Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years Resolutions

I don't typically make New Years Resolutions.  It's so easy to fail at the resolution and then the pressure of the "New Years Resolution" just makes it feel so much worse if/when you do fail.  I don't need the added stress!  Of course I could just not fail at the resolution, but my track record with resolutions isn't so great.

This year I'm making Goals instead of Resolutions.  Goals are attainable, especially since I can make a list of steps to achieve the goals.  I'm still working on my goals list, but here's what I've got so far (in no particular order):
  • Write 2 blog posts a week minimum, but aim for 3.  Definitely doable, and if I have a busy week I can write them all in one day (notice I said how many blog posts, not how many days a week I need to blog - big difference!).  Having a blog is really helping me keep organized and on track to finish up those projects I usually let sit in a box to collect dust until I finally throw them out.
  • Read and connect with at least 2 different bloggers a week.  I love reading what other craft blogs and food blogs are up to, but I need to remember to stay connected and comment on the posts that I enjoy so much so the blogger knows that I'm enjoying reading their blog!  I love all the blogs I follow and read, but sometimes I never get around to writing a comment.  I know comments mean a lot to me, so I assume others love them as well!
  • List at least 5 new things in the Etsy shop a month.  Also doable, and I'm hoping to go above and beyond to expand my shop, but having a small goal of 5 makes it attainable.  
  • Be more organized.  That's way to open-ended, how about to keep my desk organized and clean and put everything away after each project.  Baby steps. 
  • Organize my shelving.  I really need some new stack-able storage containers so I can put more stuff on my shelves in an organized fashion instead of shoving it where I can find room.    
  • Participate in a craft show.  This is a huge one, and something I'm super excited for if I can pull it off. I've never participated in a craft show, but I love going to them and I think having a booth would be tons of fun and a way to meet more local artists and crafters.
  • This is more personal and unrelated, but to start reading more, maybe aim for 1 book a month.  I need to remember to schedule in some "me" time so I don't get burned out on my Blogging and Etsying and Crafting.  I do enjoy crafting and it's relaxing and enjoyable, but sometimes I need to step back and take a break or I'll get burned out.  
I think I'll continue adding to the list as I realize more goals that I should have.

Those all seem pretty doable!  Here's to a great and productive 2013!

I also have some semi-goals, such as getting a newer phone (ugh mine is the worst!), eating healthier (who doesn't have this resolution?), and earning enough in my Etsy shop to pay for a fancy new camera so I can take better photos of my products (a girl can dream, right?).  

What about you?  What are some of your 2013 goals or resolutions?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies

Are you sick of all my cookie recipes yet?  I hope not, because I still have a few more for you!  Around the Holidays I tend to focus on making cookies, especially drop cookies since I bring cookie plates to parties and like to gift out cookie plates or bags of cookies to friends and family.

I was searching for a recipe for Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal cookies and I stumbled upon this recipe for Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies.  I thought I would use this recipe, add some white chocolate chips, and hopefully have an amazing cookie.  Although I left out the white chocolate in the end, these cookies are still tasty and a refreshing change from the mint chocolate and peanut butter cookies I've been making.

I didn't have a zester when I made this recipe, so instead I use a mini cheese grater to get the zest off of citrus and it seems to work just fine.  I actually like that I get larger pieces of the zest since it gives the cookies a unique appearance.  

Twitter For Dummies?

I seriously don’t understand Twitter.  I have an account, I’m following crafty people that interest me (and following those that follow me), but I just don’t quite get it.  

I’ve read this guide and it’s still completely over my head.  I think I’ll need to do quite a bit more research so I’m not only tweeting my blog posts and Etsy listings because that would get boring pretty quick for my followers.  I'm sure people don't care when I'm eating a PB & J Sandwich and they want to hear about more than just my blog posts and Etsy listings, but I'm not quite sure what to write, what to share, and what to ReTweet.

I also don't understand hashtags and how it's different than just writing regular words.  Replying vs. ReTweeting is a mystery to me and I'm probably making myself look like a complete n00b.

Does anyone have any tips on how I can make sure I’m using Twitter effectively and not boring all of my followers?  

Follow me here, I’ll be sure to follow you back!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Home is Wherever Mom is - Wall Plaque

I saw a print (I believe on Etsy.. but I didn't bookmark it so I can't find it now) that had a quote that said "Home is Where Mom Is" and I thought it would be great to make a wall plaque with that saying to gift to my mom!  Instead I made it say "wherever" mom is because I like how it looked better.

This is a quickie tutorial since it's mostly self-explanatory, but let me know if you have any questions!  I'm hoping to make another since I'm not 100% happy with how this turned out (it just didn't quite match my vision).  

Items needed:
-Wooden Plaque (purchased at craft store)
-Craft Paint 
-Paint Brush
-Printer for lettering (or you can freehand)
-Wood stain for distressing (or darker paint - or omit this step)

Dark Chocolate Mint Cookies

Yep, another cookie recipe!  This is another good one though, especially if you like mint and dark chocolate.

Since I live near Tacoma, I'm lucky enough to have access to the Brown and Haley Factory Outlet, which has discounted Almond Roca (all flavors!) and Factory Seconds.  Around the holidays I get really excited for the factory seconds because they cost a lot less than the regular Roca and it's just a cosmetic flaw that makes them sell for a reduced price.  Usually it's a wrapper mishap, but if I just take off all the wrappers then put them in a different bag or bowl then they're ready for consuming and I've saved a couple bucks!

I wasn't planning on going to the outlet this year since I was planning on doing tons of cookie baking to gift and didn't think that the extra candy was necessary, but my coworker went and brought back a pack of these:

These are Dark Chocolate Peppermint Chunks.  Chunks may not sound appealing, but my coworker let us try them and they are delicious!  I love mint and chocolate, so I had to go to the outlet during my lunch break and pick some up.  At 75 cents a pack, I had to pick up 3 packs and I'll probably stop by next week and get some more!

The first thing that came to mind for me was to use a Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (this is the recipe I used, but any recipe will do) and use the peppermint chunks instead of chocolate chips.  I followed my usual Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe except added some green food coloring to the batch to clue everyone in that it's mint flavored instead of tricking them into eating mint (it's hard to believe, but some people actually don't like mint!).  In addition to the food coloring, I added some green sugar sprinkles to the batch to add flecks of dark green.  The green food coloring probably isn't necessary if you're only making one batch, but since I was putting these on a cookie plate I thought it was important so people know what to expect.

I had considered adding more peppermint or mint extract, but in the end I'm glad I didn't because these have just a sweet hint of mint instead of being overpowering.  I think it is the perfect balance as-is, but if you like super minty stuff you can add a little extract.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Peanut Butter Heath Bar Cookies

I love peanut butter and I love Heath bars, so when I saw this recipe on the bag of Heath Toffee Bits, I HAD to make it!

The recipe is from the back of the bag, and the only thing I changed was to use butter instead of shortening (I might love butter more than Paula Deen!) and to put the entire package of Heath bits inside of the cookies instead of sprinkling some on top (half were going in the freezer and I didn't want the toffee bits to fall off when frozen).  I also made a double batch and only used one bag of Heath Toffee Bits and I think it was the perfect amount, but you can't really go wrong with adding more Heath toffee bits!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

Okay, here it is, the recipe for my absolute hands-down favorite cookie of all time: Oatmeal Butterscotch.  Between my dad and me, I think we can polish off an entire batch of these in just a few days.  Heck, I could probably do it myself!  Since they have oatmeal, that makes them semi-healthy, right?  Let me just pretend for a little while...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

3-Chip Cookies (Milk, White and Dark)

Although I am doing more than just baking the past couple weeks, my blog has turned into mostly recipes because the crafting I’m doing is mostly for Christmas gifts and I don’t want to ruin the surprise for the gift receiver!  Or they have been big fat craft fails… which I may or may not be brave enough to share.  After Christmas I should have a plethora of new craft posts, so just hold tight until then and try some new recipes!

Here’s another cookie recipe that I made and plopped into my freezer so it’s ready for baking right before Christmas! See my post about freezing drop cookies.

This is my first time making this recipe, and although they are good, it’s not a new favorite but with a few noted modifications I think it could be excellent.  See below for my twist on this Recipe

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mint Chocolate Cookies

These mint chocolate cookies are so easy and delicious!  I love them!

The original recipe comes from Mint Chocolate Delights from Nestle via Very Best Baking.  I followed the recipe except used only Green Mint Chips from Guittard (since they were less expensive than the Nestle brand and they have only the mint and no dark chocolate morsels) and used about 12 ounces instead of 10 ounces.  This recipe is one of my favorites and it freezes great so it can be made ahead of time then popped in the oven right before serving (see my tutorial on freezing cookie dough HERE)!  

Freezing Cookie Dough for Baking

I love baking for the Holidays.  Well, I love baking in general, but I love that the Holidays give me an excuse to do tons of baking.  What I don't love is the stressful marathon baking that seems to happen every year to get everything done on time.  Between the mixing, baking, sorting, and decorating I usually get burned out about halfway through my baking and just want to be done.

This year I'm going to start early to help alleviate some of the stress.  I'm not a fan of freezing baked cookies because something about it just doesn't seem right to me.  Cookies are meant to be freshly baked (and preferably still warm from the oven)!  Instead of baking then freezing cookies, I'll be mixing up the dough then freezing the dough so it is ready to be placed on the cookie sheet then popped in the oven.

I've tried freezing the dough once before with excellent results.  The best part is you can keep some frozen for yourself then cook up half a dozen at a time to avoid being tempted to eat the entire batch in one sitting (not that I've ever done that...).

For this tutorial (if you can even call it that), I'm using this recipe for Mint Chocolate Cookies, but any drop cookie recipe should work.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Snowman Poop with Free Printable

I have seen a few different Snowman Poop examples and printables, but I knew I had to design my own since I've been trying to find more reasons to do vector drawings so I'll get more familiar with the program.  This one didn't take long since it was just an outline, but it was still fun to put together.  Since it didn't take long, and it's not long before Christmas, I'm providing the printable for free so you can print at home and make your own Snowman Poop gifts!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Rustic Reindeer Plaque

I found really cute wooden reindeer silhouettes at Michael's and loved the Rustic touch of the metal holly near the antlers so I picked up a couple to play with. I'm loving the rustic and shabby chic decor styles, so I thought it would be fun to use a really dark stain on this and paint the holly with some red and green mixed with a dark brown to make it just barely stain the metal.