Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Freebie - Feed Your Soul Project

Just a quick post-Christmas note before I scoot out of town again. I am headed to a blissfully small town and a house with NO computer or internet! I wanted to share this link, though, just in case you didn't get everything on your wishlist from Santa. Cheer yourself up with a lovely and FREE print from the Feed Your Soul project. Gorgeous art to print at your convenience from some serious talent in the illustration world - Elsa Mora, Jessica Rose, and so many more. Happy Holidays indeed!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays!

garland, originally uploaded by craftapalooza.

We are headed over the river and through the woods for the rest of 2009. Enjoy this holiday season!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fri-DIY - Gift Packaging

Christmas is nearly upon us! I hope all of your presents are made or purchased and awaiting the final gift wrap touch. A great present is so much better when wrapped with extra attention. AND beautifully wrapped presents look so much better peeking out from under a tree or handed to someone special. This week's Fri-DIY has some lovely and easy ways to amp up the anticipation of unwrapping a present.

I love the combination of fabric and paper for the gift tags above. She handily provided her cute template to download, but these could be made from scratch easily enough as well. Heck. you don't even need the fabric, use a piece of the wrapping on the present and be super coordinated!

Peapods idea to recycle old catalogs into gift tags is pretty, practical, and earth friendly. Santa likes it when we recycle. I love that she used a punch, but circle or rectangles would be just as nice.

If things are just TOO busy to craft pretty packaging, Domestifluff has kindly offered her adorable printable gift tags for free! Print, cut and stick.

And for even more ideas, head over to The Martha for a slide show of over 70 gift wrap ideas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Meatless Monday - Fried Deviled Eggs

Day 320

Even though I am a recipe junkie, I still sometimes I stumble across a recipe that totally surprises me. This one from The Splendid Table did just that. In theory, I supposed it could work. An egg with all the extra flavors from juiced up yolk filling AND the crispy edges of a fried egg sounded tantalizingly like the best of both worlds. However, I have been led astray by novel recipes before, so I hesitated a bit before plunging ahead with this one. It didn't disappoint, though, and was really easy as well. This would be an interesting lunch dish for any house guests who might be around during the holidays. I've modified the original recipe a bit and cut it in half so the recipe below will feed two as a main dish for lunch or 4 as a side/first course for supper.

4 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon very finely minced onion
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon white vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Dressing & Salad:
Leftover egg stuffing
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons white vinegar
4 cups baby spinach, well-washed and dried

Cut each egg in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out yolks into a medium bowl. Reserve the whites on a small plate nearby.

Add mustard, onion, milk, mayonnaise, vinegar, and salt and pepper to the yolks and stir well to combine. They will make a thick paste.

Carefully stuff each egg white half with the yolk mixture. Level off so that the stuffing is level with the edge of the egg white, not mounded up like with traditional deviled eggs. This is important so the eggs will lay flat when they are fried. Reserve remaining stuffing to make into the dressing.

Fried Deviled Eggs

Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil over medium heat in a large non-stick pan. When hot, place each egg stuffed side down into the pan. The oil will bubble up some, so be careful and keep a close eye on the pan. Fry the eggs until the crisp up, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan and turn stuffing side up onto paper towels to drain.

In same bowl with reserved stuffing, add oil, mustard, and vinegar. Stir well to make the dressing. Put spinach in a large bowl and add dressing, tossing to coat evenly. Plate the salad and top with the fried deviled eggs.

Friday, December 11, 2009


This week's Fri-DIY brings together tutorials to make some great last minute gifts. Christmas and Hanukkah are right around the corner and who isn't strapped for both cash and time right now. These gifts could be whipped up this weekend and be ready to go. Next week I'll have a collection of fantastic gift wrapping ideas to wrap these cuties up.

There are so many things to do with a simple drawstring bag. Happy Things tutorial is very easy to follow even for a beginning sewer. See the notes at the bottom of her post for ideas how to finish the inside seams to make it a little tidier for gift-giving. Make a bunch give them to your friends who travel a lot. They are great for stowing shoes, bathing suits, or dirty laundry in a suitcase.

For friends who imbibe, why not try this interesting recipe for Skittles Vodka. Seriously, it just looks cool. Make one big batch and then put in small bottles to share the rainbow of vodka.

I love this idea to re-use vintage earrings as magnets. If you have some laying around, this project is super easy to complete, probably taking a half hour or less for a set of ten. Think how pretty they would be on your favorite fashionista's fridge.

Finally, a customized clipboard would make a great gift for a teacher, a writer, or a super-organized list-loving woman (ahem). Skip to my Lou shows two different techniques for making this adorable gift.

Scissors sharpened and at the ready!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Freebie - Christmas Stickers

Christmas Stickers Traditional

Tis the season of giving, so here are some cute Christmas stickers I designed. Stick them on presents, to close holiday cards, or on anything that needs some holiday cheer. I've made them in traditional colors and in brighter colors, if you prefer something more hip. Enjoy!

Christmas Stickers Bright

Monday, December 7, 2009

Meatless Monday - Blackened Citrus Glazed Green Beans

Citrus Seared Green beans

I was lucky enough a few weeks ago to meet the Lee Brothers at an event a few weeks ago. Their new cook book is really fantastic and they are just as charming and witty in person as their writing. These beans were inspired by their Skillet Green Beans with Oranges recipe, however, I couldn't be bothered with the sectioning of the orange and what not the evening I made this. I did, however, have some fresh squeezed citrus juice handy thanks to the husband's excellent bartending skills (see below for a bonus holiday cocktail recipe). My tastebuds are indebted to the Lee Brothers for pointing out the lovely combination of green beans and citrus.

We ate these along with some delicious steamed crab legs. The combination of the sweet crab and the tender, citrusy green beans was great. However, the beans would also be good alongside poached or grilled chicken breasts or steamed fish fillets.

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb green beans, trimmed
juice from 1/2 lemon
juice from 1/2 lime
juice from 1 clementine, or 1/2 orange

Combine the juices from the lemon, lime, and clementine in a small bowl.

Add oil to a large non-stick skillet and heat over high heat until just smoking. Add the beans in a single layer to skillet. Cook for about 8 minutes, only stirring every 1-2 minutes so the green beans get nicely charred.

Remove pan from heat and add the citrus juice. Swirl around pan to coat the beans until nearly all the juice has evaporated. Remove from pan immediately to prevent the juice from reducing too much and burning. Serve warm.

BONUS RECIPE: The Clemaretto Sour

The husband came up with this recipe a few years ago. Since clementines are only available for a short time around the holidays, this is the perfect cocktail to serve at a Christmas party or before a big holiday dinner. I suppose an orange could be substituted for the clementine, but then it wouldn't be as special!

Juice from 1/2 lemon
Juice from 1/2 lime
Juice from 1 clementine

Combine the juices in a cocktail shaker. Depending on the juiciness of the citrus, it should be between 1/4-1/2 cup of juice. Add an equal amount of Amaretto to the juice and a lot of ice. Shake until chilled, then strain. Serve in a martini glass with a wedge of clementine to garnish.

Friday, December 4, 2009


This week's Fri-DIY is full of inspiration for decking the halls this holiday season. I am so in love with the Rosette wreath above, but it seems like the kind of project that I would have needed to start last June! I think it would also look great done in tissue paper. Maybe that could speed the process along?

Never pay money for gift bows again thanks to the great tutorial over at How About Orange. She always has great ideas, but this one really is a winner.

Martha's pretty idea marries art and twinkle lights. The perfect solution for a dark corner in need of some Christmas spirit.

While cutting strips for the gift bows, cut a few more to make these pretty paper ornaments. I'm planning on making them supersized and hanging from the ceiling this year.

Happy crafting!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Meatless...Thursday? - Olive, blue cheese, tomato omelette

Day 315

Wow, I didn't anticipate being so busy after the Thanksgiving holiday, but here it is Thursday and I haven't even gotten around to posting a Meatless Monday recipe. So here it is a few days late. Don't blame the recipe, though. It's delicious and totally not at fault for my tardiness.

This recipe is based on a similar one from my current fave cookbook Olives, Anchovies, and Capers. All the ingredients are staples in my fridge, so it was easy to throw this together for a very quick dinner. This would also be a wonderful brunch dish. Toss a green salad and go.

1 Tablespoon butter
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chopped black olives (oil cured black olives or straight from a can, don't use kalamata or green olives as a substitute, they will taste weird with the blue cheese)
1/4 cup chopped grape tomatoes
2 Tablespoons crumbled soft blue cheese, gorgonzola or roquefort

In a 12" non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Swirl around pan to cover bottom. Add eggs and cook a few minutes. When edges begin to set, lift them carefully and tilt pan so the runny uncooked egg will flow under the omelette. When the top begins to set, sprinkle olive, tomato, and cheese on one side of the omlette. Carefully fold the other side of the omelette over top the filling and let cook just until cheese melts. Slide omelette out of pan and onto serving platter. Use a big sharp knife to cut thick wedges. Serve immediately.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Day 316

Remember this post where I waxed poetic about embellished tops? Well, I finally found a few hours to make one for myself. It wasn't too difficult and just took about an hour and a half. This could even be a no-sew project, but I zig-zag stitched around the exterior of the appliques just for fun. So, if you find yourself with some time to spare this holiday long weekend, try out this project and whip up a lovely new top for just a few dollars.


1 T-shirt with a collar, in your size (mine came from the local thrift shop for $3.00)

7 6"x6" scraps of cotton fabric, any color

white paper


sharp scissors

paper-backed fusible webbing (I like wonder under)


1 sheet white tissue paper

Embellished T

Step 1: Lay T-shirt out on work surface. Carefully cut out collar and remove. Try to make the cut as even and symmetrical as possible.

Embellished T

Step 2: Cut out templates for the appliques from the white paper. I used a rounded shape, but triangles or pointed shapes would work well, too. You will want 2 of each shape going down the neckline and 1 of the shape at the bottom of the neckline. Each one should be longer than needed so a little extra extends beyond the neckline. That part will be trimmed off later, Arrange them on the shirt to make sure they are big enough to overlap slightly around the new neckline.

Embellished T

Step 3: Make sure the templates fit with a little room to spare on the fabric scraps. Trim the scraps into squares, leaving at least 1/2" border around the templates (this makes the next step a lot easier).

Embellished T

Step 4: Cut pieces of the fusible webbing slightly smaller than each of the fabric scraps. Bond to the fabric using the manufacturer's directions. Do not remove paper-backing yet! Trace each template onto the paper-backing of each fabric scrap, remember to do 2 of each coming down the neckline, and then cut out the shapes from the fabric. After each shape is cut out, the paper-backing can be removed.

Embellished Tee

Step 5: Lay T-shirt out on ironing board. Take the piece of tissue and place between the two layers of T-shirt at the neckline, making sure that the entire edge of the neckline is covered with tissue. This is to make sure nothing accidentally gets bonded to the back of the shirt.

Embellished Tee

Step 6: Lay the webbing-backed fabric pieces along the neckline. No part of the T-shirt along the neckline edge should be exposed. Fiddle with them so they are symmetrical on both sides of the neckline.

Embellished Tee

Step 7: Iron the pieces in place according to the fusible webbing directions.

Embellished Tee

Step 8: Flip shirt inside out to expose the backside of the fabric pieces which have been bonded to the tissue. Rip the tissue so only the pieces actually adhered to the fabric remain. Carefully cut along the neckline to remove the excess fabric.

Embellished Tee

Step 9: Flip shirt right side out and all done! I did choose to zig-zag stitch along the neckline and around the appliques, but that's totally optional. Wear your new shirt with pride, just don't throw it in the washer or dryer. This baby is handwash and air dry only!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Thanksgiving day this year begins with a 4AM trip to the airport! Luckily, turkey and pie await at my destination, something to be thankful for indeed. Though I will be in a turkey stupor still on Friday, I have scheduled a really great Fri-DIY with a totally new project by yours truly.

Here's hoping you the best this Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Meatless Monday - Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

Piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese

This week's recipe could not be easier. A little messy - you will have goat cheese under your fingernails all night, but it's so delicious you won't mind.

Piquillo peppers are a Spanish staple and luckily are becoming widely available here in the States. They are the best peppers from a jar ever - smoky, sweet and tender. If you can't find them near you, jarred roasted red peppers will work, too, but they'll need to be cut in half or quartered.

This dish is served as tapas in Spain, and it really is best as a snack or appetizer. It's tasty even when served cold, but better after a few minutes under the broiler to melt the cheese inside the peppers. These would be great on top crusty rounds of toasted french bread or eaten straight from the pan in barefeet in the kitchen.

Day 309

1 jar Piquillo peppers, 8-10 peppers total
6 ounces fresh goat cheese
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat the broiler. Drain jar of peppers and pat peppers dry with a paper towel. Gently open each pepper and stuff with goat cheese (mine took about 1 Tablespoon cheese per pepper). Arrange peppers in a shallow oven-proof dish. Pour olive oil over peppers and sprinkle garlic over all. Broil for 5-7 minutes until hot.

Friday, November 20, 2009


How is it that Thanksgiving is just next week?? The gift-making and gift-buying time for Christmas is drawing short. I've put together a few gift ideas this week, like the gorgeous headband above from Jeannie over at Project Wedding, a stress-free Thanksgiving idea, and a lovely advent calendar. Get those scissors and Sharpies ready!

I love these Thanksgiving place cards from the Pink of Perfection. They are three of my favorite things - lovely, simple, and free. Send the kids out to gather the leaves, write the names, and scatter on the table. Beautiful.

The purl bee has another wonderful craft tutorial - mini patchwork pin cushions. Make a bunch this weekend and have a pretty gift for every sewer you know!

Finally, the wonderful crew over at Mibo have made a fantastic advent calendar. For free! This lovely gem is just an email away. Also check out their adorable Christmas Creatures, they make me smile.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Meatless Monday - Braised Belgian Endive with Balsamic Vinegar

Braised Belgian Endive with Balsamic Vinegar

Late fall and early winter brings forth glorious greens. Among them are the lovely snowy teeny heads of Belgian endive. While I can't decide the best pronunciation for endive, I certainly do enjoy eating it. When raw, it is incredibly crunchy and bitter. It's great chopped in a salad with other greens, but too bitter to stand on it's own. However, give it a nice slow braise to take the edge off and it turns into a tender, complex early winter vegetable dish.

I served this over polenta to catch all the cooking juice and vinegar run off. The blue cheese is optional, but adds a nice extra oomph to the dish if serving as a main course.

4 small heads Belgian endive
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Cooked polenta
4 Tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (optional)

Remove any bruised outer leaves from the endives. Trim a little off the core end, but don't cut the core entirely off. Halve each endive lengthwise.

Braised Belgian Endive with Balsamic Vinegar

In a medium dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the endives, cut side down, and cook 5-7 minutes until beginning to brown. Flip over and cook another 5 minutes until both sides are browned.

Add wine to pan and cover. Cook 25-30 minutes until the endives are soft.

Add vinegar to a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer until reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully, it can go from perfectly syrupy to burned mess in just a few seconds.

Pile polenta in center of individual plates. Top with blue cheese crumbles then endive. Pour reduced vinegar over endives. Season with freshly ground pepper.

Serves 2

Thursday, November 12, 2009


This week's Fri-DIY is chock full of good ideas for crafty gifting, and one pretty gift to make for yourself. It's not too late to whip up some fantastic gifts for the holidays (at least that's what I am telling myself) so break out the fabric paint or sewing machine this weekend and make one of these great projects.

How about orange (great blog, please read her) put up a terrific tutorial for freezer paper stencils. It has been YEARS since I tried my hand at it, and her post was a great refresher. She did a cute tote bag, but how about using the technique on linen dish towels, baby onesies, or T-shirts?

How About Orange also led me to Sew Mama Sew, which led me to this great tutorial to make a scrap fabric tree pillow at Cluck Cluck Sew. It's time's like this that I love the internet. PS - Mom. I see that Cluck Cluck Sew was mentioned in that Quiltmaker you showed me during your visit, small world!!

The Martha has a tutorial showing how to make pocket tissue holders. These would make great stocking stuffers for everyone on your list.

Twig and Thistle made these adorable S'Mores kits. I love this project because it shows how something simple can be deconstructed, repackaged, and made into a great gift. Keep these in mind for any kiddies on your list this year.

Finally, inspired by yesterdays post about embellished shirts, Kayte Terry shared a great tutorial over at the Storque to make a pretty rose T-shirt. The rosettes would also be great sewn onto a scarf or cardigan.

Happy DIY-ing!

Dress Up - Embellished Tops from Anthropologie

This seems to be the season for embellished tops. Everywhere I look there's another applique, a rosette, some funky ruffles. I love it all. These tops from Anthropologie make me want to start ripping seams and sewing on my own embellishments on some tired shirts way back in the closet. I especially love the appliqued top in the upper right corner. Looks simple enough to translate, I think I'll give it a shot!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Meatless Monday - Mushroom and Celery Salad

Day 137

My mother has been in town the past few days and I have over-indulged in her good cooking. I feel like I should pay penance and eat meatless all week, starting with this light, lovely salad.

Mushrooms and celery make a great combination, earthy and chewy versus fresh and crisp. This salad wouldn't say no to being served over a bed of freshly washed greens. Or serve it alongside a broth-based soup (like egg drop) for a light supper. If not eating meatless this is a great side to simply grilled chicken, steak, or fish.

1 pound fresh white mushrooms, cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 ribs celery, finely sliced
1 Tablespoon onion, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Mushroom and Celery Salad

Combine mushrooms and celery in a large bowl. Combine onion, lemon juice, and mustard in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil to make dressing. Add Parmesan to dressing and stir to combine. Toss with mushrooms and celery. Serve chilled or at room-temperature.

Friday, November 6, 2009


This week finds me thinking fondly of the upcoming holiday season. We're travelling every holiday this year, so no entertaining at my house. But I am still dreaming of setting a pretty table. This week's diy links are great inspirations! I love the favor bag / placecard pictured above. They look pretty straightforward to sew and could coordinate with the table linens! These would also be cute to make and leave on pillows for any overnight guests.

I love these punched tin votives because they are inexpensive and use recycled materials. These would be great punched with letters and lined up on a mantle or used as place cards on a set table. Painting them white is a nice touch, but they would be lovely and rustic just left silver, too.

This awesome dingbat font of die cut shapes would really be useful for making gift tags, name tags, cute ornamets, cards, etc. They are generously offered for free by clever someday, she only asks that you make a donation to the Ronald McDonald house, a very worthy organization.

Another pretty use for paper wrapped around an inexpensive vase. Pretty paper is so easy to come by, and I love these projects that show how to incorporate it into decorating and entertaining. I snatch up paper I love and keep in on hand for projects just like this!