Monday, November 28, 2011

Week 4

Almost didn't get these done either. Saturday I was shopping all day and had a trivia thing that night. Sunday I had to work, but made myself make these afterward. Only 1 month til Christmas, I have about 3 more recipes.

Tri Level Brownies
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For bottom layer, in a small bowl stir together oats, the 1/2 c flour, brown sugar, and baking soda. Stir in the 1/2 c melted butter. Press evenly into bottom of an ungreased 11x7x1 1/2-inch baking pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, for middle layer, in a medium bowl stir together egg, granulated sugar, the 2/3 c flour, milk, the 1/4 c melted butter, the 1 oz melted chocolate, the 1 t vanilla and baking powder until smooth. Fold in walnuts. Spread evenly over bottom layer. Bake about 25 minutes more or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place pan on a wire rack.

3. For top layer, in a medium saucepan combine the 1 oz chopped chocolate and the 2 T butter. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Stir in powdered sugar and the 1/2 t vanilla. Stir in enough of the hot water to make a mixture over middle layer. Sprinkle with the 2 oz bittersweet chocolate. Cool completely. Cut into bars. Makes 16 to 24 brownies.

This picture is to show the layers. It's not a great picture, but you can kind of pick out the oat layer, the brownie layer and the chocolate layer.

Ornament Swap

Remember how I was saying I wanted to join some swaps? Well, I joined 3, two of which I remembered and one I did not. I got an email last Sunday asking for my address so my partner could send me the ornaments. I couldn't remember I'd joined this swap, but after she sent me the link to it, I do remember filling out a form. Anyways, here's what I sent her:
I decided to shop at local shops, I think it's more fun than going to stores everyone has access to. One store I went to is called Worldly Goods, it has handmade ornaments from countries all over the world. It's a fair trade organization (I think that's what it's called), where all the money from the things they sell goes right back to the people who made them. I loved the 2 paper stars, and the "Joy" is actually cut from a coconut shell.

These are from a store called Great Stuff, I got all 16 of these for a great price, and couldn't pass them up, especially since my partner said she liked brown ornaments.

Here's what she sent me:

Lots of blue and silver sparkly ornaments. I love them.

I really love that star one on the top. I told her I was trying to collect more snow items and in blue, pink or purple. I am so sick of dreary and dull lately.
These really brightened up my apartment.

She also included this cute little snowman card. Thank you Sonya.

The other 2 swaps are handmade ones, once I get them mailed and/or receive confirmation that my partners have got them I will post on my other blog.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blogger annoyances

Is anyone else having troubles adding blogs to their following on blogger? I added a couple a few weeks ago, and it didn't have them in my list last weekend. And then today, I noticed again, they weren't on my list. So, I added them again.

Any suggestions?

Week Three

I almost didn't get these done this weekend. I had to work both my jobs on Sat, and didn't have enough time inbetween, by the time I got home Sat night, it was 9PM. Sunday, I had one job and then went shopping with my mother afterward, and completely forgot until I was in the shower.

Creamy Peanut Butter Bites

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
21 bite-size chocolate covered peanut butter cups, halved
unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl combine butter and peanut butter. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Bead in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. If necessary, cover and chill about 30 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.

2. Shape dough into 42 balls, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Press a halved peanut butter cup into each ball and shape dough aroung peanut butter cup to enclose. Place cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool. If desired, sprinkle cookies with cocoa powder.

I love this recipe, I am not a big fan of peanut butter, but these are great. I didn't get 42 cookies out of it, I got about 28. Maybe I made my dough too big, I don't know.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winter Decorations

My partner for the Vintage Stocking Swap asked to see my Christmas decorating style, and I decided to share with the rest of you some pictures as well. She asked what my decorating style is, I really don't have one, I have snowmen. I'm trying to branch out and do snow as well. My style is every shelf and every nail in my apartment has snowmen on it, of course I did decide I had a few too many the other day and had to take some down. This is a very picture heavy post and I apologize if some of the pictures are blurry or dark.
This is one of my 'trees', it's actually part of our Japanese lilac tree, we had to cut it out because it was dead, so I took it and stained it. I think it's pretty cool. I love the Santa troll in this pic. There's also an Italian glass snowman, a Russian snowman, and a cool Christmas palm tree.

Here I have 4 snowmen candle holders with peppermint looking candles. There's also a lighted penguin in there. I've noticed lately, I buy less snowmen (I have over 200), and more wintery items.

I love the black tree in this photo, I found it at Borders a few years ago and loved it. I also love the vintage looking ornaments on it. The crocheted snowflakes I found at a garage sale this year, I had been on the lookout for them for awhile. I also have an Iowa State snowman in there. Iowa State University is located in Ames, and I love snowmen that have the logo, or colors on them.

Here's the other side of the above pic, with more snowflakes and the tree again. The M&M used to have candy in it, but I love him anyway. I also collect fake roses, the ones in this picture are made from wood.

This is my DVD shelf. Again there is the ISU snowman. I've also been on the lookout for things that say "HOPE". Ever since breaking up with my ex, that has kept me going, so I love the word. You can see some glass pieces that I couldn't part with enough to put away for the season. I also am trying to decorate more with pink, purple and blue, just to brighten up my apartment.

Here's my radiator, you can see another fake rose, this one's actually made out of velvet, I have a cool paper one too, but that's been packed away. You can also see some of the rose pins I collect. I bought the sparkly poinsettias last year after Christmas, I've had them out all year. I love flowers, and if they're fake (not so much silk ones), they last forever. Remember, I'm trying to brighten up my apartment.

This table is granite (I think), it's supposed to be an outdoor table. I've been looking forever for some kind of doily, or something to drape over the edge. The edging here is held on with double stick tape, and doesn't even go all the way around. You can see a decorated shoe with some clay ornaments in it, my mom bought these as part of a fundraiser, I think they're cute, and I don't even collect shoes. I love the Christmas nesting dolls.

This is another one of my bookshelves. My faves in this pic are the white containers (I'm drawn to those lately), the snowman in the bathtub, the snowmen stocking holders and the green ornament. The snowman with stars is actually a lamp. I made the cross stitch snowman. There are even more snowment hanging from the stocking holder. You can kinda see my snowman snowglobe. His bottom is filled with confetti, very cute.

This is massively blurry, sorry. There's another cross stitch snowman in there. You can see a Christmas mouse, when I was younger I collected mice, I still have some floating around. I like the garden snowman. You can also see my just finished Halloween piece, yeah I'm a little slow on art making. The snowmen are hiding my shelf of Piers Anthony books, I'm a huge fantasy fan.

I love the blocks in this picture, they spell out "collector", with snowmen as the o's. You can also see the frogs I haven't packed away for the year, and a beautiful pink scarf I got in a swap.

This hanging was a creation from a group I did. I love handmade ornaments/decorations.

This is a little dark. In the middle of this picture, is a ceramic tree that lights up. My grandparents had one of themse when I was a kid, there's holes in the tree where the red and green plastic pieces are and a lightbulb underneath it. Unfortunately I don't have plastic pieces for all my holes.

Here's the top of my refrigerator, the snowmen in my kitchen live there all year long. These are more ISU snowmen. The bookstore at ISU, used to have a snowman every year, but then they stopped making them. The santa and snowmen in the middle is musical.

This is my kitchen radiator. These are mostly ones I picked up at garage sales. There are two cookie jars in there. The one on the left side is musical. I love the Santa frog. The one with the beanie on it, is an artist snowman. There's also a salt and pepper set.

I've been drawn more to different and unique snowmen lately, mostly because I have so many. Like I said, I like mostly winter things, since I collect snowmen. I do have a few just Christmas ornaments in my house, but not many. I like seeing snowmen that are 'artists' or have artsy things with them, I love ones with my name on them.

So, that's my apartment right now. How are your homes decorated? Have you even decorated for Christmas yet?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm Tired

The pictures in this post have nothing to do with it, I just figured you'd want something to look at while I whine. They are some of my favorite finds this summer.
I am so ready for a day off from working. I get next Thursday (Thanksgiving) off. By that time I will have worked every day for a month between my two jobs.

I never realized how very stressful it is to deal with the public all the time. I work at the library, and I take tickets at basketball games. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of nice people in the world, and I get to deal with a lot of them, but I always have at least one rude/annoying/whatever person when I'm working.

And I seem to get so many more at the library, between not reading things, not thinking about other people, and just not paying attention, there's a lot of them.

I would like a day where I can just sit at home and watch TV or read and not be bothered by anyone. I would turn my cell off and unplug my land line, and just ignore the outside world.

I've noticed I get really annoyed and grumpy so much faster lately. More things just get under my skin. This morning I was pissed at my computer for moving so slow, I was so annoyed, I thought about calling in sick. It wasn't even 8AM and I was really angry.

I know I shouldn't be whining because there are plenty of people that work way more hours than I do, and in so many more stressful jobs.

I also have a lot of things to do before the upcoming holiday season. I'm trying to keep up with my baking every weekend, I have 3 swaps I need to make things for and send out.

My initial thought with my baking was that I had more time on the weekends. This weekend, I'm working at the library in the morning of Sat, and then go to my other job that night, and I work a game on Sunday.

I signed up for a Steampunk charm swap through one of my Yahoo groups. I have no idea how to create steampunk charms, but I love swapping charms. I have some green leather I plan to use, I also have some metal number plates that I think are off of church pews or something, but I have no idea what I'm going to do. I have some bullet casings that I'd love to use, but I don't have a drill to use.

I signed up for an ornament swap at Button Floozies. We're supposed to make 3 ornaments where buttons are the main item. I'm planning on making 5 ornaments, one for each person in my group, one for me, and one for a stocking swap I signed up for. I'm thinking about sewing little shapes and adding buttons to them. I haven't started those out, I believe they're supposed to be in the mail in two weeks.

I signed up for a vintage stocking swap where we're supposed to make a vintage stocking and then fill it with gifts for our partner. I'm planning on sewing some of my vintage linens and hankies onto some quilt batting in the shape of a stocking. I went shopping for my partner yesterday at the antique mall that's closing, so I have the gifts for her, now I just need to start the stocking.

I'm wondering if part of the reason I'm so annoyed lately is because I haven't been doing any artwork. I've always said music and my artwork keep me sane, and with the stuff I have due soon, I should do some.

At least I have a bunch of my Christmas shopping done. I have one more thing in the works for my mother, and then I'm done shopping for her. All the presents I have are wrapped and waiting to be put under a tree or in a stocking. I don't have my Christmas list done though. I have 4 things on it, I just don't know what to put on it.

I'm annoyed with the post office, I sent a package to Virginia on the 2nd and it still hasn't arrived yet. It was for a swap that was due on the 10th. I told the hostess if she gets all of them before mine, she can go ahead and swap out. I would love to hang out with friends, and go shopping. I would love to do something fun.

I'm just so ready for a break. Even when I'm in my house, I can't just read in peace because my dad has his stuff up so loud underneath me.

Hurry up and get here, Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lots of pictures

OK, this is gonna be a long post. The antique mall in my town is going out of business and today was the last day they were going to be open, so I had to see if there was anything else I needed. I
These next 3 pictures are from a bag of linens,
I love that blue and white flower

My favorite piece is the one in the lower right hand corner.

The ribbon is more papery than ribbony, the buttons are little tiny green shank ones.

 I love things where you don't know exactly what's in it.

And here's what was inside:

I never look at the buttons here, but since they were going out of business, I figured 'why not?'. The two cards are a mottled brown/purple shank, two large black horn ones, white ones, a large green one, and a group of misc buttons.

A boot ornament cut from metal, a Santa ornament, a mirrored tree, and a reindeer.

Some vintage Valentines

A white Czech pot, an Alabaster owl bell carved in Italy, a red and white flower pot, a china doll head. It was there last time I went through, and I kept thinking about it after I got home, I think it will be a good thing to use in my artwork. I also love the Iowa gold wire coin purse.

I just wanted the fish card on the top of this bundle, the pound puppy has a tag that says "1/4 pounder", he was there a few weeks ago when I went through, I'm glad he was still there. The doll's dress says "Lime Parfait", she kinda looks like a Strawberry Shortcake doll.

The lace dress I think has silk on the bottom, a brown hanky, and a crocheted medallion.

I signed up for a vintage stocking swap, so I was really glad we got our partners before the antique mall closed. Some of the items I bought are for that, others are just for me, or Christmas presents

Monday, November 14, 2011

What If....

I stole this from Nicole, I love meme's and haven't done one in a loooong time.

What if I were to get pregnant?
I would not be happy, I am not a big fan of kids, and would probably have an abortion.

What if I could have any job in the universe?
I would love to get paid for my artwork.

What if I had the day to myself?
I'd probably just go shopping downtown. I have lots of days (well, not the whole day cause I work, but generally afternoons) to myself, and I have so much fun wandering through stores. I would love to just wander through an antique mall, unfortunately, ours is closing tomorrow.

What if I could get married?
I changed this one (it said all over again, I'm not married), I admit it, I never planned my wedding as a kid. I do love checking out the bridal magazines and looking at the dresses. I think it'd be cool to have a handmade wedding, course I'd have to have a boyfriend first.

What if I could live anywhere in the US?
I'd take Okoboji, IA. I love going there on vacation, unfortunately, I think being there all the time would make it less fun.

What if you could have any talent in the world?
I like the talent I have now, my art.

What if you met me in real life?
I'd love to meet some of my followers in real life. I like to think I don't really hold much back, so hopefully, you'd like me.

What if I went back to school?
I would totally take some of those anthropology classes I wanted to take, and maybe some art ones.

What if money weren't an object?
I wish. I could move to my own house, have a room just for my crafting supplies, have a dog, spend as much as I wanted on crafting supplies and clothing.

What if I could meet one celebrity?
I'm not big on meeting celebrities, but I'd love to meet the guys from Supernatural. Of course, I'd probably just grin and blush and not say anything.

What if I could shop at one store for the rest of my life?
Micheals. Hey, it doesn't say what kind of store. I love going to Micheals, they have so many cool things there. Thankfully, the closest one is 45 minutes away, so I don't get there very often.

What if I could choose any pet?
A dog, totally. I love hanging out with my friend when she brings puppies to town. I'd love to have another guinea pig too, maybe some day. I miss my pig.

What if I could go on a trip right now?
If money still weren't an object, Hawaii. I loved it when we were there a few years ago, I would love to explore more of the islands.

What if I had to choose between a house cleaner and professional chef?
Totally take that cleaner. Only thing is, I can find everything in my messy house. Maybe they could just clean up the bathroom and kitchen. I'm trying to get better at cooking/baking, so that would totally kill that.

What if I had the option to get plastic surgery?
Maybe get some of my fat shaved off, course if I exercised more, I wouldn't need that.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Week Two

This week's cookies, weren't what I had originally planned. My first plan was to make chocolate chip cookies, but then I thought those were boring. My second plan was to make Chai Crescents, but then I realized they are cut out cookies, I don't have a rolling pin, wax paper or cookie cutters. I may borrow those things from my mother and make them later though. So, this is my third plan, Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies. And the picture doesn't do them justice, they are supposed to be (and are in real life), the color of mint ice cream.
Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4-1/2 teaspoon mint extract
6-8 drops green food color
1 egg
1 cup creme de menthe baking chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks

1. Mix cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg in bowl, until soft dough forms. Stir in creme de menthe baking chips and chocolate chunks.

2. Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Serve warm or cool completely. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

This is supposed to make 36 cookies, when I mixed up the dough, it looked very small, so I made 2 batches, and now I have tons of cookies. I used 1/2 t mint extract in the first batch and thought it was very minty, but after tasting the cookies when they were done, they weren't overly minty. I used 1/4 t in the second batch, and haven't tasted those yet, but with the creme de menthe chips, I bet they're still fine.
I used the 8 drops of food coloring and liked the color.
I didn't realize that creme de menthe baking chips are actually just Andes mints chopped up, I used a leftover bag of chocolate chips instead of chopping up chocolate.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

We Won!!!!

It's official, the townspeople of Ames have voted to gut and add on to our library. YAY!!!!! HAPPY DANCE!!!!!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Baking Time

I decided to try and bake some bars/cookies for this holiday season. Every year my aunt has done this for me, so I thought I'd repay her, plus I get more practice baking.
I decided to make a different recipe every weekend (starting the first weekend in November) until Christmas. This week it was Chocolate Revel Bars:
I will post a picture and the recipe here for anyone who reads this to enjoy as well. All my recipes are coming from 100 Best cookies by Better Homes and Gardens. It's a magazine I bought last year.

Chocolate Revel Bars
1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Reserve 2 T of the butter for filling. In a large bowl beat the remaining butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and 2 t vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Stir in oats.
2. For filling, in a medium saucepan combine the reserved butter, chocolate pieces, and sweetened condensed milk. Cook over low heat until chocolate is melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in nuts and 2 t vanilla.
3. Press two-thirds (about 3 1/3 c) of the oat mixture evenly into bottom of an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Spread with filling. Crumble the remaining oat mixture evenly over top.
4. Bake in preheated oven about 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned (filling will still look moist). Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 60 bars.
To Store: Cover pan and store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.