Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fancy Cocoa Mugs

Do you love a good cup of cocoa like I do?

I have to have it with marshmallows.
Lots of them.

And it turns out, hot chocolate's even better in a fancy mug.

I picked up these mugs at TJ Maxx this summer for only .99 cents each. I call them my world traveler mugs.

I had originally intended to use them as something cute to put pens in, but that never happened. So when the weather turned colder and I spied my mugs up on the counter? Fancy hot chocolate was calling my name.


Sipping steamy cocoa in Russia

Savoring sweet chocolate in Mexico

 Chugging chocolate in Morocco

It's all in the way you look at it, no? Who knew drinking hot chocolate could be such an adventure?

Sadly, one of my favorite fancy mugs with a big red lobster on it (I've always wanted to go to Maine) got broken. I guess I'll just have to go all the way to Maine to get another lobster mug. Honey? Did you hear that? You owe me a trip to Maine for breaking my .99 cent mug. That's only fair, isn't it? :)


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Edible Creativity: Key Lime Pie

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving! As always, it seemed to go by way too fast. And I'm not just talking about scarfing down dinner. You know what I mean, you work on it for 10 hours, you eat it in 10 minutes? Crazy phenomenon.

I'll admit, after all the holiday hoopla it's a little hard to return to reality. However, on the bright side, the countdown to Christmas has begun!

For our holiday feast, I tried my hand at making a Key Lime Pie I found on allrecipes.com, per the request of my 17-year-old niece.  It turned out pretty delicious, if I do say so myself. Creamy and light with just the right tang.
And no egg yolks, like so many other recipes.
  • Condensed Milk
  • Sour Cream
  • And ok, I did cheat and use Key Lime Juice, unlike the die hard pie makers who juiced 40 limes with their bare hands.



But I did zest 2 fresh limes to make up for it


And made my own graham cracker crust (I get a few points for that too don't I?)
  • 1/3c sugar, 6T. melted butter and about 10 sheets of crushed graham crackers




Pre-oven pie
Fingers crossed...


We had a little extra filling and crust, so we made a little sample. I mean come on, we had to make sure the pie was ok to eat, right?!


And voila! It only took us about 6 slices before we got a skinny enough slice of lime to put on top. haha

The price of perfection.


And in case you want to try it, here's the recipe, with *my changes:


Key Lime Pie VII 

Ingredients

1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
*2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup key lime juice
1 tablespoon grated lime zest

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, combine condensed milk, sour cream, lime juice, and lime rind. Mix well and pour into graham cracker crust.

[*Homemade graham crust: mix 1/3c sugar, 6T. melted butter and about 10 sheets of crushed graham crackers and press into pie plate. Bake for 5 minutes at 325, let cool a little, add filling and bake as the recipe states].

Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until tiny pinhole bubbles burst on the surface of pie. DO NOT BROWN! Chill pie thoroughly before serving. Garnish with lime slices and whipped cream!


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Saturday, November 26, 2011

De-wrinkle clothes in a pinch without an iron

I just wanted to share a quick tip with those of you traveling during the holidays or for those of you (like me) who are at home but just too lazy to use an iron. hahaha
{Science & Society Picture Library}

Did you know that you can easily de-wrinkle most clothing with a spray bottle and a little water?

It's true. 1950's housewives would be outraged, but I will show you how to de-wrinkle clothes without an iron. gasp!

All you need is a wrinkled shirt, a misting spray bottle and water.




Ok, here's how it's done.

This is a knit shirt (t-shirt material) but I also use this iron-free de-wrinkling method on cotton. I like to hang my shirts on a shower curtain rod with a hanger that swivels, for easy maneuvering.


Fill your spray bottle with water. Set it for misting (not streaming). I like to have a small size spray bottle so I can bring it with me in my suitcase.


 "Mist" the water all over your shirt.


Shake the shirt a little to help ease out the wrinkles, but not too much (you don't want it to stretch out). (How's that for an action shot?)



Leave hanging to dry. I usually hang my shirt out the night before so it has plenty of time to dry. No one likes wearing a damp shirt.


And see how nice and smooth it comes out? And not an iron in sight.

I didn't make this up, Photoshop it or swap the shirt out for its twin. It really works.





In addition to t-shirts, this easy de-wrinkling technique also works on sturdier cotton like button up shirts or khakis. Here's a little video to see my de-wrinkling skills in action!





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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Random thanks

Many people are scurrying around getting ready for Thanksgiving. Kitchens are filled with the scent of freshly baked bread, chocolate-chip cookies and pumpkin pies.

Me? I'm stuck in my house. Smelling regular air. Wearing an old pair of glasses with a prescription from 1999. Wah, wah, wahhhhhh.

Turns out wearing a torn contact lens can scratch your eye. Well gee. And putting off getting a new pair of glasses to save money? Not the best idea.

Needless to say, I'm thankful for contact lenses. And sometimes life gives you a reason to realize you've been taking them for granted.



And while I'm having a pitty party, you know what else I was taking for granted? The lovely trees that surrounded our apartment complex. I'm thankful for trees.

It's hard for me to even remember what it looked like just a few short days ago. Lush, green, comforting, peaceful.
Previous view
And this is what it looks like today.
Barren. Empty. Sad. Exposed.

View today

Our new apartment owner came in and chopped 10 beautiful trees down. All over the property. With no explanation. Ripping away our beauty and comfort, protection and privacy. Leaving us all feeling exposed, violated and unsettled. The warmth of our surroundings has diminished dramatically.

Poor giant beautiful tree. What did she ever do to deserve that?


And they even chopped down the lovely little tree perched just outside our kitchen window. Where will the squirrels play?
{And the Grinch grabbed the tree, and he started to shove When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove. He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who! Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two. 
 The Grinch had been caught by this little Who daughter Who'd got out of bed for a cup of cold water. She stared at the Grinch and said, "Santy Claus, why, "Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?"} [How The Grinch Stole Christmas]


But enough with the grinchy stuff.

The most important things I try not to take for granted are, after all, the things that really matter.

7 years ago Sunday, my sweetheart proposed.
I'm so grateful for a wonderful, loving and supportive husband. He's such a good man. I'm so lucky.


And I'm so grateful for my amazing family. Each one of them brings so much to my life. 



So I guess a day stuck at home bumping into walls with my old worn out glasses isn't so bad. :) It's all about perspective right?

A very Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 
Hope you're surrounded by those you love.

{eyeglasses image credit}


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Friday, November 18, 2011

Out of the mouth of babes

There are so many reasons I love my job working with kids. I found out yesterday that I made the top 2 on a sweet little 2nd grader's list of her favorite people in the whole world.

Just melts my heart and reminds me why I do what I do every day.

So many funny things happened this week, I had to share.

They tell is like it is:

1st grader: "Ms. Shannon, you wear those pants every day." [funny thing was, I hadn't worn them in about 3 weeks. Who knew they thought about your pants?]

A few minutes later...

Kindergartener: "Ms. Shannon, you're wearing boy clothes" [that day I was wearing some cargo pants and my husband's big puffy black coat because it was freezing outside. I guess technically, he was right. And it wasn't the most feminine of outfits. Again, who knew they even thought about your clothes??]


They're hysterical without even trying:
1st grade boy: [Took my large kick ball and returned with a much smaller ball.] "I shrunk your ball...and it's not a decot, it's NOT a decot."
Me: "A decot? What's a decot?"
1st grade boy: "You know, it's not really the thing?"
Me: "Oh, you mean a decoy?"
1st grade boy: "Yah, that's what I said, decoy."
[Starts walking away, but turns around], "But I didn't really shrink your ball. I was just kidding Ms Shannon. This was already small. Your ball is over there. Don't worry.
Me: Oh good, I was a little worried.


1st grade girl: "Ms Shannon, let me hug you."
[she leans in and hugs me, then steps back and asks], "Did you see my foot come up?"


So precious.
Who knows what today will bring?

Have a great weekend everyone! xx






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Thursday, November 17, 2011

A cookie riddle

When's a Samoa not a Samoa?
When it's a Coconut Dream.

Thank you Keebler.

It's safe to say I'm obsessed with Girl Scout Samoa Cookies. I anxiously await cookie time each year and commonly enjoy 2, 3, 4 boxes (who am I kidding)?

We ran across these Coconut Dream cookies the other day at the grocery store I had to do a double take. Fake Samoas? They couldn't possibly have the same caramely/coconutty goodness as the Girl Scout cookies do. Or could they?

Of course we grabbed a box. And I'm being honest. We only bought one.

And slap me senseless, they are SO close to the real Samoa's it has to be illegal! I mean really. Isn't it?  {I think I just heard a Girl Scout cry}

The thought that I don't have to wait a year for Samoa Girl Scout cookies anymore is both exciting and terrifying (for my thighs).

This discovery was much too good not to share with my fellow Girl Scout Samoa Cookie fans. You'll have to try a box and see what all this fussing is about!


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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Painting and Drawing on Fabric: Finding my inner artist

I've been wanting to try fabric painting for a long time. I even picked up some cute stencils, black licorice fabric paint and a foam brush a while back, but never got around to trying.

I decided that today I wanted a pick-me-up project. And I wanted it to be something new (heaven forbid I actually tackle all those unfinished projects). So I pulled out some fabric scraps, painting supplies, and away I went.

I have to say, like many things I try lately, I'm hooked!

I found yet another thing to be obsessed with. Painting on fabric.


I can't even deal with how much I love these letters.
The old-style script with the antique look of the paint....sigh.



And don't get me started on the lovely Fleur de lis.


Okay, so that's it. I know, whooptie doo. But that was my test run. And now that I know I'm not a total fabric painting spaz, I have some ideas brewing...I see dishtowels, a tote or two and possibly a hobo bag in my future...

Onto the next adventure. Drawing on fabric with a fabric pen (sharpies are taking a back seat at the moment).

I mentioned a while back how much I LOVE Isak Zenou's illustrations, and I wondered, could I recreate something that wonderful, on a t-shirt? I wanted to try. (And just so you know, I wouldn't ever try to sell a copied version of his illustrations, like they'd pass anyway, but it's just for my own fun.)

Supplies:
  • Izak illustration printed off my computer
  • White piece of paper to back it
  • Tape
  • Fine tip fabric pen
  • Piece of bleached white muslin
  • Black licorice fabric paint and fine tip brushes (optional)



I taped the picture to the window (with a piece of white paper behind it), taped the white muslin on top of that and traced it with a fine tip black fabric pen. The window made a perfect light box.


I'll admit, I tried this with black paint instead of a fabric pen first, and it was bad. I mean BAD. My paint brushes were way too wide so when I was done it basically looked like she'd been punched in the face. And had cried a lot. While wearing large amounts of mascara. You catch my drift? I felt really bad for her.

So here's my attempt with a fabric pen (top copy is the print, bottom is my tracing)
It's clearly no Izak Zenou, but it's a start.

I tried another illustration while I was at it (top copy is the original).



It was seriously fun!  I'll let you know when I decide to go for it and take it to the next level - actually draw on my white t-shirt. Had any experience designing t-shirts with fabric pens? I'd love to see what you came up with!


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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blog Swap: starring Dresden

I'm happy to have Dresden, from dresdencarrie.com, sharing her talents with us today for our Blog Swap! She was sweet enough to share a tutorial with all of us, for a darling {LOVE} pillow. Enjoy!

Hi all you wonderful Shannon Sews readers, my name is Dresden and I have a blog called dresdencarrie.
Shannon and I are doing a little blog swap and I wanted to share a quick tutorial with you.
But first, here's a little more about me. I work for Silhouette as a graphic designer and absolutely love my job! I post on my blog in my free time and wish I had a little more time to do so. I love sewing and blogging. Of course I love browsing Pinterest, come see my page and see all the things I love.
I hope you'll stop by my blog and take a look around!

This tutorial shows how to make a really cute pillow using the Silhouette SD machine, but you could easily do this without it. Just replace the next few steps with tracing the letters onto your fabric.

The fabric interfacing from Silhouette is one of my favorite products...hopefully this tutorial will give you an idea of why I love it so much!




Use the Silhouette Studio software to type out your letters and choose your font, 
I used American Typewriter.
Then iron the interfacing to the back of your fabric, remove the paper backing

and put the piece on your cutting mat.



Here are the letters after I cut them out, I love how crisp the edges turn out. Not to mention how super duper fast it is to cut them out compared to cutting them out by hand. This can easily be done by hand too, just print out your letters, trace them on or pin on and cut out.



The Silhouette doesn't cut burlap so I cut a piece of burlap large enough for each letter. If your pillow is going to be used a lot (like on your couch or around kids) I probably wouldn't recommend burlap, it frays very easily.


Iron on each letter to the burlap, the interfacing has a double sided adhesive which makes it very easy to get your pieces in the right place.




Trim around the edges, but not too close, yet.

Cut your backing fabric to the size you want and pin each letter in place.




I sewed around both sides of the burlap and also through the middle of the letters.




This is what your piece should look like once they are all sewn on, trim the excess burlap




I chose to use an envelope closure for my pillow, cut 2 pieces of fabric. The height should be the same as the front piece, and the width is about 1/2 the width plus 4". My front piece was 17" x 17" so my 2 pieces are 17" x 12". Iron along the long edge and sew down.




Place first piece right side down with finished seam toward the middle.




Lay the second piece face down with finished seam toward the middle.



Pin in place and sew around all four edges. Turn right side out and put pillow form in.

And you're done!




I love the coordinating back piece!


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, come stop by my blog and say hi!


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