Thursday, December 31, 2009

Matchbox Tags

I took a lot of shortcuts this year for Christmas. Can you say "giftbags?" Yes, I recycled all the bags I had received over the past few years and just plopped my presents inside. It was pitiful. I just didn't have time to make gift bags and tags and make pretty wrappings like I had done in the past.

But then I discovered One Lucky Day - a gorgeous blog with all these wonderful tutorials showing how to make lovely tags! Oh my! I just had to go out and buy a snowflake stamp and play arround. I also had bought some matchboxes a while back, so I ended up combining a mathbox with a tag. A bit of stamping on the tag, covered the matchbox with some scrapbook paper, added a vintage picture and sticker, and attached a bit of ribbon and a jingle bell. I stuck a quarter and a perfume sample inside the matchbox as a little surprise for two little girls!

In case you are looking for further inspiration - Tags Reinvented is one of my favorite books!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Under my Tree

The cat finds a cozy spot.

-- Post From My iPhone

Little Laceys and a New Year's Giveaway!

I have enjoyed having two weeks off for Christmas vacation and having time to use my clever energy for something else besides lesson plans! It has been nice to be able to leave a few posts.

I went on a jewelry creating binge last week to make some Christmas gifts. I spent an entire afternoon making a bunch of these little lacey soldered tags. (And I have the burn on my finger after slip of the soldering iron to prove it!)

(Forgive the blurry shot)

I still have one or two left over that I didn't gift, so I thought I would have a little giveaway as a thank you for all the faithful readers who have kept checking back here over the past few months when there hasn't been very many new things to see! Just leave a comment below. Not sure when I will have a chance to pick a winner - probably on Sunday afternoon. Good luck!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Spinach Crab Dip

12 oz soft spread cream cheese
4.25 oz can crab meat, drained
8 oz shredded Italian cheese
1 cup frozen spinach
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Put spinach in a bowl, heat in microwave for about 20 seconds. Put in strainer and press out liquid with a spoon.

Reserve about 1/3 cup cheese. Combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste with seasoned salt, about a teaspoon or so. You could also add minced dried onion or other seasoning if you wish. Put into shallow ovenproof baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until bubbly and heated through and top cheese is golden.

Serve warm with slices of French bread or crackers.

This is what I served for an appetizer Christmas Day, and it was a big hit! And sooooo easy!

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Via Maria - Holland

Our family had lunch here for a pre-Christmas Eve celebration. Cozy inside with stucco and brick and pretty wood work.

Bruschetta was the best I ever had. Tomato, red onions, peppers, other veggies, and goat cheese tossed with balsamic, served
in a dish so you can mound it on their freshly baked toasty bread.

My brother's calzone with the artistically turned edge:

Huge steak sandwich topped with mushrooms:

My pasta with tiger shrimp, artichokes, tomato, roasted red peppers, and olives. Tasted great although I thought the sauce was a bit runny.

Service was a bit slow - probably had people off for the holidays. They ran out off several choices for dessert and we finally opted to skip it because of the time. But I'd definitely return - it's nice to find a good non-chain Italian restaurant.

Post From My iPhone

Via Maria on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Holiday Workshop

What I've been doing this weekend.....

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Vintage Ornaments by Candlelight

-- Post From My iPhone

Something to Watch - No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

I have been a fan of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency book series by Alexander McCall Smith for several years. Recently HBO made a TV show out of the series and it now is out on DVD. I've watched the first couple episodes (I've been able to get them at our local library) and I really think they capture the flavor of the books. The photography of Africa is wonderful and Jill Scott plays the main character with sweetness and sass. Here is the preview to the series:

If you have not heard of this series, it is the story of a "traditionally built woman" in Botswana who opens her own detective agency. I like this book because the mysteries are not violent or explicit and the stories have a gentle, fun spirit. The lives and problems of the main characters are simple and have a dusty charm to them.

Here is a link to more information on the DVD. I hoping to be able to watch the rest of the series over Christmas vacation.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Tree Remix 2009

This year I cut way back on my Christmas decorations. But when I put up my Christmas tree, I felt like I wanted to do something a bit different, so I pulled things from a variety of former projects to decorate. (Click on the links to see how I used the objects last year).

The tin ornaments I made last year:

My vintage postcards:

The mirrored snow flake ornaments:

Silver and gold balls I had collected for projects that I never made (look closely and you can see my reflection taking the picture:

Silver tinsel, silver beads, and lots of red berry picks tucked into the branches:

The end result is a vintage silver and red tree that looks lovely twinkling in the dark.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pearly Dangle Earrings

Another earring creation - lots of dangling pearls. Feminine and fun to wear!

Friday, November 27, 2009

City Flats Bistro Revisited

Nice lunch today in downtown Holland at CityVu Bistro at the City Flats Hotel. They now have a "Flat Rate" lunch with soup (a rich beefy mushroom), salad bar, and a variety of flatbreads for $7.99. Very tasty!

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another Pair of Earrings

Here's another pair of earrings that I made recently. I picked up the carved turquoise looking beads in Shipshewana this summer (just made of plastic, I think). I combined them with bali silver beads- kinda fun looking!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blue Topaz Crystal Earrings

Last week I decided I needed a little break from my lesson plans. I hadn't made any jewelry since summer. Earrings are fast - I can do a pair in under a half hour usually. I made these out of swarovski crystal to go with this necklace. Easy Peasy! It felt so good to do something non-school! And then, I actually made 2 more pair, so I actually have something else that I can post hopefully sometime soon.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rosemary Parmesan Biscuits

It has been so long since I have blogged here - I wonder if everyone has stopped checking in to see if there is something new???? Teaching fifth grade still has left me with hours of preparation and little time for anything else. But this weekend I wanted to take a break and leave at least one post to let everyone know that I was still alive!

I'm hoping to make this recipe for biscuits again today. It is based on a recipe from the USA Weeekend Magazine from February 2008. It has a neat trick where you grate frozen butter into the dough which makes these biscuits easy and flaky! I have added fresh rosemary and parmesan cheese to make them savory, but you could leave that out or add different flavorings.

Rosemary Parmesan Biscuits

2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen solid
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. With a fork, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Using the large holes on a grater, grate the butter into the bowl. Add the cheese and rosemary. Use your fingers to mix the ingredients. Add the buttermilk and stir with a fork or hands until just mixed. Add a bit additional buttermilk if needed.

Turn out dough onto a floured board and pat into a square about 6 inches across. Cut the dough into 9 squares. Shape each square into a roundish shape and then set on a lightly greased cookie sheet. (I use an airbake pan to keep the bottoms from getting too brown.) Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hanging Around Clever Karen - Episode 19

Broken Teacup Necklace with Soldered Edges

Sorry I haven't been hanging around very much in this corner of the blog world. All my clever energy is being consumed at iFifth - posting there, planning lessons, correcting papers, and all the wonderful and mundane stuff that is a part of being a classroom teacher. Hope you all are well - I miss being here!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Toile Provence Smock Apron

If you have a really good memory, you may recall the story of the upside down toile apron from last Christmas. That project was tucked away to be finished in the summertime, and I made another provence apron to give as a Christmas gift.

So here is the completed apron in all its upside fabric glory. I put red bias binding around the edges - not sure if I love it. But the style of the apron is wonderful. (Note: the directions for the binding are a bit confusing. But the designer of the apron visited here and offered to send unedited directions! See the comments to get her contact info.)

My favorite part is the criss-crossed straps in the back.

The pattern comes from A Is for Apron by Nathalie Mornu. This book has the cutest apron ideas! And here are the directions on how I used the Block Poster website to enlarge a scan of the pattern from the book.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Belgium iPhoto Book

One of my last projects of the summer was finishing up the digital scrapbooking pages about Belgium and getting an iPhoto book printed with the pages. Ah, you may ask, wasn't your trip to Belgium 2 years ago??????? Blush, yes it was. I've decided that digital scrapbooking takes too much time for a busy teacher. I think from now on I will just do photo books for trips and maybe scrapbook just a few pages.

I am very happy with how the book turned out. IPhoto is not a cheap option, especially when you make lots of pages, but the end result is beautiful!

FYI - I scrapbooked the pages in Print Shop, saved them as jpegs, and the imported the jpegs into iPhoto to create the book.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quartz and Turquoise Necklace - Remixed

Here's another necklace that I recently designed. This is a long necklace with quartz and turquoise beads that I made a couple years ago. I changed the piece that dangled down at the end. I added a circle from a toggle bracelet and then attached a long pendant with more turquoise and quartz. The orginal dangle was too small - this works much better!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Crust Pizza - Bloomfield Hills

Spinach Pizza with Pine Nuts

If you are a fan of crispy, wood fired pizza, you will love Crust. Located in the strip mall on Telegraph and Maple, Crust is a small restaurant decorated with lots of visible pipe giving it an urban feel.

Bianca Pizza

The menu includes soups, salads, and sandwiches, but the star is the pizzas. I've eaten here several times, and enjoyed each one that I tried. I especially have liked the Bianca Pizza and the Pancetta Pizza. You can also build you own from a selection of toppings. Each pizza serves one, and if you don't pig out you might have a slice or two left to take to lunch the next day.

They also have these neat little desserts served in shot glasses. During my last trip we passed on the dessert, but it is definitely worth saving room for a few sweet bites.

Crust on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 14, 2009

Maverick Star Quilt (for the cat)

When I bought my Poang Chair, I wanted to make some mini quilts to cover it to help control the cat hair. I did finish a small one that fits on the footstool. The "rules" were that I could not buy any new fabric - it all had to come from my stash!

I used this Maverick Star tutorial. I like this block because it is scrappy and I didn't have to have all the points matching - I am not that precise a quilter so don't look too closely to see if the corners match!

It took a few weeks, but now it certainly is the cat's favorite resting place. If you look closely, I'm sure you will see a nice overlay of cat hair!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Olive Straws

Over the summer I saw these Olive Straws being made on Martha Stewart. I thought they were so unusual. And I love green olives! (I made the recipe pretty straight from Martha's website, so you can get it there if interested.)

Not that complicated to make, just fussy. Basically you encase the olives in purchased puff pastry and cut it into strips.

It was hard to roll the puff pastry thin and tricky to figure out how best to cut the squares and fussy to cut the strips. They looked messy before I baked them but they actually looked ok once baked and tasted pretty good!


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