Friday, December 27, 2013

Gift Reveal!

It's hard to believe that Christmas has already come and gone! I started making gifts back in October and was still frantically hooking up a storm until Christmas Eve. Since [almost] everyone has received his or her gifts, I wanted to share them with you! I tend to be overly ambitious when I dream of things I'm going to make people and it usually takes twice as long as I imagine it will take me. Because of this, I wasn't able to get one of my gifts done in time to be given, but it is done now. I'll share that one in the future. Until then, here's a look at all of my gifts handmade with love.

Above you'll see a picture of some fake cupcake ornaments BJ and I made for advent one night. Speaking of Advent, after the first couple of weeks, everything seemed to have gone downhill and the event planned for the day got put off or just disregarded altogether. This was one such project, but it was something that I had planned on doing since Thanksgiving, so it had to get done. I used this tutorial to make them. I made the little silver candies out of beads spray painted with metallic silver, which I had on hand. The cherries and candy canes are made of polymer clay. I used Martha Stewart cupcake liners. If you plan on doing this, I suggest trying to find liners that have foil on the inside because they keep their shape much better than plain paper ones. BJ didn't believe that the expansion foam would expand so he filled them much more than halfway full. Well, they did expand, just like the instructions said... I wasn't surprised. We had to cut the tops off of most of them, but the "frosting" covered it anyway. I gave one each to my sister, mom, and dear friend, Miira. Since Valentine's Day and my birthday fall in February, I'm going to use them as decorations then as well because I used colors that work for both holidays. Talk about a bang for your buck!

This is off the topic of gifts, but this year was the last Holidazzle parade in Minneapolis. I had never gone in the 21 years it has been put on and decided it needed to be added to our Advent calendar. The I Love Lucy Christmas special was airing on CBS the night that we had planned on going. We went the next night instead, the final ever. Boy was it crowded. It was warmer than I had expected, but I went super bundled up. Everyone's body heat actually seemed to warm the outdoor space. I had a guy and his small child behind me. He was either talking on his phone- giving a play by play to his wife watching from somewhere else, complaining about how cold he was, complaining about is it over yet, how he couldn't see anything, or yelling at his kid to lean back on his shoulders because he was making his neck hurt (most frequent complaint.) He got there a few minutes after the parade was supposed to have started so, complaining about your spot is hardly valid and if you have been in this state for any amount of time this winter, then you should know the weather conditions. At one point he began elbowing me every time his son moved. After it was over, BJ thought it would be faster to take the street instead of the skyway that we came in on. We got lost and walked several miles in the cold before we could finally find an entrance to the skyway and got lost some more... I will always remember my first and only Holidazzle. By the way, I have no idea how my collage became twinkly. Strange.

Back on track, the first gifts I made this year were for my mom and sister. When I went down to visit during our Thriftcation, my sister had mentioned to me that she would like fingerless gloves. Since she also likes coffee, I made her a travel mug cozy. I made a mug cozy and boot cuffs for my mom. She happens to collect Coke things and especially likes the Santa stuff. When I saw an original 1956 ad at Urban Cottage, I was really excited to pick it up! There was a little shmutz on it, but was in great shape other than that. 

Urban Cottage had their final sale of the year last weekend and you know I had to go see what holiday goodies I could find on sale! I scored pretty big on ornaments. The striped and swirly ornaments are Shiny Brite, the tear drop one is marked Germany, and the quadruple reflector is marked Made in US of A. I also found vintage candle holder clips that I had actually been telling BJ I wanted to find for a project I have in mind. I guess you'll have to wait until next year to find out what they will become! The little snow capped ornament below is also Shiny Brite. BJ spotted pins in the checkout counter when we were being rung up and wanted to get me one. I picked this adorable Mr. + Mrs. Frosty one. If you also love pins/brooches, you should read Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box by Madeleine Albright.

The next gifts I made were for my youngest nephew. I've been told he likes Buzz Lightyear so I thought hooking up a Lil' Buzz and a Toy Story alien would be fun. How lucky that I happened to have a rocket ship cup for a photo shoot!

Next up were scarves. I made BJ a sushi scarf from Son of a Stitch 'n Bitch and my oldest nephew a pizza scarf from Twinkie Chan's Crochet Goodies for Fashion Foodies. When I was cleaning out my craft closet, I found a huge take out box and thought it would be perfect packaging. We keep our Galactic Pizza boxes to use for coupons, so I used one to wrap up the pizza!

BJ has been drinking a lot of tea lately, and he loves TMNT. When I saw this pattern, it was a done deal.

BJ got a hat also from Son of a Stitch 'n Bitch. I made Annabelle a doe rat toy from a downloadable pattern on Ravelry. It is one continuous piece of yarn, nothing to sew on- so cool!

This is a terrible picture, I'm sorry about this. The wallet is now in use, so I don't want to hassle BJ to take everything out so I can photograph it better. :/ This one I did without a pattern. I made him one for our anniversary a couple of years ago and thought it was time for a new one. This time I didn't put in the ID window and just did more card pockets instead. I cut out a silhouette of the Minneapolis skyline that I made for my "Get Lifted" Society6 project and stenciled it onto the exterior of the wallet.

For my dear friend, Agent I, I made an amigurumi Totoro. This pattern can also be found on Ravelry as a free download. He introduced me to Studio Ghibli films. When I found this pattern, he was the first person I thought of!

I made a last minute scarf for one of BJ's aunts. That's the project I was still working on Christmas Eve day. It was a race to the finish, but everything got done on time.

In between, when I thought I had time to crochet at my leisure, I made a panda ornament. On the way down to Redwood, I started a polar bear and finished it off yesterday afternoon to unwind from the hectic holiday.

As for the gifts that I received this year, I got many of the things I had hoped for. Most of my wishlist included kitchen items- I think almost all of them were addressed to both of us, but let's be realistic about who's going to be using them the most. We got a cast iron skillet, an immersion blender, a silicon baking mat, a teapot, and a vintage glass pitcher with diagonal teal stripes. BJ's mom surprised me with a vintage white cat butter dish!

BJ got me a few toys I've had my eye on and some other little things like a melting snowman from Lush. Our Christmas was sort of low-key since Annabelle's bladder infection was higher priority in the budget. I got the Tia Mowry yoga DVDs from my sister. I think I'll crochet some special socks to use with the video! My oldest nephew, who is 14, surprised me with a Monster High Frankie Stein ragdoll/blanket combo. I'm not sure how he knew I would like it, but it was very thoughful! :)

Next up is New Year's and making resolutions. Last January, Leslie Sansone issued a 365 walk challenge. There's only five days left and I still have skipped one! I'm hoping that I can commit myself to new goals just as well as I did the walk goal. For 2014, my resolution is to be awesome everyday. By that I mean to stick to my guns, be productive, and push myself to be successful in my craft- because who's going to believe in you if you don't even believe in yourself?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Vegan Spanish Pinwheels

I've been meaning to post this since Saturday, but one thing led to another and I just never got around to it. The ugly sweater party didn't go as planned. BJ and I got to eat a lot more of the food than we had expected. Good thing for our taste buds, not so good for our waistlines. These pinwheels are addicting. You could try making your own cream cheese and sour cream. The recipe I have for your today uses the store bought kind to make it an easy-peasy recipe to throw together for a party. I baked a lot of cookies, so a quick and easy appetizer was so necessary!

This recipe originally came from one of my Spanish classes in high school. We had a project where we had to find a recipe using Spanish ingredients, type it up in Spanish and English, and make it for the class to taste. This was a standout recipe that I don't believe to be authentic at all, but who cares, it's delicious! (If you use Target Cartwheel, a few of the ingredients are currently on there. Yay saving!)

When I went vegan, this was one of the first recipes that I veganized for a small crafternoon that  I held. It is pretty straightforward- just replacing dairy ingredients with non-dairy ones. The only thing that stumped me was the ranch dressing mix because I couldn't find a packet one that didn't contain some form of animal. Cue Internet. I've tried a few different recipes from the Internet. Some of them are too garlicky and some too salty. The last one that I used worked for me. It's great because you make up a good sized batch of it and store it in a jar so it's ready to use the next time you need it.

Vegan Spanish Pinwheels


10 Flour Tortillas
8 oz vegan cream cheese, softened
1 (4 oz) can of green chiles
1 (4 oz) can of chopped black olives
1 (2 oz) jar of pimientos
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons ranch dressing mix

  • ¼ cup dried parsley
  • 4 teaspoons dried dill weed
  • 4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 4 teaspoons dried onion flakes
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper


1. Make up your ranch dressing mix by mixing all ingredients together and store in an airtight glass container.

2. Mix cream cheese, sour cream, olives, pimientos, chiles, cheddar cheese, and 2 teaspoons of ranch dressing mix together in a large bowl.

3. Spread thinly onto tortilla, covering completely.

4. Roll up tightly. Repeat until you have used all of the spread.

5. Chill at least one hour.

6. Slice into thin pinwheels- about 8 slices per roll.

Makes about 80 portions.

I must confess, I hate olives. They make me gag- so I omit this from my recipe, but I thought I'd include it because there are people who don't hate olives. Also, it tastes fine with or without the cheese as well. This time that I made it, I didn't have a whole cup of cheese on hand. I used up the rest of a block of Daiya jack.

So there you have it, a quick and easy crowd pleaser. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Countdown to Christmas

As we approach the home stretch of the Christmas season, I'm feeling pretty good about being able to finish all my presents. I only have a couple left! I haven't been good about posting the daily advent on Instagram. BJ has been working a lot of overtime and my phone has no ability to take pictures at night, not to mention that it has been gloomy (and extremely cold.) I've made up a few collages of what we've been up to this past week. 

Above you will see this year's "Christmas card." All the babies got in on the ugly sweater party action! Hamm is wearing a dog hat with the top cut off from Target. He's such a sweet little buffalo, I just want to squeeze his fluffy cheeks every time I see him. He is sniffing Annabelle because he loves to eat her fur (he did the same thing to Babie, they must have marshmallow flavored fur.) Annabelle only tried to bite him once during the photo session, so I'd say it was successful. Basil just wanted to get out of there and wasn't thrilled with costume changes. I believe she'll think all this business is worth it when she gets her cat cozy on Christmas!

I'm quite positive that my babies don't look at the Internet, so I think it's safe to show you what I've made up for them so far. Hammy and Basil are both getting cuddle caves. They were super easy to make and I had everything on hand. I found a bag of queen sized batting at the thrift store this summer for only $2 and the fabric I used for Hamm's was fabric I've had since one of my high school projects and a too-small cast off from his cage fleece that I picked up at the thrift store. Basil's was made of fleece I got from my mom's friend and a half yard that I bought at Jo-Ann's with no particular idea of how to use it. I'm going to make another one for Hammy that has some PLU between the outside fleece and the batting just so it doesn't absorb anything from the main fleece in his cage.

Also in the collage are close-ups of the fabrics I used to make the pillow cases from last post and pictures of the rest of the decorations around the apartment.

On day four of advent, BJ and I cut out some paper snowflakes. Day five, we watched the Sound of Music live. Did you watch it? I loved seeing Bill Compton as a different character, but I just kept expecting him to don a southern accent and say, "Sook-ay!" Don't get me started on True Blood. Anyway, on day six we drove around looking at Christmas lights. We decided to go to Summit Ave because last year the lights were pretty good. The governor's mansion last year was really pretty, this year was lame-o. Just blue multi-colored lights. The two houses across the street didn't disappoint though, as usual! 

Day seven, Saturday, we went to Holiday No Coast Craft-O-Rama at Midtown Global Market. I forgot to take any pictures of that. It's hard being broke at craft fairs. :( There were actually a bunch of fun things going on last weekend. We didn't get to the free Burlesque show like we had wanted, but we did go out to Roseville and visit the Kidrobot-esque store at the mall. Again, the brokeness... After that we went to a house in Shoreview that had a light show coordinated to their own radio station. It had a parking lot right across the street which was convenient. Someone else came to watch and didn't bother turning their car lights off. I recommend this house over the one in Chanhassen/Excelsior because of the parking and the fact that they aren't trying to sell you a religion. 

Day eight, we listened to the record I got on my tiny Winnie the Pooh record player. It wasn't made to play that sized record, so we could either listen to the chipmunk version, or a slower version. It was fun to take a step back in time and think about that being how people used to consume music. 

Day nine we made pomanders. BJ never made these in elementary school. Is this just a small town thing or did he miss out?

On day ten, we went to see Frozen with a free movie ticket from Disney Movie Rewards. The cashier was a nice young guy who hadn't seen the coupon before. He gave us free Olaf pins for the wait! YAY!!! I love pins and the movie was everything I was hoping it would be. Next on my must see list is Savings Mr. Banks, Walking with Dinosaurs, The Lego Movie (Feb 7), and I can't wait for the Boxtrolls in September!

We took the family photos on day eleven. BJ and I didn't get in on the action, although we have ugly sweaters. Day twelve, we watched Prep & Landing: Naughty vs Nice. That brings us to today, day thirteen. Friday the thirteenth! Today I am starting a mad baking spree including several types of cookies and a gingerbread house. Together, we are going to be making some fake cupcakes and watching the Santa Claws episode of Grimm! Thank Grimm it's Friday, but I am so sad that it is the fall season finale. 

Tomorrow I plan on making up some of the pinwheels I mentioned in an earlier post so that you can have the recipe! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


December is here already! My Thanksgiving was..."different" as we Minnesotans might call it. Black Friday didn't seem so busy this year. Since Annabelle's bladder infection spent any monies allotted for a shopping spree, we decided not to do much, but walked around the Mall of America after dinner since it was open. It was fairly busy, much like any normal Thursday night during the holiday rush. After that, we went to Target for a loaf of bread. It was around 10:30 so the store had already been open two and a half hours. We thought it would still be a madhouse, but the parking lot was pretty empty, much like any other Thursday night in Richfield. We made another trip the next afternoon because that's just what you do if you love Target. They had most all of their TVs, nooks, etc left. I just don't think the deals were really deals this year- or maybe I've just come to terms with the difference between wanting and needing and am able to let it go. That may be true with new things, but boy am I still needy for all things vintage.

Besides my midnight trip to Michaels (it was on the way home from Target and I had a coupon- why not?), I went to Flamingos for their Pink Friday sale. I found a terrifyingly cute tiny santa doll and a paper cut out of Santa in his sleigh. I also got another Shiny Brite reflector to try to replace the one that bit the dust. I decided to hang the broken one on my tree anyway... you can hardly tell! >_<

That brings us to December. Advent! Heidi Kenney and Amanda Krueger have a digital book called A Very Merry Advent on how to plan a fun advent. If you are familiar with Heidi Kenney, then you know she is the queen of holidays and probably want to be like her as much as I do. I got this and planned out BJ and my advent calendar. I still have the advent calendar I had as a child and hang it every year. It is actually one of my most treasured holiday items. I printed out a few pages of the vintage Pyrex gift tags and wrote out or planned activity for the day and stuck it in the little pockets.

For day one, we hung our solar lights outside- I'm not positive that one of them even works anymore. Normally, we are quite too lazy to even take them down, but this year, the balconies were painted and the crew took down my lights. Bleh, so we had to re-hang them and it has been way too cloudy and snowy for the little panels to absorb enough light to make them shine. They look nice during the day though...

Day two, we decided to play dreidel. I made it out of clay. Really, I did. I had the winning spin and won all the chocolate chips! 

Day three, we strung popcorn for the little birds outside. I haven't noticed anyone partaking in the festivities, though. 

Tonight is day four and the plan is to make paper snowflakes. Follow me on Instagram for continued coverage!

Amazingly, I got all my Christmas decorations up in one day, minus the night after Thanksgiving when I put up the big tree. The close-up ornament is my favorite that I talked about in an earlier post. The little tree is in the bedroom and it is actually the same tree I've used in my bedroom since high school! I have all of my favorite childhood ornaments on there which consist mostly of Disney and other unbreakables. I have two cats who think ornaments are toys, so the whole tree being that low to the ground, they have to be!

Yesterday, I finally made up envelope pillow cases for the season. I found the cutest vintage inspired snowmen patterned fabric. They're riding candy cane bicycles! Vintage Golden Book Frosty is probably one of my favorite winter images, this fabric is to die for. I also picked up a yard of a holiday shopping scene by Alexander Henry, but it was just a tad too small in every direction to make an envelope for the regular sized bed pillow, so I had to put in a zipper. Slightly frustrating, not entirely awesome looking at the top of the zipper, but nothing that I can't fix, or simply forget about! The other two fabrics are Jo-Ann's: one is vintage inspired string lights and the other an ugly sweater looking pattern. This place is shaping up to be ready for my ugly sweater party! Now I just need to find an ugly sweater for my gigantor Annabelle! I see a Target trip in my future.

Here's a little peak at some of my favorite things. The lighted snow globe and reindeer are from my childhood. One of the reindeer's antlers met the garbage disposal many moons ago. Hopefully the sun starts shining soon so I can take pictures of the rest of the place. I'm off to eat an Olive Garden inspired dinner while dreaming of my neighbors leaving before their eviction date.