Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wedding Gift

Ryan's brother is getting married in San Diego on Saturday, so we're flying off to California tomorrow. I picked up these specimen boxes from Michael's a couple months ago, with the intention of this project for wedding gifts (though at the time I picked out the project for Ryan's sister who was engaged, too) for both of the couples. I finished this project last night and although I had a minor freakout because I got way too much ink on the monogram, it ended up giving the project an aged look and I went to town on the rest of the elements.
*I couldn't edit the flash spot/glare out of the pictures - oh, dangit*

I really like how it turned out. So much so, that I'm going to use the other box I picked up to do this with one of my and Ryan's engagement pictures.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Butter Cookie Recipe

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups flour

Preheatoven to 375° F. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add baking powder and flour - one cup at a time, mixing after addition. The dough will be very stiff; blend last flour in by hand. Do not chill. Roll out (I did it in batches) to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.

Bake 8-10 minutes.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies
*Chelsea's tip: The key is not to overcook them. Once they start puffing a bit, they're usually done and they won't usually brown at all. I use my SilPat when baking and the bottoms don't brown either.

It also says not to chill, but I did just a little bit because I wasn't going to use it right away... either way, it works really well not chilled at all. Use powdered sugar to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin and/or surface.

For the icing...well, I kind of combined recipes and did my own thing, but here's a guesstimate of what I did.

Powdered Sugar Icing.

6 cups powdered sugar (I just kept the bag handy and added until the right consistency)
1/4 c butter
2 tsp. almond or vanilla extract. I prefer almond with these cookies, but it's your call
1/4 cup milk, plus more for the right consistency.

Basically, combine butter and about 2 cups of the powdered sugar. Then add the almond extract and some milk. Then alternate until you get a good amount of frosting with a spreadable (it should coat the spatula/spoon but still 'flow'). Then you'd divide your frosting for coloring, add the coloring and probably a bit more powdered sugar for piping. The trick is to get the thicker piping icing the same color as the flooding icing. It takes some practice. For piping I just use a round decorating tip in the corner of a freezer-safe (they're thicker) ziploc bag. The disposable frosting bags aren't big/durable enough and I don't want to bother cleaning the non-disposable kind.
*here's a tip: When trying to put icing in the bag, it helps to use a tall cup or glass and put the bag, tip down, it is. Fold the top of the bag over the top of the cup to secure. Super easy to fill.

Anyways, pipe the thicker icing as an outline on each cookie and then use the thinner icing to flood the outline.

Happy Baking!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

While digging through pictures today

I found this.

It's probably one of my favorite baby pictures. There's another one where I decided to play in the dryer and the outfit my mom picked out is so flipping cute. I'll have to find that one.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

10 Things... didn't know about me.

1. I love Martha Stewart's Weddings magazines. Even after I got married I subscribed to the magazine and I keep tons of old issues around. I think they have the best ideas for parties and decorating with that special touch.

2. I HATE the word YUMMY. I see it more and more in blogs (mostly food blogs) and I can't stand reading it. I'm okay with rachel ray's yum-o, and sometimes yum, depending on the context, but yummy...uh-uh. I also don't like the word veggies - just say vegetables.

3. I love real estate. I love looking at houses for sale and would some day like to be in a position to rehab houses. Not flip, no, that's too risky. I'm wanting to restore them. And I especially love older homes. This leads to #4.

4. I don't care for houses with garage doors in the front. oh, man, i hope this doesn't offend anyone! Not the purpose in the slightest, especially since about 99% of new homes have HUGE garages interrupting the facade of the home. I think this is why Ryan and I prefer older homes when garages weren't necessary for the horse and buggy. We're kindred spirits in this opinion.

5. I love scrapbooking, but I rarely use pictures. I'd say I'm more into paper crafting. I love seeing pages others have created, but I just haven't sat down and used pictures in scrapbooking for AGES.

6. I have a hard time finishing projects, largely in part to my project a.d.d. Self-diagnosis, but it drives my sweet sweet husband crazy. I get bored with projects easily, so I'll start 3-7 projects and come back to them time and again until they're finished. He calls this the Watkins' curse - I'm not the only family member guilty of being easily distracted. Good thing I'm an Alexander now, eh?

7. I want to open up a sweet shop bakery. This may not surprise many of you, if you've had the treat of tasting the fruits of my baking. I love to bake. My poor chubby (that's the nicest way to say fat, me thinks) body doesn't like it, though, so I'm not doing much of it at present. Anyways, this bakery of mine wouldn't really be a true bakery. We'd only sell cookies and sweet cakes and cupcakes and other decadent desserts. Oh, and all the decor in the bakery would be for sale. It would be a bakery and boutique all-in-one. This way all my seasonal decorations would be sold by the time the next season rolls around.

8. I've lost 120 lbs before. ...and then gained most of it back. As a freshman I lost 40 lbs from walking all over campus and not wanting to trudge down the the Morris Center when I was hungry. It jump started my attitude and over the course of 4 yrs I lost 80 more lbs. It took a LOT of work and a ton of exercising (obsessively and addicted), some not-so-healthy 2 mos of flirting with bulimia, and some developing of gall stones. I am KICKING myself for gaining weight back since I got engaged/married. Saddest story of my life, but I met the man of my dreams and I was so happy and content and preferred spending time with him than going to the gym. Oh, and see #7. Those didn't help.

9. This is in relation to #8. I don't have a gall bladder. I developed gall stones from not getting enough calories (I worked most of them off at the gym) and so I had the option of taking meds the rest of my life or having it removed. I got it yanked. I can't remember when it was exactly, I'm thinking it was in either 2002 or 2003, August of one of those years. It's the only organ in your body that's green. Kind of cool trivia. Anyways, the most annoying side effect is that I have no idea how food will effect me. And it's not the same reaction for the same foods. One time I might be fine, the next time I have to get to a bathroom within 10 minutes of eating. Not the funnest thing, but it's not the end of the world. Sorry for too much information. Anyone else missing their gall bladder?

10. I love cleaning when I'm pissed-off.
Seriously, if you want me to clean furiously, just piss me off royally and I'll start scrubbing toilets and doing laundry and organizing. This isn't an invitation for my husband, mind you, but I get so much done when I'm fuming. Otherwise, I'm way too laid-back and nonchalant about lots of things. It makes for a less stressful life.

Okay, so that's all I've got for now. I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you feel so inclined to carry on the tradition, go for it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

My dream home

I know many of you will think I'm crazy (Hillary) but I LOVE older houses. Sure, new homes have their beautiful features, but I really like the look of an old home, one reason being is that the garage door isn't the biggest feature of the front of the house.

Moving on, I found THIS HOUSE. It's not in Lawrence, but in Kansas City (Kansas). I would LOVE to have this house as a rental property. In speaking with a guy that lives in Topeka, he said KC, KS is a really rough city. I might be willing to put up with it for these kinds of built-ins and hardwood floors and fireplaces. Sure, needs work, but what house doesn't when it's only $33,000.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

For Angie

she wanted to see what the clippies look like in hair. love them. Probably wear one at least 4 times a week, if not more.

When Two Spatulas Love Each Other Very Much...

She inherited her mother's figure.

Baby spatula found at $1 store. LOVE it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ellie's last feature

So, I think this is my last post about my newest niece Ellie, but I had to share these pictures Hillary had done with her.

Hillary and the kids came up for Conference Weekend (basically, my whole family was here, minus my brother-in-law) and she got some newborn shots of Ellie. Her BFF Wendy had a baby 2 weeks after Ellie so they both had pictures done by one of Wendy's friends. Look how cute Ellie is:

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A few more projects

I saw this idea from someone else, but they actually embellished their letters and it's not the style of our front room, so I thought, oh, I can do different shades of gray and black and possibly use a few rub-on swirlies. As you can see, I opted to keep them simple and clean-lined in black. At first I thought I had too many letters, but after I actually laid them out and then hung them, I think it's just the right amount. I'd even venture to say there is room for a couple more.

I ordered them from Say It With Letters and while the quality is always great, they took FOREVER to get to me (like, 3 times the estimated time given). However the chick that does them is currently on bedrest, pregnant with twins, so it's understandable...I just wish I would have known how flippin long it'd be before I could start working on them. (pardon the rant)

A few weeks ago I was at the Holy Cow Boutique (shouldn't that be Moo-tique?) and there was a vendor selling cute lil clips like these. The idea isn't unique, I've seem them popping up everywhere, but I wasn't too impressed with the ribbon selection of her clips so I bought a pair of the cutest ones and used them as the example for my own. These are a couple I made.

I think I've made about a dozen pair thus far and I love them because they hold my hair really well.

If anyone wants any, let me know. I'm charging $3 a pair (time, cost, etc.). I realize you can make your own for less than that, however it's worth the time you'll save. Believe me.

Happy Birthday, Ryan!

Ryan caught up with the rest of us 26 yr olds on Saturday (April 5th). It's always a fun time to invite people (mostly his family) over and a chance for me to bake a little.

Because our house was a mess and I wasn't feeling all too well, I came home from work a couple hours early to finish making the Tuxedo Brownie Cups and to make some salsa with the bunch of cilantro we had in the fridge from fajitas the week before.

Here's another appearance of the pretty Happy Birthday Banner I made last year. I think it's time for me to make a few different ones.

My parents were in town this past weekend for General Conference so they came over, too. It was a good night and I hope Ryan thinks so, too.


I have a few projects to share. I've been working with wool felt a ton lately and created these for springtime projects. The nice thing about felt, and particularly wool felt (there's a HUGE difference), is that you can be a little more tough with it and pull and push. It's a good thing. If it weren't so expensive, I'd use it more.

The carrots contain little bells that do more rattling than jingling, but oh well, they're still really cute. These pictures don't show how really cute they are.

Then I made a tiny strawberry. Initially I thought I'd use it as a pin cushion, but we'll see.

After the tiny strawberry, I attempted this huge one. I wish I could have gotten better pictures of it. I'll admit it took WAY longer than I wished it did (about 9 hours total) and I gave it away but now I'm wanting it back(!) - it was totally a labor of love that I think only I can appreciate.

I forgot to take pictures of my little dishtowel embroideries. THEY took a long time. Lots of french knots. LOTS. I'll update with a picture later.


Since we don't have any kiddos yet, our holidays seem to be a bit low-key. This year for Easter, Ryan worked in the morning and we headed up to his parents' house in South Jordan for Easter dinner and QT (quality time).

I got up earlier than usual on Sunday morning (I'll admit, I sleep in until 10:30 or so) and made butter cookies. They're like sugar cookies, but you don't have to wait for the dough to chill before baking. Makes the process go all the faster.

I made eggs and carrots, however I never got around to decorating the eggs.

These are the carrots. I think there were close to 3 dozen.

I used a simple powdered sugar icing recipe and used the piping method and then flooded the cookies. I haven't quite mastered the process, but I'm getting much better.

These are some of the naked cookies and others I just started icing.

Carrots waiting for their greens



They were so darn cute and I must add how deliciously soft they were. That icing really seals in some moistness.