Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yarn-Wrapped Monogram (crochet version)

Oh, Pinterest, how I love you and your plethora of ideas.  I finally joined after I turned in my last final (my bribe for focusing one last time on schoolwork!) and it's been hours of idea-gathering.  As you can see from the number of recent blog posts I've had some extra time on my hands and I've apparently been making up for lost time by trying out all these new ideas.  In this post I'll share with you how I tweaked the yarn-wrapped letters I saw here. 

Yarn-wrapped letters are nothing new.  I first noticed them in Austin when I walked down South Congress (my favorite part of the city!).  There's a cute little coffee shack called Jo's--clever, I know-- that has letters on their sign wrapped in sweaters!

I bought a paper-mache letter A at Joann's and started to wrap it in yarn until I got the idea to go one better.  Inspired by the sign in Austin I decided to make a crocheted monogram.  You'll need these supplies plus a hot glue gun:

That's a huge amount of crocheted chain.  You'll need a lot before you get started.  I guess the easiest way to walk you through this is to let my pictures do the talking.  Just remember to glue where you need to and make one side the "pretty side."  Also, don't forget about the top, bottom, and the weird nooks and crannies specific to your monogram.

(Hey!  These two are a very important part of the crafting process!)

The finished product!  The light spots aren't so bold in person but I like that they provide some contrast so you can see through the stitches that this is crocheted.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Super Mario Mushroom Cupcakes

No, those aren't "Super Mario Mushroom-Flavored Cupcakes" (thank goodness!).  I made these for the birthday celebration of Adam's best friend Devlin.  Devlin turned 30 today and decided to celebrate by going back to his gaming roots.  His quest took him from the original Nintendo through Super Nintendo up through Sega Genesis, which is where he's currently playing before he moves a little further into the 1990's.  As he played this morning he mentioned to his wife, Laura, that it would be cool to have cupcakes that looked like the little mushroom in the Mario series.  She passed this idea along to me and the mushroom cupcakes were started.

To be fair, I Googled "Mario Mushroom Cupcake" to get an idea of how to proceed and got some good visual aids.  I wanted to make both the red and green mushrooms (since the 1-Up mushroom is the greatest of them all) and could have *sworn* I'd seen green and red tubs of frosting in the stores in the Christmas baking displays.  I have the hardest time coloring icing to be really dark, bold colors and wanted to cheat with something that was already colored for me, especially with my time crunch.  Instead I found cherry-flavored icing (pink) and Christmas sprinkle icing (light green) so I made those darker instead of starting from scratch.  I used a boxed mix that appeared to be really nice but instead turned out really flat.  The cupcakes were probably the lightest and fluffiest I've made but I really needed something that would puff up!  Eh, at least they tasted good and looked cute.

Their eyes are made from chocolate squares that I melted down and piped on.  The white circles on top are Wilton's candy melts (in their unmelted form), which just so happened to be part of a recent Christmas gift from Garrett and Amanda (thanks guys!).  After packing up the cupcakes (and maybe sampling a little along the way) I saved one to put in another of my Christmas gifts:  a single-serving cupcake display from one of my coworkers, Amanda.  So pretty and whimsical all in one!
We're still waiting to see if anything happens if you eat the cupcakes.  If I see anyone gain an extra life or suddenly double in size I'll let you know.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sausage Bread

What starts like this

 and ends up like this?

Sausage Bread!

I needed a dish for our department Christmas party today.  I also needed to make some room in my freezer.  Figuring everyone would jump on "desserts" and "sides" I signed up under the "bread" category.  It's a pretty simple bread since the good folks at Bridgeford do all the hard work.  Add this recipe to your file and pull it out if you have a day's notice that you need to bring some bread to some event.  It also makes a delicious breakfast when you heat up a slice!

Sausage Bread
-1 package of Bridgeford frozen bread (or any equivalent that is about 9-12 inches long)
-1 package of ground sausage
-1 cup of Parmesan cheese

Follow package directions for thawing the bread loaf (just one of them).  Once it's thawed you'll need to let it rise (3-6 hours according to the package).  When the bread is nice and expanded preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cook the sausage on the stovetop until done.  Drain any grease.  Take a cookie sheet and line it with foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray (Pam).  Put your bread loaf on the pan and flatten it out until it makes a long rectangle.  Pour the ground sausage down the middle of the rectangle, and repeat with the cheese.  Using water to seal the edges, fold one side of the rectangle over to the other side, trapping the meat and cheese in the bread "tube."  (I think it helps to twist and tuck it under, essentially flipping the entire thing over so nothing falls out.)  It kinda stretches as you do this so it starts to make a "U" shape.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30ish minutes and try not to eat it, even though you may really want some.


Monday, December 5, 2011

One of my favorite Christmas traditions

Every year I like to grab a few stars off of the Meals on Wheels tree at Texas Wesleyan. 

Local seniors get to request things like mittens, calendars, and even food for their dogs.  When we were on campus a few weeks ago taking graduation pictures Kayla and I stopped by the tree so I could choose this year's adoptees.  I chose one who wanted a magnifying glass and another who wanted socks.  Then Kayla spotted the perfect one and handed it to me:  a lady named Adrienne wanted a scarf.  Since she had such as awesome name I made her one myself.

If you're ever over in the neighborhood of TWU at Christmas you should participate in this great program.  You can also check your local senior center or retirement home--they tend to have trees like this, too.  While it's always a good time to help someone in need, you may just be able to give someone the only Christmas gift they'll receive this year.