All Holiday Sugar Cookies

Looking at these cookies you wouldn't be able to tell what holiday we were celebrating.  That's what happens when you make sugar cookies in August!  This is my mom's recipe and they are amazing.  This is a fluffy cakey cookie that loves frosting.  I love sugar cookies that have some thickness to them.
Sugar Cookies

1 cup margarine
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk*
5 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Beat margarine, sugar, eggs, and vanilla together until smooth.  Gradually add the buttermilk*.  Add dry ingredients.  Mix.  This is a sticky dough when warm, so don't be alarmed if it's not your typical chocolate chip cookie dough.  You could add another 1/2 cup flour if you want.

Place dough in fridge for at least 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll out on well-floured surface and cut with cookie cutters.  If you don't use enough flour, there is no getting it off the counter in a recognizable shape - just too sticky.  The dough won't be workable it if gets warm, so keep the extra dough in the fridge when not in use.

Place cut out dough onto greased pan and bake for 8-10 minutes.  The cookies should not look brown or golden at all.  Carefully transfer to cooling rack.

*Buttermilk can be substituted: 3/4 cup milk + 1 tsp vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes before use

"Go Team" Cafe Apron

The whole time we lived in California we were close to my husband's parents.  Luckily, there was a cool uncle for the kids to play with still living at home.  My brother-in-law is now beginning his freshman year at BYU!  Congrats!  And in honor of his moving forward, I made something special.

There's actually 3 parts to the gift.

1) In the past year, after lots of tests, they realized he is lactose intolerant big time.  Even if something is cooked that had a milk product in it, his stomach (not intestines) will kill him for the next 3 days.  SO I put together a milk-less cookbook for him of easy meals for a freshman...and maybe a couple of easy ones with extra ingredients to impress the ladies.

2) All college kids are starving students, so I will be sending a box of some fun food items with the cookbook.  And probably a couple of ingredients/spices for the recipes.

3) AND this is an apron blog right?  It's high time I made another apron to post.  So here you are.  I wanted to make a team apron for the upcoming football season anyway, so this was perfect timing.  It's not perfect, but I think it's pretty cool - and manly enough for him to wear.  (Although my husband thinks all aprons are girly no matter what material they're made from).  I think I need to make one for myself now.  A cafe apron is great for team sports anyway because when you're serving nachos or buffalo wings you don't really need a full apron anyway.  Go make yourself one!

I used skinny ribbon for the ties.  So much easier and less time consuming than flipping ties right-side out.  

Crustless Quiche

I have never been the biggest fan of quiche, but I've now had two kinds recently that I love.  One of them is from the brunch with friends, but I still don't have that recipe.  The other is Chrissie's crustless quiche that I'm going to divulge to you today.  Chrissie is one of those people that is always put together, has a beautiful home, and is gracious to everyone.  You're missing out not knowing her.  Before we moved we had dinner at their home and this is what she made for us.  I called her a couple days ago to get the recipe and wa-lah, here we are today.

Be prepared for some very happy tastebuds!
Crustless Quiche
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups bisquick
1/4 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1/4 cup melted butter
Filling options: 
1 cup grated cheese (cheddar and/or other)
diced ham
bacon bits
sausage without casing
sliced mushrooms
sliced green onion
diced tomatoes
diced peppers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat all ingredients, except filling options, with a mixer until smooth.  Pour into an ungreased deep pie dish or other round pan of choice.  Evenly distribute your filling options of choice over the top of the bisquick mixture.  They will sink into the dish.  Top with the cheese last and press down lightly with a fork so the bisquick mixture is covering everything.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until top is golden.

Welcome to the new quiche!

The Time Teller

Do you have the problem in your house where your little ones ask "what are we doing today," you rattle off a list of items, and they look at you and say, "what!?"  Then you back track, repeat maybe just the next thing you're going to do.  Then you go to the clock and point where the big and little hands should be when that next activity occurs.  This works well, but I think I have come up with an even better solution.

This is the Time Teller.

Instead of them asking you all the time, every morning you can organize it together and they can check it themselves throughout the day.
What you need:
Fabric - cut 16"x48"
Coordinating Thread
A clock

Felt Gerber Daisy

Yes, here I am again with another felt flower.  I think I'm having too much fun!  I made another one as well, but I'm not completely satisfied with it (it needs a bag to go on), so you'll have to be happy with this one.  It is definitely the easiest of them all so far and only has two layers where the others have had three.  

What is Oozie?

While I lived in family student housing I was a resident assistant.  For a program that I organized, I had residents demonstrate their authentic cultural food for other people.  One of my good friends, Sondos, showed us how to make a traditional Syrian food: oozie.

It is light, has simple ingredients, and you really just eat it for the awesome yogurt sauce.  You can't fail with this one.  I made it the other night and already want to make it again.

from Sondos

1 cup long grain white rice
2 cups water
0.5 - 0.75 lean ground beef
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp all spice
1 cup frozen peas
1 box frozen puff pastry sheets
Salt to taste

2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled and chopped finely
2 cloves pressed garlic
Palmful of dried or fresh mint leaves (fresh is so much better!)
Salt to taste
Juice of one lemon

Thaw puff pastry at room temperature 30-40 minutes prior to assembling the pockets.  See packaging for more details.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large pot, saute ground beef with the cinnamon and all spice until browned; drain fat.  Pour in water and rice and bring to a boil.  Add peas, cover pot, and decrease heat to lowest setting.  Let that cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until all the water has evaporated.

Roll out and cut the puff pastry sheets.  (I used the fold lines and also cut three lines across - making 9 squares total).  Stretching each pastry sheets slightly, spoon some of the rice and beef mixture into the center of the square.  Fold up the points together and then squeeze the touching sides together to seal the package.  Set aside on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (aluminum foil with some pam works too).  Repeat with all the squares until none are left.

Put the puff pastry packages into the oven for 20 minutes at 375 degrees, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees for another 10 minutes until golden in color.

While the packages are baking, make the yogurt sauce.  Combine the yogurt, chopped cucumber, garlic, mint, and lemon juice.  Then salt to taste.

*Oozie is typically eaten with the yogurt sauce spooned on top of the packages or on the side.

**I had to stop myself from eating the sauce all by itself!  So good.

P.S. I asked Sondos for anther good recipe to try, so I'll let you know when that happens.  She did give me her friend's Middle Eastern Cooking blog Bhibik ya NehNeh that I'm excited to try a few new things from.  

Peony Flower Tutorial

This was a very fun flower to make and there are lots of variations in folds that you could do.  Here's a tutorial for this version.  Let me know what you think and if you make one and LOVE it!

What you need:
Felt - color of your choice (I would get 2 sheets just in case)
fabric scissors
hot glue
thin cardboard
netting - optional
pin clasp 

Felt Peony Flower Brooch

I had so much fun with the Felt Dahlia Flower Brooch that I've decided to make some alterations on the design.  Instead of points on the ends of the flowers, we now have rounded curves.  I really think the netting is a nice compliment of textures with the felt.  As for the center, it can be made of felt, other coordinating fabric, a fabric covered button, or (as I choose here) a regular button.  The fun part about making them is that they are quick, there's lots of colors to choose from, and they really add a *pop.* 

I have some other ideas up my sleeve, but would you like a tutorial for this one?

P.S. This is what I did this weekend

This place was awesome!  Have you ever been?

Avocado Egg Rolls

These were a fun experiment.  My fryer had been on the counter for a couple weeks (after samosas) waiting for one more use before I tossed the oil.  It was between this and onion rings.  

BJ's avocado egg rolls really are so good and warm and I want one right now.  This is a pretty good knock-off recipe.  When we were there last I wrote down the ingredients from the menu and looked up some others - like the tamarind honey sauce.  Hopefully you'll like this little appetizer adventure, too.

Avocado Egg Rolls
serves 4

4 oz cream cheese
2 Tbsp sun dried tomatoes, small dice
1 Tbsp chipotle peppers, small dice
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp red onion
salt and pepper to taste
3 avocados
egg roll wrappers

1/4 cup tamarind pulp
1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

olive oil

A Preview: Little Girl Pants and Avocado Egg Rolls

Last night I sewed up some pants for my little missy.  Pants are a hard thing to find for her.  Basically, we need all elastic waists and they just don't make them in her size.  I've taken measures into my own hands.

I have more to put together, so look for a tutorial in this next week.

AND - have you ever been to BJ's?  If not, it should definitely be on your list.  Here's the list of their appetizers and you must have the avocado egg rolls.  There's nothing like warm avocados for comfort food.  Wow these really got to me.

I decided to try my hand at them.  This is what I ended up with and they were really good.  Were they just like BJ's, no.  Were they still really good, yes.  I'll be sharing this recipe with you in the next couple of days.  Yum!

Wall-E Blanket

To continue with our boy theme, it's time for a guest spotlight!

This is Amy.

She's one of my super crafty friends who has a second nature for seeing something and creating it herself.  She loves "Enchanted" and really can make herself a dress from drapes.  She likes Birkenstocks and stilettos equally.  Her favorite color is yellow.  Something unique about her is that she was born and spent her younger years growing up in Saudi Arabia.  She has also lived in Tonga for a year and a half.  She make a mean asian chicken salad.  Although she does not have an affinity to baking cookies, she makes delicious apple blueberry pie.  She's kind, open-minded, a great listener, and completely real.  And if you see her examining the sidewalk, don't worry, she really likes ants.

Today I'm showing off the Wall-E blanket she made for her little buddy.  She wanted to make something unique and special that her son would like and this fit the bill.  It turned out so beautiful and I wish you could see in person.  I know beautiful is a funny word for Wall-E, but I'm really talking about the handi-work.  :)

To give you a better view of all the individual stitching, I captured some close-up photos.  She cut every piece out of felt first, positioned, pinned, and sewed her life away.  Her little boy has loved this blanket.  The back fabric is fleece and it is connected with a corresponding piece of fleece, then held together with a binding.

Isn't this detail amazing.  I should hire her.  I know she would appreciate some comment love!

My Monster and Me

Next up on the boy list is MONSTERS!  I think you might want to make one as well.

Here's the how-to:

Take two pieces of felt the same size.  Lay them on top of each other.

Drawing with a permanent marker, decide the shape and layout of your monster.  Let the kids help you decide on the shape: hair, spikes, round or square head, lots of arms, tiny arms, feet or pogo foot, skinny or large, etc. 

Cut out your creature.  I cut about 1/4" inch outside the line to allow for a seam.

You should have two cutouts of the same creature on top of each other.

I pulled out my button collection and let the kids choose their button eyes.  I then hand sewed them on.

I cut out a wiggly round "growling" mouth and a couple teeth.  Then I sewed with the shortest stitch length possible around each piece to hold them onto the monster's face.

They should look something like this.  I put the matching shapes right side together and sewed all around the monster leaving an opening about 5 inches.  I had the kids help stuff them with Cluster Stuff, a small ball, soft fill - much better than batting for stuffed animals.  I hand sewed the opening.

Here's another cute monster from Little Bit Funky, she even sells them in her shop.

If you have some monsters to show off.  Comment me and I'll include them in this list!

Southwestern Steak & Pasta Salad

Okay, so I'm going to give you two things today.  I've just been eating good food recently and want to share that as well as fun projects.  So there.  :)

This past weekend when my in-laws were in town, I wanted to make something good.  I think the pressure to impress has stayed - well, that and I love to cook something delicious for company.  You HAVE to try this!  It's light, but filling.  It's colorful and healthy.  You can go without the steak to make it vegetarian and you could even add more veggies.  It's definitely a keeper.

Southwestern Steak & Pasta Salad

8 oz multigrain or whole-wheat penne pasta
8 oz lean boneless beef sirloin steak
1/2 tsp ground cumin (& to taste)
1/2 tsp salt (& to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 peppers, mixture of green and sweet
1 ear fresh corn (or 1 can corn)
1 medium sweet onion, cut in 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut in bite-size chunks (about 2 cups)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice (but in half, taste, and then add more)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I always at least double this)

Cook pasta as package directs.  Drain and let cool in a large serving bowl.

While pasta cooks, rub steak with 1/2 the cumin, salt, and pepper.  Grill 4-6 minutes, turning once for medium-rare.  Put peppers, corn, and onion on the grill as well for 8-10 minutes, until lightly charred and tender.  Turn as needed.

As food is cooked, move it to a cutting board.  Let steak rest 5 minutes before cutting.

Cut peppers in bite size pieces, cut corn off the cob.  Add all vegetables to pasta bowl, including tomatoes.  Slice steak thinly across the grain and add to the bowl.

While pasta cooks, thinly slice raw steak against the grain.  Coat with cumin, salt, and pepper.  Heat frying pan and oil in a pan.  Add steak to the pan and cook on medium-high, turning once, until your desired tenderness.  If you have a lot of steak to cook, do it in batches.

Turn on broiler.  Slice and dice peppers, onion, tomatoes, and corn off the cob (omit corn if using canned).  Lay out all vegetables in a single layer in a large cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Broil, keeping and eye on them.  You want the vegetables to be soft and just browning.  When you see the tops of the vegetables browning, stir and spread out in a single layer.  Let them broil for about another 5 minutes.

After steak and vegetables are done, mix into pasta bowl.  Add drained can of corn to pasta bowl as well.

Add olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, and the rest of the cumin, salt, and pepper.  Toss to mix and coat.

*Note: you can grill the tomatoes or put them in fresh with the mixture.  This recipe is good warm and cold.  YUM!

Ay Ay, Matey, Here's my TREASURE MAP

So you can make dresses for girls, you can make cute ruffle swimsuits, you can make flower bows for their hair, bracelets, necklaces, shirts, skirts, and tutus.  So the real question...what about our boys??

I've decided to undertake the question.  I'm beginning my own series of boy inspired sewing ideas (and if you have some for me - send them my way to be featured).  This doesn't mean they aren't fun for girls, just that they ARE for boys.

You will see other projects in between, but be on the lookout for some boy love.

Up first is the TREASURE MAP!

We've been exploring a lot of model homes recently and one of them had a boy room decorated like this.  So this is our first inspiration.  (P.S. We really like this house)

Our second inspiration is a book I checked out at the library with ocean activities in it.  It had an idea to make a treasure map in it.  This is my buddy's interpretation.  I love it.

I told him I would make one out of fabric that he could use for a long time.

We had so much fun making this together.  We sat down with my 2 pairs of fabric scissors and cut out little pieces for the different obstacles.  His were quite wonky and square and chunky.  This means they were perfect.  I just used them as they were.  I think this gave him a sense of ownership as well.

Then I shortened my stitch length all the way, did a zig zag stitch, and wa-lah, the pieces were stuck on! (I was intimidated to do this and now I don't know why.  If you need some encouragement, leave me a comment and I'll cheer you on!)

This is it in process.  I did a big square of blue fabric for the ocean and cut out a large island and sewed it on the same way as the small pieces with a shortened stitch length.

After we cut out the little pieces, I pinned them in place and got to work.  Sew on every edge of fabric.

Then we were ready to play.  He didn't want to wait for me to hand sew the trail to follow, so we played with it like this for the day.  We ended up setting up the whole house as the island - same obstacles in towel, pillow, and stuffed animal style.

I made patches for all our eyes with some cereal cardboard and thin elastic stapled to the sides.  They thought I was pretty cool.  Points for mom!

After they went to bed, I was able to hand sew the trail of x's.  I think this turned out really cute and they really can play with it for a long time to come.

And for some close-up shots.

Be brave, make something new.  I think it would be fun to do the same thing for my little girl - princess style.  Let me know when you make one, I'd love to see it!  What do you think?

Earring Hanger Tutorial

This past weekend has been a fun one for us.  We had my husband's parents stay the night, I made some really tasty food, and I still squeezed in some sewing.  I'm very excited to show you what I concocted.

Here is my Earring Hanger

The reasons I like it are 1) it works for all my dangly earrings and 2) it also works for all stud earrings.

I think it turned out really functional and also classy looking.  I like the black and white/cream colors so it will match with lots of things and not be an eye-sore with different decorating colors.  That's just me.  

You could make it match your decor as a splash of color.  It really is a fun and versatile project.  It would also be a great gift for a sister, cousin, mom, or friend.

A Bag Flower

So I was in the car and I brought along the following:

Light pink fabric, cut in circles
Safety pin

I wanted to make a cute little flower for my bag and this is what happened.  I love it.  It's simple and adds just enough girly girl-ness to make me happy.  Go to Tea Rose Home's tutorial for a how to.  
I stuck my safety pin through the back and simply hooked it on a loop on my purse.  When the flower is too frayed, it comes of easy.  Or if I get bored of the color, it's easy to change.  I am loving this idea!

I Heart Artichokes

My husband is convinced that artichokes are disgusting, I on the other hand do not.  They are a conversation food if you will.  To sit and eat an artichoke with someone is to have a deep conversation, or a funny one, or a simple one, or whatever.  The sum is that it's supposed to be fun.  Well, and also delicious.  

I like a little bowl or real butter, melted.  My favorite part...the heart.  Have I eaten 2 in one sitting.  Yes. How do you like yours?

The End of the Royal Wedding

So I will finally stop talking about "the wedding" that has been looming over us.  However, I do have to give you a couple more pictures to show you how fabulous it turned out.

Aren't they adorable!  This was a dancing picture during the reception.
 Here's my token self-portrait.  I didn't even get any pictures with the bride on my camera, so this will suffice to tell you that I was really there.  (even though we're in the car on the way there)  My buddy was wearing his BOW TIE, my girlie a FLOWER CORSAGE that I made.  It was fun to see everything in use.
 Yah, I don't think she knew I was going to put this picture in a public place.  Actually I took it and showed her and her comment was, "you can delete that one."  Sorry, not anymore.  :)  Look at those ZIPPER FLOWER HEADBANDS!  I love it.
Isn't this beautiful.  This was the eating area.  The food area was behind me to the left under a gazebo and the dessert area to my right under the fire pit area.  At night the whole thing was lit up with white Christmas lights, tiki torches, and candles.  The sunset happened about halfway through and we had a perfect view of the lake from our viewpoint.

The house that we used for the reception was a friend's.  My sis-in-law was their nanny last summer and they just moved into this house 5 weeks ago.  When they found out she was getting married, they offered the house for free for the reception.  So so nice.  It was the first time I had met the homeowners and they were so gracious and helpful and flexible.
 I love the chair covers.  You would never know that simple brown folding chairs could look so classy.
 Here is the apron showcase in action.  I've been so excited to take pictures of the RECEPTION APRONS while being used.  

There was one at the drink table.
 One cutting the tri-tip.  
 One with the desserts.  Natalie is so much fun.
 And one running the kitchen.  Lori was awesome.
The fruit claimed another.  I love Kathy.
 And of coarse the CLEAN-UP GIRLS' APRONS.  Don't they look cute?
I'm so glad I got do so much to help.  We set up, we ran it, we took it down again.  It was beautiful and classy and elegant and a perfect night.  My mom-in-law did an amazing job preparing for and setting it all up.  She's one awesome lady that I'm really glad to be related to.  Isn't family the best?!
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