water

1/4 c butter

2 c whole wheat flour

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

yields 6 dozen

Combine the water and butter until butter has melted.  In a separate bowl, combine whole wheat flour, sugar, and salt.  Add the water/butter mixture to the flour mixture slowly mixing with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough.  Add additional flour by the tablespoon if the dough is sticky.  Divide the dough in 3 parts and cover with a damp towel.  Take the first part and roll on a floured surface until very thin (less than 1/8″).  Cut into circles using a 3″ circle cookie cutter.  Place the circles in a non-stick mini-muffin pan.  Each third of the dough will make 24 mini muffin cups.  Repeat for the other two thirds of the dough.  Bake at 400°F for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.

smoked oyster ricotta:

2 85g or 3 oz cans of smoked oysters

1 c ricotta

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 tsp salt

cilantro leaves, washed and dried with a paper towel

Process the oysters including the oil until it turns to a paste.  In a bowl, mix the ricotta with lemon juice and add the processed smoked oysters.  Add salt.

Take your cracker cups and line with two or three leaves of cilantro.  This will bring a depth of flavor to the recipe, as well as act as a barrier between the smoked oyster ricotta and cracker so that the cracker does not become soggy.  Spoon some of the smoked oyster ricotta mixture into a piping bag and pipe into the crackers.  Enjoy!

decorative pine cone using paper recyclables

November 22, 2010 § 4 Comments

About two weeks ago, I was approached by Reena, the owner of eco-artware.com, requesting my permission to feature my butternut squashes on the eco-artware-notes blog site for this week of Thanksgiving.  I was very flattered.  Thank you, Reena.  Eco-artware has some of the most wonderful sustainable art and décor you could find online, and a long list of very intriguing, creative artists and environmental advocates.  With all my wonder came guilt.  I often craft without bringing to mind the impact my work makes on the environment, especially with my significant use of paper.  The topic of sustainability was an emphasis in my architecture training, and today, I am reminded and shamed of how little it’s been in my consciousness in recent years.  I hope to get some reprieve for the less ecological crafts I’ve made and will be making in the future.  Today, I want to take a greener approach to a fun holiday craft: making a large decorative pine cone out of paper recyclables.

This summer, I had my first encounter with giant sequoia trees while hiking in Tuolumne Grove in Yosemite.   O.T. and I took the time to scour the grounds for the most handsome fallen giant cones to take home.  It occurred to me that since my “real” home is Toronto and not San Jose, I would require a clean pass through customs.  I would never risk consequential penalties with the law for a couple of mammoth cones, so I let the experience of these amusing novelties remain south of the border.  There are no sequoia trees anywhere near Toronto, so a homemade version will do.  *Edit: I thought O.T. and I had picked up sequoia cones, but as Suzi commented, these are in fact sugar pine cones.  Thanks, Suzi!

For this project, I repurposed a used paper towel core cut to about 7″ long and a few kraft paper bags.

1. Cut strips of the kraft paper bags in decreasing size, from about 8″ wide to 2″ wide.  They don’t have to be exact.  Fold each strip in half so that the print is hidden inside.  You will have folded strips about 4″ wide to 1″ wide.

2. Cut each strip into several slices, each being no more than 2″ wide.  Continue for all the strips, each time getting narrower, but no less than 1″ wide.

3. Fold each piece in half, and cut a curve on the open side.

4. Open each piece and cut a slit from the bottom, up to about 1″.

5.  With the crease facing upwards, fold the bottom sides up with a slight angle away from the crease.

6. Slit your paper towel core in four quadrants and tape the sides to form a peak.

7. Start taping the pieces to the paper towel core, starting from the peak of the paper towel core, and using the smallest pieces first.

8. Continue adhering all the strips, working towards the widest pieces, until you reach the bottom.

9. Once you reach the bottom, tuck and tape the last pieces into the paper towel core.

I decided to use my 7″ wide hurricane vase to display my giant paper sugar pine cone, but it’s up to you to place it wherever you feel it brings life to a room!

advent calendar: lego-inspired stackable treat boxes

November 19, 2010 § 49 Comments

Did I ever say how much I lovvvvve designing and making boxes?  I hope that it shows in the harvest candy corn and itsy bitsy spider treat boxes that I’ve done previously.  For my advent calendar, I summoned my inner child (as I do for most things) and was subjected to the most amusing time I’ve ever had making treat boxes (thus far, anyway). I can’t wait to start counting down to Christmas!

I admit, I sat on this idea for two weeks before lifting a finger in attempts at creating it.   All I had was a very vague, incalculable vision: Lego + treat boxes = nifty advent calendar.   But how?  I knew if I were to make Lego-like boxes, they’d have to be pretty darn functional — it would be an affront to Lego if these imitative boxes couldn’t work as carefully as their real Lego counterparts.  And it would also be a dirty waste to make them without any aim or purpose.  It became imperative to plan them in such a way that, by Christmas day, there would be a built project to appreciate (not that anyone wouldn’t appreciate a treat box daily for the duration of nearly one month, but I know it would be more rewarding if the boxes were constructed to create something joyful and in the spirit of Christmas.

So, for the first time, I was overwhelmed with the thought of boxes.  Many boxes.  To be exact, twenty-five boxes.  Boxes that have little nibs that fit through little nib-size holes with unforgiving mathematic precision.  I sketched it out, scratched it over, and sketched it out again.  It turns out twenty-five of these cute little things can make for a pretty festive Christmas tree wall, with the last and only yellow piece appropriately placed as the star on Christmas day.  So my adventure proceeded.

To recreate this harder-than-it-looks project (don’t say I didn’t warn you!), you will need: card stock in red, green, white, and yellow, foam sheets in red, green, white, and yellow, 1/4″ hole punch, white glue, double-sided tape, and of course templates for the boxes which I am happy to provide here.  Print the boxes in the following quantities: three 3″ red, three 2″ red, three 1″ red, four 3″ green, two 2″ green, three 1″ green, two 3″ white, two 2″ white, two 1″ white, and one 1″ yellow.

1. Using a 1/4″ hole punch, punch the foam sheets to make pieces in the following quantities: 216 red, 228 green, 144 white, and 12 yellow.  That sums up to an even 600 punches.  Yipee!

2. Glue together 3 punched foam circles of the same color to form a stack.  These will be the nibs.  In the end you will have stacks in the following quantities: 72 red, 76 green, 48 white, and 4 yellow.  Set aside.

3. Using a 1/4″ hole punch, accurately punch the holes on the bottom of the boxes.

4. Slowly insert a pencil through each hole to expand it.  This will allow the nibs to fit through with ease.  There’s a total of 200 holes in this project, believe it or not!

5. Adhere double-sided tape on the tab of each box.

6. Fold each box.  There are only 25, so it doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

7. Dip the nibs in glue one by one and accurately place in the faintly outlined circles on the top of each box, in corresponding color.  200 nibs to go and you’re done!

You have some long eleven days to complete this project by December 1st!  Happy box-making!

a new life for old plastic snowflakes

November 17, 2010 § 9 Comments

Chances are, you’ve started digging through your attic, basement, or garage for boxes of holiday paraphernalia.  Before you close the box on those dusted decades old plastic snowflake ornaments, it’s time to reconsider getting them out of retirement and giving them a new lease on life.

They make for stunning shimmering dual-purposed-napkin rings -slash-place-cards.  And they are guaranteed to get anyone in a festive mood when tied to a beautiful ribbon around a good bottle of wine (well, we know wine gets anyone in a festive mood any time of year, but this way sure fills it up with cheer).  And they make for a gorgeous tag to flatter a gorgeously wrapped present.

To make the place card napkin rings, I glued new hair elastics (I picked up a bundle of 100 in a variety of exciting colors from the dollar store which I will use up on future projects).  I am not a fan of hot glue, especially on plastic, and only use it for a handful of projects when absolutely needed.  What I am, though, is a Weldbond girl.  I Weldbond almost everything and it’s never let me down.  Simply apply a generous dot of the white stuff on the back of the snowflake and press the elastic into it until it’s mostly covered with glue and wait patiently until it dries clear.

I also think these snowflake place card napkin rings would make wonderful decorative touches for a white winter wedding, wouldn’t you agree?

rolled paper ornaments

November 14, 2010 § 88 Comments

I’ve been on a roll with rolling paper since I made the paper chess set for O.T. last month.  As meticulous an undertaking that was, I really enjoyed myself and couldn’t wait to apply the technique to Christmas ornaments.  These bright rolled paper ornaments are substantially simpler and make for a whimsical handmade addition to your tree.

You will need construction paper in various colors, matching ribbons, foam adhesive tape (mounting tape), double sided tape, and a bit of white glue. Check your local dollar store instead of a hardware store for the mounting tape.  I got 2 in a pack, each roll being 16 feet long.  I thought that was a steal!

1. Cut construction paper lengthwise (9″ long) in the following widths, in alternating colors: 3″, 2-3/4″, 2-1/2″, 2-1/4″, 2″, 1-3/4″, 1-1/2″, 1-1/4″, and 1″.

2. Take the widest piece and adhere mounting tape across the center.  Take 8″ of ribbon, fold, and place on the mounting tape.

3. Roll.

4. Take the second widest piece and adhere mounting tape across the center.

5. Roll.  Repeat for all pieces, going from widest, until you’ve rolled the second last piece.

6. When you get to the narrowest piece, place the mounting tape directly on the center of the ornament, and cut it about 3/4″ from where you began.  Place double sided tape where the seams will meet.  This will ensure the final seam is flat, and not raised.

7. Roll the final piece only once around and cut at the seam.

8. Take a long strip of construction paper at 1/8″ wide and quill (roll) until you get curls and cut at random lengths.  Dip the quilled strips in glue and apply across the ornament

This project is participating in Today’s Creative Blog:

music + kids = joy!

November 13, 2010 § 3 Comments

Next Saturday is the third annual “Music + Kids = Joy!” fundraiser here in Toronto.  For the past two years, planner extraordinaire Staffeen Thompson has selflessly offered her time and energy in creating and planning the event to raise money for the Children’s Breakfast Club, as she continues to do so this year.

It’s a very cool concept — a posh venue, a DJ, great music, door prizes, and a raffle — to get a fun adult crowd mingling together to raise awareness on children’s hunger.  If you’re in Toronto, come and drop by!

Last year, I was honored with the task of designing the treat boxes for all who came through the door, as my part of the effort.  This year, I’m thrilled to design and donate favors for the door prizes.  I’ve already got a good idea of the boxes I’m designing this year, it’s now just a matter of doing.  It’s a busy week ahead!

grown-up rice krispie treats (a.k.a. “po’ boy truffles”)

November 11, 2010 § 17 Comments

These grown-up rice krispie treats are yummy liqueur-infused treats I started making two years ago.  I like to call them “Po’ Boy Truffles”.  When extravagance goes down the way of the economy, we can let our dearest veteran of recipes rescue our pocket and our palate.  With a little fill and frill, you can transform the rice krispie treat into a sophisticated indulgence.  You can dress up your good ol’ rice krispie recipe with some of my favorite fusions and roll them into truffle bites.gourmet rice krispie treats

(From front to back):

Orange Truffle: Add dark cocoa into the melted marshmallows.  Substitute vanilla with Grand Marnier.  If you want virgin, there’s always orange extract.  Dip in dark chocolate.  Top with a slice of orange gumdrop.

Coconut Rum: Substitute vanilla with coconut rum, or half coconut extract and half rum extract.  Dip in white chocolate.  Roll in shredded coconut.

Coffee Toffee: Substitute 1/4 of your marshmallows with caramel chews.  Substitute vanilla with Kahlua.  Dip in dark chocolate.  Roll in a mixture of crushed coffee beans and crushed toffee bits.

Coconut Lime: Substitute vanilla with half coconut extract and half lime cordial.  Dip in dark chocolate.  Top with a slice of lime gumdrop.

Peanut Butter: Add finely chopped peanuts into your rice krispies.  Dip in melted peanut butter chips.

Amaretto: Substitute vanilla with Disaronno amaretto or almond extract.  Dip in milk chocolate.  Roll in sliced almonds.

Canadian Maple Walnut: Substitute vanilla with maple extract.  Dip in melted butterscotch chips.  Top with a halved walnut.

Mint Truffle: Substitute vanilla with crème de menthe or mint extract.  Dip in milk chocolate.  Drizzle dark chocolate.

Cranapple: Add finely chopped dried apples and dried cranberries into your rice krispies.   Substitute vanilla with cinnamon.  Dip in white chocolate.  Top with a dried cranberry.

Hazenut: Substitute 1/4 of your marshmallows with Nutella hazelnut spread.  Substitute vanilla with Frangelico hazelnut liqueur.  Dip in milk chocolate.

I also made large tennis ball-size rice krispie truffles for individual gifts.  These are coconut rum, amaretto, cranapple (with a cinnamon stick), and coffee toffee.

carved monogrammed soaps

November 10, 2010 § 5 Comments

I carved my first soap with the helping hand of my very crafty grandmother when I was 7 years old.  The chronicles of my crafting experiences with my grandmother are endless.  But of all those many memories, our soap carving afternoon is most distinct.  It was as though in the blink of an eye, she had made magic by turning a white detergent bar into an architectural wonder — a nipa hut with all the details of bamboo stilts and a thatched roof.  I wish I had taken a picture.

With the variety of soap-making kits and molds sold at craft stores these days, the art of carving soaps is antiquated.  And that’s what I love about it.  Soap carving makes me wax nostalgic.

For my holiday gift-making, I thought to dust off my memories and bring back some soap carving into my list.  I like monogrammed soaps as gifts.  They’re very personal and sentimental.  Even more so if they are carved by hand.

For this project, I used 100% olive oil soaps and designed monogrammed boxes to match.

1. Take a circle cookie cutter and press into the center of a bar of soap.

2. Carve the sides away until you are left with the circle.  I just used a regular kitchen knife.

3. Using a printed letter as a stencil, draw the initial using a sharp pencil.

4. Carve outside of the letter using a smaller knife.  I used a craft knife.

5. Using a sharp pencil, create hatch lines.

6. Carve beveled edges around the circle and the perimeter of the soap.

7. Using a moistened paper towel, polish the soap until all grooves are even and free of soap shavings.

For the box, you will need to measure the size of the soap and cut the top and bottom of the box accordingly.  I used two colors and, as an added touch, made sure the top of the box is shorter so the bottom of the box peaks through when closed.  I added a band by layering a strip of Japanese chiyogami paper on another strip of stock .  I attached a round monogrammed tag on the top of the band.

Don’t forget to put the shavings in a sachet for use as potpourri!

pop-up photographs

November 9, 2010 § 2 Comments

I haven’t quite met a single soul who isn’t charmed by pop-ups.  How couldn’t one be amused when pop-ups give life to all things flat?  Here’s a project inspired by the ageless paper crafting technique of pop-ups, applied simply and whimsically to an everyday object.  A collection of framed pop-up photographs would make a most thoughtful gift this holiday season.

I had so many beautiful pictures from our camping trip this summer in Yosemite and couldn’t wait to pop-up a few and frame them.  For this one example, I used five copies of the same picture, foam adhesive (you can get the foam adhesive dots at craft stores or the roll of foam adhesive tape at hardware stores), and a sharp craft knife.

I would suggest trimming away bits of the background for every layer until you are only left with the foreground elements in the final layer.

chalkboard clock

November 8, 2010 § 3 Comments

A chalkboard clock is a wonderful homemade holiday gift idea that costs no more than $10 to make.  I’ve had clock-making on my holiday crafting to-do list, but didn’t realize how timely this craft would have been had it been posted over the weekend when we moved our clocks back an hour.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought of that at all.  In fact, my crafting plans, at best, were indicated on my list as “make a clock” any day before Christmas.  It just so happened that I took one of my near-daily trips to Dollarama this afternoon and came across rolls of adhesive blackboard and thought it would make quite a practical face for my clock project.  What’s most practical is it took only several moves of the minute hand to complete.

All you’ll need are:

a. Adhesive blackboard, which I got for $1 at Dollarama.  If there’s no Dollarama near you, there might be other dollar stores that carry this product.  Or you can buy the blackboard paint available at craft stores.

b. Clock mechanism, which I got at Michaels for $6 (using my 50% off coupon).

c. Foam board, cut into 12″ square and cut with a hole in the center for the clock mechanism to attach.

d. Colored chalk.

All you need to do is to adhere the adhesive blackboard on the foam board, attach the clock, and doodle away.  And of course, change your design at any time!

whole wheat cornucopia cracker and cheese

November 7, 2010 § 11 Comments

It’s interesting how inspiration comes knocking.  Last Sunday, my brother treated me to a brunch for my birthday.  Over a heaping plate full of bacon and eggs, he was raving about his recent experience of making and eating a bacon explosion with some friends.  If you haven’t heard of a bacon explosion, as I hadn’t as of last week, it is bacon strips woven together in the style of a basket weave, topped with ground meat and rolled into a heart attack-inducing meatloaf.  It couldn’t all quite register as I had a moment of eureka in the basket weave part.  See, before last weekend, I was experimenting with creating shapes out of a whole wheat cracker recipe that I made one day by accidentally over crisping homemade tortillas.  Since, I have been racking my brain for ideas on ways to make creative crackers.  And my brother’s fervent blather about woven bacon was exactly the inspiration I needed.  Thanks, bro!

So, that is how this whole wheat cornucopia cracker and cheese platter has come to be, and just in time for American Thanksgiving, unlike my many other belated ideas.

I must admit, this is an enormous task for a cracker and cheese platter (I realize my 15″ square oversize platter diminishes the horn which is in fact 10″ long and 5″ in diameter enormous).  But it is well worth the effort.  It is a beautiful addition to your Thanksgiving spread.

To create the mold you will need:

1.  A large stainless steel cocktail shaker and aluminum foil.

2. Cut three pieces of foil, each one foot in length.  Crumple the first piece, then hang on the lip of the cocktail shaker.  Crumpling it before attaching it to the shaker saves on the use of foil (it gives shape, without having to use too much).  It is crucial that only a small piece of foil is inside the shaker, because the shaker must be easily removed from the foil after baking.

3. Do the same for the other two pieces of foil.

4. Take a piece of foil about one and a half feet in length and wrap around the shaker.  Make sure that the bulk of the crumpled foil is towards the mouth of the shaker, to have a nice cone shape.

5. Once you have the cone shape, you are ready to bake.

Combine 1/2 c of hot water, 1/8 c of melted butter, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 c of whole wheat flour into a dough.

1. Separate the dough into two parts.  For both, roll out the dough on a floured surface until very thin.  Using a pizza cutter and a clean strip of paper measuring 5/8″ wide as a guide, cut strips of the dough.

2. Weave the strips together.  The best trick is to move the strips back when you are adding a new strip under.

3.  Continue to weave.

4. Make sure the weave is larger than the foil-covered cocktail shaker.

5. Place the foil-covered cocktail shaker on the weave and roll until your weave forms a cornucopia.

6. Carefully place the cracker on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Using a sharp knife, trim any excess strips and ensure that the foil at the mouth is not covered.  This is crucial in removing your shaker once the cracker is baked.

7. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

8. To remove the shaker, first lift the foil from the lip of the shaker.  Slide the shaker out carefully.  Then working from inside out, slide out the pieces of foil.

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