Monday, November 19, 2012

Star Elf Ornament

Posted by Paulette

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is making handmade ornaments. I usually have one design that I make. I whip up a few dozen and use them for package toppers or quickie gifts. This year I was invited to two ornament exchanges. 
The second one required that they be mailed, so I needed something quick, light, and non-fragile. 
I whipped these up in a couple of hours while waiting for a couple of laundry loads to finish. 

I started with a pattern:
   Cut out the star and trace with a pencil onto doubled fabric, right sides together.

 Then sew, leaving open where marked.
 Cut around star, leaving a 1/8th inch seam allowance. Carefully clip inside curves. Turn right sides out.
 Trace face onto freezer paper. You'll need one for each elf you make. Cut out the face. You'll be using this as a stencil. Iron, shiny side down onto the star, with an iron on medium high setting.

Next comes the tricky part. You'll need to paint several layers of the face color on, making sure that the paint dries between each layer. The paint will need to be sort of dry brushed on, so that it doesn't bleed through to the next layer of fabric. I brushed on 6 layers of paint before adding the features. When paint dried, I stuffed each star and sewed the hole closed with a ladder stitch.

 Then comes the fun part,  the face! I used the back of the paint brush to make white, then blue, then black and finally white, for the eyes. The nose is a simple red dot with a smaller white on on top. The cheeks are dry brushed, and the mouth and eyebrows are carefully painted on using a script liner. It could be done with a sharpie. 

Did I say that was the fun part? I was wrong. This really is the fun part. Embellishment!
Don't forget to add a hanger.

This is where a hot glue gun and lots of ribbons and trims come in handy.

You could even paint on little ears and give them beards. It's all up to you!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Cream Cheese Centers

Posted by Paulette

A few years ago my sister come home raving about Starbucks Pumpkin muffins. The best part was the surprise middles. They were cream cheese frosting centers. She asked me if I could duplicate the recipe. I tried and wasn't quite as successful as I would have liked.
 Years later, I've tried again, and have added gluten free to the challenge. Imagine my surprise when I bit into them, and I'm not kidding, closed my eyes and moaned with ecstasy!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice 
Muffins with Cream Cheese Centers 
Makes 15 muffins

Cream Cheese balls:
1-8 oz package cream cheese 
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar + 1/2 cup for dusting

Combine cream cheese and confectioner's sugar in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
In a smaller bowl, place 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar.
Using a spoon, scoop out about 1 1/2 table spoons of the cheese, and roll it between your hands making a ball. Place into the sugar and coat.
Place onto a cookie sheet. Repeat, until all the cheese has been made into balls. Place into the freezer to rest.

Muffin Batter:

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Wisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl and wisk together. 
Pour the wet ingredients into the larger bowl and stir together for about 1 minute.
Prepare a muffin tin by lining it with paper liners or spray with    
 nonstick baking spray.
Spoon batter into pan, filling about half way.
Retrieve cream cheese balls from the freezer and place one into center of each batter. Place remaining batter onto top of cheese balls (about 1 table spoon.)
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Remove muffins to cooling rack and let cool 10 minutes.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gluten Free Apple Cranberry Muffins

Posted by Paulette

Gluten Free Apple Cranberry Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffins
Dry Ingredients: 
 1cup white rice flour1/2 cup glutenous rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large apple, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries  

Wet Ingredients
1/4 canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup soy milk  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and prepare muffin tins, either with paper liners or spray with a nonstick baking spray.

In a medium bowl,  Whisk together the first 6 ingredients. Fold in the apples and cranberries. 

In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients, and beat in the eggs. Pour into the wet ingredients and stir by hand for about a minute.

Spoon batter into muffin tins, about 2/3 full. I find that an old fashioned ice cream scoop works well for this. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes or until muffins are golden and spring back when touched.   

Remove from pan to a wire rack, and let cool.

These muffins were AMAZING! I doubled the recipe, for my family of 7, and there were no leftovers.  The recipe was adapted from the Blueberry Muffins recipe I found in the cookbook, Easy Gluten-Free Baking, by Elizabeth Barbone. 
I changed a few ingredients, but followed the basic recipe. I will be making these again. You couldn't tell that they were gluten free!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Want a Cuppa? Watercolor painting

Posted by Paulette

Commissioned piece:

Watercolor on watercolor paper

Watercolor has always been one of those mediums that reminds me to take things a little at a time. It's frustrating! And I think that there's a life lesson there. Water doesn't always do what you want it to. Sometimes you have to go back later and blend, and sometimes you have to enjoy the imperfections.

Some in progress pics:
Reference picture

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Holly Elf on the Shelf ~ A New Doll

Posted by, Paulette

I started this doll earlier this year, and ran out of oomph, until an artist friend of mine suggested an Elf on the Shelf doll challenge. I was going to start from scratch and the remembered the unfinished doll. I gave her some braids, resewed her ears, and repositioned her legs. And made her some clothes...of course. I am pleased as punch with how she turned out.
 This little girl isn't for sale. We'll be keeping her around. However if someone wanted their own Elf, I'd be happy to make them one!
 Holly is one of my wedding flowers, since I was married in December. We brought back Holly from my Grandfather-in-law's trees in Virginia, all the way back to New Mexico to add to the centerpieces at our reception. 
Good memories. 
Do you do the Elf on the Shelf tradition with your family? I've just learned about it, and look forward to telling my kids the story.