Christmas in July

Santa tree napkin (1)

The nice thing about Christmas in July is it gives me the excuse opportunity to share the projects that I never got around to blogging about during the holiday crush months later. So this week I’ll be playing catch up with Christmas themed projects.Santa toys napkin (1)

My move to the mountains gave me a dining room. And, in all my time here, I’d not tackled stitching a simple holiday tablecloth for me. I finally decided on green and white (the photos have flash color – it really is green and white!) and very happy Santas.

Santa Napkins (1)

The embroidery designs are from Birdbrain Designs and they just make me smile. These napkins will be used so water soluble stabilizer (Vilene) ensured that the backs as are as clean as the front.

Santa Joy napkin (1)

I’m so happy with the new set!

Santa bear napkins (1)

More to come.

Fun Easy and Fast Holiday Jewelry

The handcrafted holiday jewelry I’ve created hits 2 ends of the spectrum – there’s the jeans, tennies, fun, inexpensive and easy jewelry and then there’s the little black dress, pumps, office Christmas party, night out jewelry with the latter being designed with wear year round applicability. This post will cover some fun, fast, easy to make and inexpensive jewelry.

First up is the quickie earring collection.  The snowmen and wreaths were buttons. I used my dremel to cut off the shanks, then glued them (the brown glue you see is wood glue, not sure what I used on the others) to ‘flat pad posts’ that you can pick up from JoAnn, Michael or my favorite mail order supplier Rings n Things. Be careful to generally place your post towards the top of the earring – the big snowmen are ok by a hair lower and they wouldn’t hang quite right.

The trees and candy canes in the top photo were from Michaels, they periodically have small glass ornaments with the small tree decorations or on aisle end caps. Those just needed a jump ring to attach to the ear wires and they’re done.  Sometimes I switch how you see the pairs in that top photo and wear one red and one green. In the photo directly above, those candy canes became earrings for my niece. Be careful when purchasing them – in the packet above the loop was broken off one of the wreaths. I knew that when I got it – the packets were easily worth the price for the remaining pieces.

These plastic Christmas tree lights had been carried in the two sizes you see in packets I believe were brand “Dress It Up” buttons.  Glass seed beads are between the lights, and I’d laid out the two strands as I worked to count the right number of beads so that the small light in the inner strand would sit in between 2 lights on the bigger light strand. For light beads I use a bead thread or cord – the “tigertails” and wire often crimp with small beads. They are great if you’re working with heavy stone beads (think turquoise chunks) as the drilled inner hole of stone beads often have sharp edges that cut through thread or cording. For light beads, they’ll lay naturally and smoothly with the threads and finer fiber cords. I’d placed a red glass spacer at either end of the lights.  The earrings are one head pin with seed beads and a light at the bottom plus a light that fits directly onto the loop of the ear wire. The nice thing about these is that they are so light – perfect if you plan on shopping and running about all day.

 

Finally, another quick necklace from the glass ornaments (the long candies were the third piece in the packets shown above with the candy canes and wreaths). This is one that if I have time I’ll take apart and do differently. Again, the glass beads were truly a find at Michaels. With it sitting at the neck, I originally thought the fact that side beads hang lower than the center bead would look ok – but I don’t care for it. Also, if I lived in a climate that was tropical in the winter and was wearing sleeveless light dresses the weight of single strand seed beads might be right, but it’s not. Considering using organza ribbon instead of seed beads or simply using these for earrings or a shawl pin but just haven’t decided.

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Labels for the Holiday Mix in a Jar Recipes

Well, like many of you I am swamped with the hours spent at work, holiday gift creating and shopping plus trying to get the home decorated, cards mailed and the blog kept up (whew, tired just thinking about it).  I’ve been promising more on wrap for food gifts and am taking a moment to toss up a PDF file you can download of holiday labels for the recipes in a jar I’ve posted. I’ve added a blank label page as well. They fit easily on any regular mason jar. Ever pragmatic, I prefer the label right on the jar as I’ve received jar gifts (bean soups from the kiddies in kindergarten) where the jar and the tag became separated.  I want the instructions stuck on as the vast majority of my gift recipients truly prefer pragmatism as well.

 A square or circle of cloth or paper over the lid could be the finishing touch instead of a bow. If you want to use the blank labels as lid toppers, just print at 125% – any bigger and you won’t see the label on the jar. For labels on the jars just print at 100%. Stuck on the ribbon for the photo – but in the basket I’m planning full of things, I’d trim the ties up a bit maybe use a deep purple for contrast. I won’t truly decide finishing touches until I have all the items together with the “vessel”.

The pumpkin muffins will be packaged the mix, the small can of pumpkin (I used a purchased cello bag for in the photos above and below) plus a cello bag with the molasses in a 4 ounce jam jar and a packet of cream cheese.  I’ll also include some sourdough in a jam jar with a mix for multigrain or gingerbread waffles and maple syrup (chosen recipe to come), plus the oatmeal tea loaves with the oatmeal mix jars of those as well. So many folks I know work oodles and oodles of hours per week and take off over the holidays. One of the joys of that time is being able to enjoy leisurely breakfasts. So the brunch baskets are always a treat. If I were giving the muffins with extras alone or a two mix jars – a simple hand sewn stocking (or purchased) would be a perfect holder.

I simply used the paper I normally run through my HP printer (Costco or Office Depot stock). Cardstock might be too hard to wrap easily; this label mirrors the Classico sauce label in that it wraps the jar ever so slightly. Brush the back with Modge Podge or something similar and place it on your jar. Really press the edges but be careful not to rub with your fingertip over the indented lettering if your choice of jar has that. I simply used the flat part of an extended finger to smooth and press over that area. I deliberately chose to use regular print, not photo quality and no spraying clear gloss or Modge Podge over the top as I like the handmade non-glossy look and feel of the jars.

The photos are mine on the labels with photos, clip art courtesy of Microsoft Office Clipart download for the labels with clip art. I’ve put links to the recipe on the labels, as with the muffins you’ll find the dry ingredients aren’t included should the recipient want to replicate them. There simply wasn’t enough room. I only ask that if you post your gift with my labels to your blog, you note labels courtesy of http://coedraiocht.wordpress.com  and link to the download on my site – do not copy and upload the PDF files to your site. Of course, don’t sell the labels or add the labels to a collection to sell.  I don’t sell items; I’m simply sharing what I’ve created for my own gifts.  All 3 pages of labels are in the one PDF file.

Jar Mix Label  

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Personalizing Gifts: Embroidered Holiday Towels

I do quite a few personalized gifts with my embroidery sewing machine. An easy to follow tutorial for machine embroidering on terrycloth is here at Embroidery Library.  Using a pack of the white Martex hand towels from Costco, I coordinate colors and themes with the bath, kitchen and holiday theme of the gift recipients.

These towels are Retro Christmas Design from Embroidery Library. I’ve debated about adding trim or embroidery to the band but prefer that for folks who grab that towel they have the bottom edge to use.

These were a gift last year for friends who’s holiday decorating colors center on turquoise.  The font is standard with my Husqvarna Viking Designer Topaz machine. The snowflakes include Embroidery Designs  Sew Man Star Snowflake, Pinnacle Embroidery Snowflake, and one of the snowflakes is Great Notions  Snowflakes edited to an individual design I could place them where I chose.

These are the microfiber towels you can pick up that are a bit shorter than regular dishtowels. They have a lined border  (to keep the weight similar to the rest of the towel) with a  fabric border from my stash. The design is again the Great Notions Snowflakes from Embroidery Designs –  this time the design “as is”.

This last one didn’t come up as perfectly as I’d like, but to be used as a large basket napkin for a friend who raises chickens it should still do the trick. The fabric is Joann huck toweling, the rik rak Wrights  and the embroidery design Embroidery Library ‘s  Christmas Chickens with the wording of Merry Christmas added by me.

All the items were sewn with Sulky embroidery threads, 40 weight. I download the majority of the designs in HUS format and need to use my software to convert it to my machine’s VP3 format. My suppliers for designs have changed since I first acquired my machine. I started only using MyEmbroideries as that is what was recommended by my vendor (btw – they have a 75% OFF every design sale though Dec 6th – I’ve not seen this level of sale from them ever). Then added others as I found them. I tend to use Embroidery Library the most given their regular sales and vast selection with Urban Threads and Esque for something a tad different. Moose be Stitchin, Zippy Designz and Oma’s Place all have great “in the hoop” designs to purchase and download at very reasonable pricing – every one of them has stitched out wonderfully for me. I have a few others I’ve found through Yahoo lists that have many sales and freebies. Do check out their landing pages to see Embroidery Garden’s in the hoop Santa Potholder, MooseBeStitchin’s in the hoop Roller Skate Holiday Stockings and Urban Thread’s Gingerbread ornaments (bitten 🙂  ). Many of these folks also have Facebook pages or Flickr groups.

Yahoo groups for instruction or sales that I belong to are; http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EmbroideryGarden/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BFC-Creations/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/embroiderynetwork/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MachineEmbroideryAdList/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SudberryEmbroidery/

ttp://groups.yahoo.com/group/digitizewithhus/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CompuSewwithJan/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/4D_Professional/

No Muffintops

When browsing Williams Sonoma a few season’s back, I’d seen this apron.

I immediately fell in love with the simplicity of it. It can be so easy to go for the cute, busy prints offered for the holidays. But this was subdued and I liked that. It wouldn’t be all matchy matchy with other things I use and it wouldn’t clash.  My friends, relatives and I all prefer the full apron without a cinched waist for the simple reason that none of us have the waist to carry that style off.  Half aprons are cute and fast, but as they say of some in skinny jeans, that would result in a muffintop appearance that is a tad unflattering.  My mom used to call it a “potato sack tied in the middle”. Nomenclature changes but the image is the same. The full apron, although not a miracle maker, can mask all those days not spent at the gym with its simple smooth lines (to a certain degree  🙂  ).

I’d been debating about styles to try out and had also saved this picture of an Anthropologie full apron to try although the Williams Sonoma won out. Again, simple and somewhat subdued was the mood I was in when browsing.

Utilized the same pattern I discuss in Apron Redo and line the apron as illustrated in my Halloween version tutorial. Chose the scoop neck over straight and left the bow off the pocket. The ruffle for this one is not from a pattern. It’s simply a long rectangle about 1 1/3 the bottom length of the apron and about 12 inches high. Fabric was JoAnn. The bias trim is Wrights double wide.

I adore how it came out! It’s exactly what I wanted.  Although I was looking for subdued, my sister’s favorite decorating theme is poinsettia and I found this fabric to use for a gift for her, which was also a hit. The Wrights trim in deep green set it off beautifully.

All of us in the U.S. are pushing to get through our Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday so December holiday projects are just starting to appear, more to come.

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Victory in a Jar

I enjoy writing. My days are spent in business where good business writing is concise, clear, three points, short words, never confuse anyone with multi-syllable words, descriptors are clutter to the message and sentences should be short. This is important with global audiences where English is a second language to many. For my blog, I love the freedom of “stream of consciousness” (sounds more intelligent than run on sentences, doesn’t it?) and like to push myself to remember simple things like adjectives and descriptors. When pondering terms to use for this post, antediluvian is what I settled on. It means “from the time before the biblical flood”. Marvelous word – don’t you think? Why is this post antediluvian? Because this post is about Mix in a Jar recipes.

Why victorious for my title? Because this mix in a jar recipe is sheer bliss once it’s made into a loaf. Victory, found what I needed, settled on my “theme” to work up (baskets, various wrapping ideas and the theme with another recipe in a future post; you may want to subscribe so you don’t miss it J  I will tell you that for folks I know, I like to include a baked version, plus the mix for them to make and enjoy again later ). If there were blog police, I think they should go after anyone who posts mix in a jar recipes and hasn’t actually made and eaten them or has not posted pics of the finished cooked/baked product. I want to know there’s firsthand experience and what I’m gifting isn’t some gummy oily monstrosity once baked. So, I’m Maggie and I approve this recipe.

My slight variation, substitute some of the white flour with whole wheat and use dried fruit instead of chocolate chips: Sunset Quick Bread in a Bottle.

Dried Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Quick Bread (or Raisin Walnut)

Layer:

 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries, lightly chopped (or raisins) 

Follow Sunset recipe for wet. For gifts I recommend you add the notation that 1 ½  TBL vinegar added to 1 ½ Cup milk can be substituted for the buttermilk (not everyone you gift may have it handy and although buttermilk would be a smidge better, this will still make a fine loaf). * Since originally posting this, I’ve become a fan of dry buttermilk (once the America’s test kitchen folks gave it their approval, I gave it a go. I now add the buttermilk powder to the dry and the corresponding amount of water to the wet. Follow instructions wiith the brand you get for amounts.

 At first I was very concerned. The batter seemed MUCH looser than most tea breads I make. I was reaching for the flour thinking just another ¼ cup but made myself resist as Sunset is usually pretty reliable. I truly had my doubts when putting these into the oven that they wouldn’t be a bit soggy. No worries – do not give in to the temptation to add flour, it bakes up beautifully.

 

 

As I’m testing out gifts, I thought about making the loaves just a tad easier to wrap by lining the pans with parchment (long side only see photo. I didn’t bother with the pan that was for me). As the cooking sprays come out pretty wet – I usually tip the pans over and let them drain a tad, figure the manufacturer doesn’t want any sticking, thus the heavy hand – I placed the parchment in the wet pan then turned it over so batter side had some of non-stick goo. I also sprinkled the tops with a light dusting of white sugar as I like the little extra crunch it gives the final product.

 

My smaller pans took about 40 minutes (I am in the mountains and seem to have to cook all baked goods a tad longer). 

Jars

I realized I wanted to do another wash of my jars (they’d gotten dusty), so you won’t see mine here. But they are something you can ready ahead of time. A nice add is to check the expiration on the flours you use and note that expiration date on the bottom of your recipe cards.  For jars, I use thoroughly cleaned Classico sauce jars (get the sauce in a 3 pack from Costco).  Yes, linking this post to food sites and I have jars of premade sauce confessed to in it. Just mush a few olives, capers and caper juice into it and it transforms. So, the jars – I like that the Kerr regular lids fit precisely and there are no vendor marks on the jars. You might have to use an adhesive remover to get the labels off. A final run through your hot dishwasher and your jars are probably more sterile than what you buy.  I know some paint and reuse the sauce lids, but new Kerr lids cost virtually nothing and take the package up a notch.

I did make and share labels for the jars here.

 

Wrap

 Experimenting with wrapping alternatives and found another keeper. These loaves can be boxed in one 8 ½ X 11 sheet of cardstock (U.S. Letter). My example is showing you only the cardstock “plain” (having guests for U.S. Thanksgiving and am not dragging out the Christmas stuff yet). Crafters reading this post will realize the decorating ideas are endless – they include paint (simply sponge or wash your holiday colors over the paper and let dry), rubber stamping, pen and ink, decoupaged tissue, composing whatever combo you like and running your sheet through your printer, purchased cardstock or downloadable sheet images. I used a heavier cardstock and scored all lines using a clean pan as my guide. No tape – the ribbon at the end holds it together. Plan to make and print round labels for the tops (something original like “From Maggie’s Kitchen” in holiday hues). I’ve scanned the folded one so that I can work the pattern in my design programs.

         

 Special thank you to ‘SnoWhite’ for featuring this post on her blog.

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