Friday Favorites – Winter

I don’t think winter gets its due.  It gets all lumped in with Christmas, when really it’s only just getting started by the time the holidays are over.  If we’re going to get freezing weather where I live it’s much more likely to happen in January than before.  Dashing through the snow doesn’t involve reindeer or Santa.  So, I’m here to give winter the moment in the spotlight that it deserves.

Winter Crafts - Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites

I don’t know if I’m brave enough to let anyone actually use this Indoor Snowball Fight from Sew Can Do inside the house, but it’s so cute and fun I think I could be won over.

Indoor Snowball Fight Set from Sew Can Do

You could certainly use this Reading and Knitting Pillow from Sew Happy Geek any time of the year, but am I the only one that gets more reading and hand-crafts done when it’s too cold to go outside?

Reading and Knitting Pillow from Sew Happy Geek

Evenings find me under a blanket this time of year.  If I had this Family Blanket from Rae Gun Ramblings I could let someone under there with me.

Family Blanket from Rae Gun Ramblings

Has your family been struck down by The Bug yet?  My husband and I were both knocked flat by it before Thanksgiving and we’re still waiting for the cough to completely disappear.  I’m thinking these Homemade Vaporizing Shower Cubes from Smart School House would still be a good idea, even months later.

Homemade Vaporizing Shower Cubes from Smart Schoolhouse

This Get Well Soon Tissue Box Cover from So Sew Easy would be a great gift to take to a sick friend.  There’s a little pocket on the side to add some tea and cough drops. 

Tissue Box Cover from So Sew Easy

I love soup in the winter.  And I love pickles.  I’m intrigued by this Dill Pickle Soup from Noble Pig.  I’m going to have to make a small batch and try it out.

Dill Pickle Soup from Noble Pig

I feel about hot apple cider the way some people feel about coffee.  I love the smell, but the taste – nope.  However, this Apple Cider Hot Toddy from Cookie and Kate has me wanting to give it another chance.

Apple Cider Hot Toddy from Cookie and Kate

When I was a kid one of my cousins got married in the winter and the girls had faux fur muffs instead of bouquets.  I thought it was so pretty.  Apparently it’s a trend that has returned and Etsy seller sewudesigns has many to choose from.

Faux Fur Muff from sewudesigns on Etsy

Nothing is worse than trying to keep warm in January with a bitter chill blowing under your door.  Well, nothing except flattened Mickey.  This Wonderful World Draft Stopper from caitlinsdad on Instructables definitely requires a good sense of humor.

Wonderful World Draft Stopper from caitlinsdad on Instructables

One of my favorite things about winter is boots, but you can get tired of looking at the same pairs over and over all season.  Dress them up with these DIY Faux Fur Boot Sweaters from The Renegade Seamstress on eHow.

DIY Faux Fur Boot Sweaters from The Renegade Seamstress on eHow

Wedding Drink Stand and Flavored Syrups

I didn’t know there was a term for it until we got into the process of planning one, but my daughter and son-in-law had a dry wedding.  For those who haven’t heard that before, it just means we didn’t serve alcohol.  We still wanted the beverages to be fun and not boring though.  We decided on lemonade, iced tea and water, but with lots of options to mix in to take it up a notch.

Wedding Drink Stand and Flavored Syrups - Crafty Staci

It all started with the mason jar-style drink dispensers.  Codi fell in love with them early in the planning process, so everything was planned around them.  My husband built the stand from the same rustic cedar as the cupcake stands I showed you last week.  He planned it at the perfect height for the drinking jars to fit underneath the spouts.  I added the “Drink” with my new wood burning tool (which I LOVE).  Then I made paper signs with my Silhouette to hang above so guests could be sure what was in each jar.

Wedding Drink Stand Signs - Crafty Staci

We made sure there was plenty of fresh strawberries, blueberries, lemons and limes for those who wanted to drop a few into their glass.

Blueberries for Wedding Drinks - Crafty Staci

I also made a sign for guests who might not be sure what a normal syrup to liquid ratio would be.  We had to do a little taste testing first.

Instructions to make drinks - Crafty Staci

The big factor in making the drinks unique and customizable was the syrups.  I bought some of them, and made others.  I found chalkboard tape at the craft store, and instead of writing on it with chalk, which could easily rub off with so many people and all that liquid, I cut out vinyl letters and stuck them on.  It kept all the different bottles looking uniform.  I already had an old Coke crate that was perfect for holding them.

  Wedding Drink Syrups - Crafty Staci

With the giant mint patch out front, I had to make the mint syrup myself.  Nothing else made sense.  Codi also wanted lavender syrup, so we went with homemade on that one too.  I kinda thought she was crazy until I tried lemonade with lavender.  It was delicious! 

Mint Syrup

  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh mint leaves

Boil water and sugar until the sugar dissolves.  Pour over the mint.  Cover.  Let sit for 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature.  Strain.  Add food coloring if you’d like a brighter green.

Lavender Syrup

  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lavender buds

Simmer all ingredients until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes.  Strain.  Add food coloring if you’d like a lavender tint, as it comes out more of a light green.

I especially liked how this looked at the end of the dessert buffet.  Another thing I’m already looking for my next excuse to use!

Wedding Dessert and Drink Buffet - Crafty Staci

My thanks to Heather Fitch Photography for allowing me to share some of her photos here!

Book Review: Cupcake Envy

I’m here today to a book review courtesy of Tuttle Publishing.  They have provided me with the book in exchange for this review, but the opinions are all my own.

I think the title of the book I’m reviewing today, Cupcake Envy, must be a play on words.  Before I opened it I thought it meant everyone would be envious of the cute cupcakes the reader would make from it.  After reading, I realized it actually seemed to mean that ordinary cupcakes would envy the amazing mini cakes found within the pages.  This book is eye candy, pure and simple, but doesn’t stop there.

Cupcake Envy - Book Review by Crafty Staci

The author, Amy Eilert, refers to these treats as cakelets.  They’re more than a cupcake but smaller than a regular cake.  She starts off the book with the charming story of how her business came to be, followed by a chapter laying out the pans, tools and ingredients you’ll want to consider using.  I thought the Tricks of the Trade section was nice for those of us who are novice cake decorators.  Who knew vodka was a handy decorating tool?

Cupcake Envy Book Review by Crafty Staci

There are basic recipes included for cake, icing and frosting, and then comes the fun part – decorating.  It starts off with some lovely, girl options.  My favorite was Playing Dress Up.  Each project has a difficulty rating in the upper right corner, and this one is Easy/Intermediate.

Playing Dress up from Cupcake Envy Book Review by Crafty Staci

The next chapter is all about edibles, like this sweet Cup ‘O Joe.  Wouldn’t this be perfect for Mother’s Day?

Cup O Joe from Cupcake Envy Book Review by Crafty Staci

A bag full of groceries?!?  I never would have guessed that would make such an adorable cake theme!

At the Market from Cupcake Envy Book Review by Crafty Staci

If you’re planning a baby shower this year, there’s an entire chapter that’s sure to impress friends and family.  If making desserts for a whole party is too intimidating, one sweet cakelet just for her is sure to be appreciated by a new mom.

The guys weren’t left out here, with a chapter to themselves, right down to the manly intro.

Macho Men Chapter from Cupcake Envy Book Review by Crafty Staci

This garden cakelet is one of my favorites, but how could anyone bring themselves to actually EAT this?  It’s just too pretty.

How Does Your Garden Grow from Cupcake Envy Book Review by Crafty Staci

I have to admit, they lost me a little in the Offbeat and Edgy chapter, but I’m probably not the target audience there.

There’s a handy section just following that though, full of ideas to use if you don’t have fondant available.  I realized as I reached the end that it has those ever-useful flip-outs on the front and back to use to hold your place.

Cupcake Envy Book Review from Crafty Staci

For me, getting fancy with my cake decorations means adding sprinkles on top of the frosting which, in truth, is probably to hide the crumbs.  I’ve never even touched fondant.  However, after drooling over Cupcake Envy, I’m inspired.  I really want to give these little cakelets a try!

Creamy Red Hot Dipping Sauce

With New Year’s Eve parties planned for this week, I thought this would be the perfect time to share my new favorite dip recipe.  I originally made this as a dipping sauce for meatballs, but we’ve tried it on just about everything.  It’s a great sandwich spread.  It makes Sauerkraut Balls even better.  I’ve even eaten it just spread on a cracker.  Besides all that, I find its orange color kind of festive.

Creamy Red Hot Dip by Crafty Staci

Creamy Red Hot Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup sour cream

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons minced parsley

Creamy Red Hot Dipping Sauce Ingredients

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Mix with a mixer or stir until completely blended.  This is even better after it sits in the fridge for a few hours.  If it’s too thick for your taste, just blend in a little milk or cream.

I called this “Red Hot” because of the pepper sauce, and it is spicy, but not in a crazy way.  I can’t wait to try this on a burger, or as dip for chicken tenders, or with french fries, or veggies…

Creamy Red Hot Dipping Sauce from Crafty Staci

Friday Favorites–New Year’s Eve

I’m floored by the fact that we’re about to flip our calendars over to 2015.  I mean, didn’t the 90’s JUST happen?  I remember crossing our fingers on December 31, 1999 and hoping that our giant, dial-up computer would still work when we got up the next morning.  Just so I don’t leave you in suspense, it did – it just reset to 1980.  No one around here is looking to turn back the clock this year though.  We had a lot of big adventures in 2014 and we’re anxious to see what 2015 has to offer.  Our first goal is to stay awake long enough to greet the new year.

New Year's Eve - Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites

I don’t remember ever attending a New Year’s Eve party that required a dress.  We tend to celebrate a little more casually around here.  However, you never know what the future may hold, so I’m keeping this Party Dress DIY from Mark Montano in my file.

Party Dress DIY from Mark Montano

I tried to do a time capsule with my kids on the above mentioned New Year’s Eve of 1999.  I made up the sheets to fill out and put everything in a box – but never filled anything out.  At least, I don’t remember doing it.  I might get a big surprise one of these years.  Anyway, don’t be me – make this make this New Year’s Time Capsule from The Imagination Tree with your kids.  And remember where you put it.

New Year's Time Capsule for Kids from The Imagination Tree

Monsieur and Madame Champagne from Squirrel Picnic would be adorable on your New Year’s Eve buffet.  And no headache the next day!

Monsieur and Madame Champagne Crochet Pattern from Squirrel Picnic

I love little snacky food for New Year’s Eve, especially desserts.  These Hot Cocoa Mug Mini Desserts from Bird’s Party would be fun and leave you with room to sample other goodies.

Hot Cocoa Mug Mini Desserts from Birds Party

Whether we like it or not, the new year is when many of us start thinking about making some healthy changes to our eating habits.  These Salted Chocolate Dipped Mandarin Slices from Etc might be a good bridge to get there.

Salted Chocolate Dipped Mandarin Slices from Etc

And how beautiful would a plate be filled with those oranges and these Cherries Dipped in White Chocolate from Simple Provisions?

Cherries Dipped in White Chocolate from Simple Provisions

What’s a party without chips and dip?  Check out the festive way that Caramel Potatoes came up with to serve them.

If you have little ones, sometimes it’s tough keeping them entertained when they’re sugared up and they have that second wind because it’s WAY past their bedtime.  Consider helping them make these New Year Wishing Wands from Baby Centre – maybe before the party starts.

New Year Wishing Wand from Baby Centre

Another fun kid-idea is this Memory Scavenger Hunt from No Time for Flash Cards.  I kinda want to do this myself.  Maybe I can get my husband to hide them for me.

Photo Memory Scavenger Hunt from No Time for Flash Cards

If you’d like to send your guests home with a little something after the party, make some of these New Year Boxes from Mein Lila Park

New Year Box from Mein Lila Park

I don’t ordinarily link from my round-up here to another round-up, but B Lovely Events has so many great ideas for a Neon Glow in the Dark Party that I couldn’t resist.  This was compiled for a Sweet 16, but wouldn’t this be an amazing New Year’s Eve party?

Neon Glow in the Dark Party from B Lovely Events

Bacon Toffee Potato Chip Cookies

I spent the entire day cooking last Saturday.  Homemade salted caramels, No-Bake Biscoff Balls, peanut butter cup and truffle cookies and gluten-free lemon bars are all piled in abundance in my kitchen.  Even after a family Christmas party and making a plate for my husband to take to work at the police department, there’s still plenty of sugar.   And this year though, I added some sweet, salty, bacony goodness.

Bacon Toffee Potato Chip Cookies by Crafty Staci

It was time for something new and different.  I decided to really go for it, and my Bacon Toffee Potato Chip Cookies were born.

Bacon Toffee Potato Chip Cookies

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 package Heath bar bits (with chocolate)

6 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1 1/2 cup crushed, ridged potato chips

Bacon Toffee Potato Chip Cookies - ingredients

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cream together the butter and sugars.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.  Add the flour and baking soda and stir until combined.  Stir in the Heath bits, bacon and potato chips.

Bacon Toffee Potato Chip Cookie dough

Drop by spoon onto an ungreased baking sheet 2” apart.  Bake about 8 minutes, or until the edges start to brown.  Cool.

You could also make these bar-style by pressing the dough into an ungreased jelly roll pan, baking for 15 – 20 minutes and cutting into bars.

Makes about 7 dozen 2 1/2” cookies.

Bacon Toffee Potato Chip Cookies on Crafty Staci

The bacon flavor is pretty subtle in these, which is what I wanted.  If you want it to be more apparent by all means, add more bacon.  You could also go with half the package of toffee, which will make the other flavors stand out more.  You really just can’t go wrong here.  I mean, come on – bacon.

Bacon Wrapped Turducken Roast Review

This Bacon Wrapped Turducken Roast was provided by Echelon Foods in exchange for this review.  All opinions are my own.

I know from the recipes I’ve shared here it looks a little like my family survives on sugar and snacks.  Cookies are my kryptonite, but we eat normal food too.  Sometimes we even get a little adventurous with it, which is why we recently had our first taste of Turducken, courtesy of Echelon Foods.

Turducken Review - Crafty Staci 1

If you’ve never heard of Turducken, let me fill you in.  The name is a composite of the different birds used in preparing it – turkey, duck and chicken.  The way I understood it was done was that the chicken was stuffed inside the duck, which was then stuffed into the turkey.  While that is one method, thankfully the one we received was a little different.  From the Echelon Foods website:

“These turducken roasts are composed of turkey breast that is wrapped in bacon and layered with boneless, skinless chicken breast meat, boneless, skinless duck breast meat, more bacon inside and stuffed with an Italian sausage mixture.”

No bones, some of each kind of meat in each slice, dressing inside and wrapped in bacon.  Bacon.  We were so in.

The turducken arrived frozen, wrapped well in a styrofoam cooler and surrounded by dry ice.

Turducken Review - Crafty Staci 2

We decided this was the sort of thing that should be shared, so we invited a couple of our friends over to join us.  I was at a fabric shop teaching a class that day, so my husband was in charge of cooking.  He went with the low and slow cooking method for the roast, so you can imagine how my house smelled when I walked in.  He also made homemade cheesy bread rolls and oven roasted potatoes and squash.  Sorry ladies, he’s all mine.

The roast said it would easily serve 10.  I was skeptical, but they’re absolutely right.  There were four of us, and we had more than half of it left over.  I have to say, I’m not normally a fan of duck, but this was delicious.  Three out of the four of us liked it, with the holdout being the guy who spent the day cooking it.  He thought is was okay.  Our friends said it would be a great addition to a Superbowl party or other special event. 

Turducken Review - Crafty Staci 3

The turducken is definitely on the spendy side.  It’s not something you’d have for Tuesday night dinner though, but at a time when you’d splurge on a special item anyway.  Our cook thought the directions could have been more clear.  He wasn’t sure whether to cover it or not, but cooking it for the first hour covered, then the rest uncovered, seemed to work out fine.  It was a little difficult to slice because the different meats wanted to fall apart.  However, we all tried each kind of meat and a bit of dressing.  I wish we would have thought to make some gravy from the drippings in the pan.  I’m sure it would have been fantastic.

Turducken Review - Crafty Staci 4

This was definitely a little out of the norm for us, but my thanks to Echelon Foods for letting us try something new, unique and tasty!

Friday Favorites–Gifts for Guys

I’ve been writing Friday Favorites for years now, and some of my most popular collections are the Gifts for Guys.  Take a spin in the Way Back machine to see the 2011, 2012 and 2013 versions.  See, guys aren’t that tough to make stuff for!

Gifts to Make for Guys - Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites

Make a hanging rack from hammers for your guy, like this one from The Family Handyman.  Just make sure you don’t use the good tools – maybe old hammers with broken handles.

Hammer Hanger from Family Handyman

There are all kinds of fun games to be played with these Wood Dice from The 36th Avenue.

Wood Dice from The 36th Avenue

I can only imagine how fantastic this Rosemary Mint Shaving Cream from Food for my Family smells.

Rosemary Mint Shaving Cream from Food for my Family

Add to that these Burly Man Shaving Towels from Sew Mama Sew for a fun shaving set.

Burly Man Shaving Towels from Sew Mama Sew

My favorite thing about this Dad’s T-shirt from She Knows is that little established year.  It’s a cute touch.

Daddy T-Shirt from She Knows

It would be nice to have a couple of these Rough-Cut Lumber Beer Flight Sets from ManMade around for beer tasting with friends.

Custom Rough Cut Lumber Beer Flight Set from Man Made DIY

If you want to expand that beer theme, try this Beer Soap from Suzy Homefaker.

Beer Soap from Suzy Homefaker

No matter how hard we try, we always seem to have several remote controls around.  Keep yours confined to one place with this Remote Control Pillow from Make it Handmade.

Remote Control Pillow from Make It Handmade

Bags don’t get much more manly than this Canvas Bucket Tote from Sew 4 Home.  Unless you rub some dirt on it.

Canvas Bucket Tote from Sew 4 Home

Cashew are delicious, and bacon is bacon, so what guy wouldn’t love this Cashew Bacon Brittle from Taste and Tell?

Cashew Bacon Brittle from Taste and Tell

Friday Favorites–Thanksgiving

Okay, I swear it was just Halloween.  How did we get to Thanksgiving already?  I suppose next I’ll turn around and Christmas will be here.  I don’t want to get ahead of myself though – let’s take a little time to give this holiday its due.  Otherwise, I’ve got a 20 pound turkey in my fridge that I’ll need a new excuse to cook.

Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites - Thanksgiving

Speaking of turkeys, and it doesn’t seem like you can avoid it when it comes to Thanksgiving crafts, I think this Little Turkey No-Sew Thanksgiving Onesie from Creative Ramblings is adorable. 

Little Turkey Thanksgiving Onesie from Creative Ramblings

Something about Thanksgiving particularly brings out the toilet paper roll projects.  These TP Tube Turkeys from A Girl and a Boy would be fun to make with the kids.

Thanksgiving TP Tube Turkeys from A Girl and A Boy

This recipe for Turkey and Stuffing Turnovers from A Family Feast is more day-after fare, but definitely sounds worth the wait.

Turkey and Stuffing Turnovers from A Family Feast

I’ve never seen Corn Husk Pom Poms, like these from Centsational Girl, but wouldn’t these be great Thanksgiving decorations?

Corn Husk Pom Pom from Centsational Girl

These sweet, printable Thanksgiving Utensil Holders from Craftaholics Anonymous are easy to make and would be a nice addition to the table.

Thanksgiving Printables from Craftaholics Anonymous

These Turkey Rod Pretzel Treats from Sugar Aunts (great blog name!) look fun to make and eat.

Turkey Pretzels from Sugar Aunts

The New York Times shared a collection of Thanksgiving Recipes representing each of the 50 states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico, which is beautifully done and fun to read.  Pictured below is Cranberry Sauce with Pinot Noir from my home state of Oregon.  Thanks to Craft Gossip for the heads up on this one!

Thanksgiving Recipes Across the United States from The New York Times

These Printable Thanksgiving Placemats from Cheryl Style are just genius.

Printable Thanksgiving Placemats from Cheryl Style

Oh, you need some crayons for your placemat?  Just add these DIY Crayon Turkeys from Paging Supermom.

DIY Crayon Turkeys from Paging Supermom

This Kraft Paper Table Runner from Dawn Nicole is so simple, but the little bit of black calligraphy makes it look elegant.

Kraft Paper Table Runner from  Dawn Nicole

Friday Favorites–Halloween Party Food

Happy Halloween!  Since I’m still frantically trying to get ready for Siren Nation this weekend, I hope you don’t mind if I keep this short and sweet.  Enjoy!

Halloween Party Food - Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites

Dracula’s Dentures from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Dracula's Dentures from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Brains in a Jar Cake from Living Locurto

Brains in a Jar Cake from Living Locurto

Thai Spiced Deviled Eggs from Foodista

Thai Spiced Deviled Eggs

Halloween Eyeball Punch from Happiness is Homemade

Eyeball Punch from Happiness is Homemade

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats from Essentially Eclectic

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats from Essentially Eclectic

Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats from Cincy Shopper – Combine this recipe and that last one – pumpkin flavored, pumpkin shaped rice krispie treats!

Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats from Cincy Shopper

Homemade Candy Corn from Hoosier Homemade

Homemade Candy Corn from Hoosier Homemade

Candy Corn Pudding Pops from No. 2 Pencil

Candy Corn Pudding Pops - Number 2 Pencil

Halloween Pretzel Spider Web Treats from One Little Project at a Time

Halloween Pretzel Spider Web Treats from One Little Project

Sugar and Spice Roasted Pumpkin Seeds from The Baking Beauties

Sugar and Spice Roasted Pumpkin Seeds from The Baking Beauties

Have a safe and happy Halloween tonight!