…my true love gave to me: a last-minute Christmas quickie!
(Get your minds out of the gutter…)
I’m not going to do a big, long how-to, but keep it simple: I used this tutorial to create some golden snitch chocolates for a friend’s stocking.
They came together really quickly; I had Discord open in the background while I worked (because apparently I keep glue at the computer desk), and it took less than 10 minutes to get all three made.
There’s no way these were getting back in the cellophane sleeve, so instead, I’ve tucked them into a little organza bag to go at the very top of his stocking, and hopefully keep the wings from getting crushed.
…my true love gave to me: a gift that’s very “hand”-y!
When I was little, my grandmother used to cut decorative hand towels in half and then crochet a topper on each half, complete with a loop for hanging. When she had a good stash built up, she’d bring them out at a family gathering and let us pick which one(s) we wanted. These were a serious staple of my childhood, and I can’t imagine a kitchen without one.
My own crochet skills are not as sophisticated as hers were, sadly, but when I saw this glorious fabric:
…I had the perfect plan for it.
I took a towel I had bought somewhere else (charity fundraiser?) and traced around its fabric topper to draft a pattern for myself. I found some plain red towels at the store that matched the red lettering pretty much perfectly. I cut each towel in half (width-wise, not lengthwise), folded each half in approximate thirds (lengthwise, not width-wise) to fit into the topper. Once they were fit in, I sewed the topper shut, et voilà.
The first time I tried making towels like this, I attached some Velcro unbranded hook-and-loop tape to make it easy to hang the towel from an oven handle or whatnot. Unfortunately, after repeated washings, the Velcro-like product lost its “stick” and the towel would fall to the floor at the slightest provocation, like some sort of kitchen-linen fainting goat.
Sooo…I worked through my dislike of sewing buttons and sewed on buttons. It honestly wasn’t as painful as I remember, and now these towels aren’t going anywhere until you decide they are.
My mom has laid claim to two of them; the rest will be tucked into various Christmas gifts as a fun little bonus. In fact, one has found its way to its new home already:
…my true love gave to me: ein Schal für Schnuckiputzi!
Last year, I cross-stitched Berlin as a Christmas gift for my friend of German descent, which felt like it took more or less forever. This year, I opted for something less ambitious but far more pragmatic: a double-layer fleece scarf, in the colours of the German flag, perfect for warding off the frigid Prairie air.
I used this tutorial, which I also used a few years back to make a scarf for my dad, so I already had a pretty good idea of what I was doing. (That never happens!) I found the fleece at a good price back in the summer when, ahem, the eventual recipient happened to be with me.
HIM: What are you going to do with the fleece?
ME: Oh, remember those Star Trek stockings I made? I want to make more. I’ve already got Spock blue at home.
Good excuse, right? Fast-forward to the cutting table.
OVERLY OBSERVANT FABRIC STORE EMPLOYEE: Looks like you’re making a German flag.
ME: Um, no. Star Trek stockings.
OVERLY OBSERVANT FABRIC STORE EMPLOYEE: So where’s the blue?
Much measuring, cutting, and sewing later, I had this:
My model is in the Witness Protection Program. 😉
Actually, I’m lucky I was able to take it off long enough to have her model it for me – it’s soooo warm and snuggly!
It’s nice and long, so he’ll be able to wrap it around and make sure he’s covered. Perfect for those early-morning waits for the bus!
…my true love gave to me: a Christmas fit for Elvis Presley!
Having once participated in the Sweat Shoppe Ornament Swap on Craftster, I knew immediately I was going to do it again. This year, I was a little more prepared, and had been lazily working on my ornaments throughout the year so that all I had to do once signups began was finish them off and name them.
Name them – sounds weird, doesn’t it? Last year I called my set Festive Foxes (a bit lame, but it was my first time out). This year, I wrestled with the name a bit. Fairisle Festivities? Scandinavian Season’s Greetings? Three-inch hoops that look vaguely like a knitted sweater? Suddenly, inspiration struck: Blue Christmas.
The patterns came from an issue of Cross Stitch Crazy I bought last year. I really liked the designs, but couldn’t imagine making them for myself or anyone I know – nobody I know really has that particular theme running through their holiday décor. The swap turned out to be the perfect outlet!
To stitch them, I cut one long strip of 14-count white aida fabric, eyeballed thirds, and kept moving my Q-Snap down as I went – then cut them apart when it was time to frame them. I took plain 3″ wooden hoops from Michaels (I stock up every time they have them in stock) and painted them with white acrylic paint, then sprayed them with an iridescent white glittery spray paint. I had some iridescent white cording on hand for the hanging loops, and I’m hoping that they catch the light on my recipients’ trees.
In a more “natural” habitat (no tree up yet, so I trekked to the furthest reaches of the back yard to the cedar tree I normally forget is there):
The one with the deer has made it to its new home, and the other two are currently in transit. Fingers crossed they arrive soon! I’ve already received two of the three I’m getting:
It says “Craftster Christmas 2019”, with some rows of lights stamped between the lettering. The flash photography doesn’t do it justice, but I was having short days/snowy weather lighting issues when they first arrived.
Seriously, how is this little guy so relaxed about Christmas prep? And where did the crafter find little star-shaped baking tins like that? I love the aesthetic of it!
I finally got my last one! It’s a simple wooden disk with an intricate series of dots and gemstones that don’t show as well in this picture.
…my true love gave to me: a whirlwind tour of Germany! (Cheaper than a plane ticket, and more fun than lost luggage and boorish seatmates.)
Yes, it’s January, but as far as I’m concerned it’s still the holiday season – so here’s the final installment of Craftmas 2018! Superstition says that whatever you’re doing as the clock strikes midnight on January 1 is a harbinger of what you’ll be doing that year. I was asleep at the time, but this is still pretty darned close…my way of starting off 2019 with a bang.
One of my nearest and dearest is of German descent, and when I saw “Pretty Little Berlin” by Satsuma Street, I knew I had to stitch it for him. He’s actually been there, albeit when there was still a wall down the centre, and this seemed like a fun way to document his travels.
This was such a fun stitch! The pattern didn’t include the city name – I charted that myself and added it in – but it did include a handy guide to the spots included in the piece, and I can now pick out, say, the Brandenburg Gate or the Television Tower (which I had previously thought of as only das große, spitze Gebäude) from a photograph. It’s always a good day if I can say I’ve learned something!
I framed it in a 9″ square shadowbox. I had originally contemplated painting the frame yellow to match the train and the Beetle, but I think the white offers a contemporary sleekness.
Because I’m kind of weird, I took pictures of my progress and turned them into a stop-motion video:
(Make sure your sound is on!)
The lucky recipient was really pleased with the finished product – and as for me, I’m just glad to be finished stitching it.
As always, thank you for looking, and for hanging out with me all year. Cheers to a great 2019! 🙂
…my true love gave to me: a pretty little Kokeshi!
I’ve long held a theory that, when it comes to gift-giving, the seemingly most random collection of items is immediately elevated if they share a common theme. You would normally never gift-wrap a package of microwave popcorn, but paired with a bag of Twizzlers and some jujubes, it becomes part of “A Night at the Movies”.
So what do a hand soap from Bath and Body Works, a scented candle, and some chocolates have in common? If one is Japanese cherry blossom-scented, one is Japanese plum-scented, and one is mandarin orange-flavoured, you’ve got the makings of Japan in a box. (Note: Yes, “mandarin” is typically associated with China, but Japan grows them, too. I looked it up.)
This was the cheaper-than-a-plane-ticket gift I decided on for my aunt, who used to travel quite a bit before she got married, had a kid, and basically stopped having fun of any kind. In fact, when I was really young, she had traveled to Japan and the Philippines, so this really seemed like an appropriate choice.
Years and years ago, Cross Stitcher magazine had featured a pattern for three Kokeshi dolls, to be stitched on red fabric which was then sewn onto a plain black tote bag as a decorative panel. The idea of having a finished stitched piece bouncing around unprotected, suffering the wear and tear that a tote bag typically will, seems like a waste of stitching. But there was nothing preventing me from choosing just one to stitch and finishing it in a slightly more conventional way.
I chose the green because her open-concept living room/kitchen area features green quite heavily. The frame was acquired for only a few dollars, but the glossy black compliments the design perfectly. And does that red fabric ever pop!
Who couldn’t use one of those in his or her repertoire, especially at this time of year? There’s so much to get done, and anything that doesn’t involve preheating, rolling, cutting, frosting, etc. can’t be all bad.
And so I present to you my recipe for Cuban Lunch. They’re based on a defunct chocolate bar (which was apparently resurrected earlier this year, but I haven’t seen it anywhere), and are a crowd-pleaser if ever I saw one. You can make a lot quickly, and they’re perfect for gift-giving or cookie trays. A few years ago, I gave little care packages to the management team at work, and within half an hour everyone had IM-ed me to say thank you – except for the men in the group, who IM-ed me to say thank you, and also that they had eaten all six in one shot.
What you need:
2 cups each of semi-sweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and butterscotch chips. If you buy these things in bulk and actually want to measure, great; I find that your standard 300g bags found in the baking aisle give you what you need
1 1/2 cups crushed ripple potato chips
1 1/2 cups chopped peanuts
Optional, but nice: a kind person to help you set out your mini cupcake liners, and to set out more when your hands are occupied by chocolate-coated utensils and you realize you’re getting way more of these from the recipe than you anticipated
Set out your mini cupcake liners. The recipe I found has a yield of 75, but whoever wrote it must have filled their liners fuller than I do. This may take some experimentation on your part, so keep a few extra nearby. Also, the tinfoil is not strictly necessary, but prevents you having to wash your cookie sheet when you drop chocolate on it – and you will drop chocolate on it.
Chop your peanuts and crush your ripple chips. I like to use a mini food processor for the chips, but if you have some holiday rage to work through, a sturdy Ziploc bag and a rolling pin make a wonderful substitute. Set them aside for now.
Put your 6 cups of baking chips in a microwave-safe bowl. I like to fold them all together to prevent weird pockets of one kind or another in the finished product, because I’m like that. Once you’re satisfied that your mixture is as homogeneous as it’s going to get, microwave it on high for 30-second bursts. After each round, take it out and stir it before putting it back in for another 30 seconds. Yes, this is a giant drag, but chocolate likes to hold its shape even when it’s at a melting point, so check and stir, every single time, until everything is completely melted. No one likes scorched chocolate.
Once the baking chips are completely melted, fold in your potato chips and peanuts. It can seem like a lot to integrate, but keep at ‘er. Your mixture should look something like this.
Spoon the mixture into those mini cupcake liners you so painstakingly peeled apart and placed on your cookie sheets. Once they’re all filled, they’ll need to set. They will set up at room temperature, but some time in the fridge or freezer helps immensely. If you live somewhere cold, use nature’s freezer! (Just make sure you don’t have any neighbourhood wildlife creeping around.)
These can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature or in the fridge, and look so cute in a little cellophane treat bag tied up with a bow.