Dec 8, 2014

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

I started my Christmas baking this weekend. A simple recipe to ease into the baking mode. This recipe takes just a few ingredients and you'll have the cookies cooling on the counter in no time.

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies (makes 45 cookies)

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter (softened)
2/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
raspberry (or other fruit) jam

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl mix the flour and salt. Set aside. In a larger bowl, cream the butter and sugar until completely combined and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, and mix again.

Use a tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop up batter and roll it into a ball between your palms, placing it on a greased or parchment covered cookie sheet. Gently press your thumb or finger into the center of each ball, creating a well. The edges of the cookie may crack, but that's okay.

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, then pull them out of the oven.

Spoon your jelly or jam into each well, being careful not to overfill them.  I put a little dab of peanut butter in a few of them first and then added jam, just for fun. You could also fill them with chocolate, icing, or even candy. I'm thinking of trying out Cookinotti (Biscoff) spread.

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Put the cookies back in the oven and bake until the are slightly brown around the edges - about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

This recipe takes no time at all, but if you were in an even bigger hurry you could use pre-made cookie dough (sugar cookie, maybe?) and be done in a flash.

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies





Dec 5, 2014

Embroidery Hoop Snowman


I had a little fun this week, playing around with crafts and getting into the Christmas spirit. I've been wanting to make this snowman door hanging for a couple of years. I always thought I'd find embroidery hoops at the thrift store but never did. When I was at the fabric store buying material for the receiving blankets, I wandered over to the embroidery area and was surprised at how inexpensive the hoops were. I think it cost about $7 for all three. All of the other materials came from scraps I already had.
Embroidery Hoop Snowman Door Hanging

The first thing I did was paint each of the hoops white. I covered all of the outside, the front, and most of the inside. (Don't skip painting the inside - I didn't do a very good job the first time and had to take the snowman apart when I found you could still see bare wood along the inside edges.)

I used leftover white flannel from the receiving blankets for the head and body of the snowman. You just need to place a hoop over the material and cut around it, leaving about an inch of excess material all around.

Separate the two parts of the embroidery hoop, put the fabric over the smaller ring, then press the larger ring back in place, making sure the fabric is taut.  Do this for all three rings. Once your fabric is in place you can trim the excess fabric away.

Embroidery Hoop Snowman Door Hanging

I made the eyes, nose, mouth, and buttons from scraps of fabric in my stash. The hat and scarf are made from two sweaters that I was getting rid of - I like how the knit gives it a more 3-D effect. I just glued the grey stripes right on to the blue material with craft glue. A piece of cardboard cut into a triangle and inserted into the hat keeps it from falling over. Tom thought the hat needed a pompom, so I whipped one up with grey yarn.

Embroidery Hoop Snowman Door Hanging

To join the hoops, I tied the first two together at the locks using yarn. I wanted there to be a tiny bit of a gap between them to leave room for the scarf. The bottom two hoops are glued together (hot glue).

Embroidery Hoop Snowman Door Hanging

The bottom circle looked a little plain with nothing on it, so I added a "Merry Christmas" sign that I bought at the dollar store.

Embroidery Hoop Snowman Door Hanging

The final touch was adding the arms. They're branches cut from the clematis out front and glued to the back edge of the middle hoop.

Embroidery Hoop Snowman Door Hanging

Looking at it now, it kind of shouts third-grade craft time vs. let's sell these on Etsy. But I enjoyed making it, and it adds a bit of whimsy to our otherwise sedate front entrance. I haven't yet decided if he'll stay - I might break down and switch him out for one of the wreaths I've made in the past.

What do you go for when decorating - fun or classic?

Embroidery Hoop Snowman Door Hanging

Embroidery Hoop Snowman Door Hanging




Nov 19, 2014

Storage Solutions - Suspended Shelving

We've been spending the last week or two getting the garage and house ready for winter. But mostly the garage. It's where the important stuff is kept after all. We have only a single car garage, and I like to keep my truck cozy in the winter, so we have to be imaginative when it comes to storing everything.

Enter Tom's newest "invention" - the suspended lawnmower shelf. It's a close relative to the fold-up work bench in that when it's not in use it also folds flat against the wall out of the way. This can work for any piece of equipment that you need out of the way, but that you might not want to store overhead. It's a bit of an ugly duckling - definitely function over form at work here - but it gets the job done.

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

During the winter, we run a space heater when we're working in the garage. Since that has to remain on the floor, the most logical place for the lawnmower was up above it. There's also a shop vac hung higher on the wall, and the lawnmower fits nicely in between the two.

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

The first thing Tom did was secure a piece of plywood to the wall to give the frame a strong surface to attach to. There are studs behind the drywall, but as we found with the ensuite shower wall, the two don't always meet.

He attached two 4 foot long 2x3s to the wall vertically about 18 inches apart, which is the distance between the front and back wheels of the lawnmower. Yours might be different so make sure to measure first. He then built a rectangular ladder-shaped frame with more 2x3s that sits between the wall uprights. This will be the shelf when the lawnmower is stored.

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

The frame is 18 inches wide of course, and slightly longer than the width of the lawnmower deck. Tom drilled a hole through each of the frame "legs" about 2 inches from the bottom, and through each of the upright boards at the height he wanted the shelf. The frame was then attached to the wall with hitch pins that allow the shelf to pivot up and down. You could also attach it with bolts instead of pins.

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

Note that you might have to cut off the top back corners of your frame legs so that the frame has clearance to pivot without getting hung up on the wall.

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

A heavy-duty screw eye is attached to the front of each upright near the top. A cable is going to run from the screw eye, down across the front of the frame, and up to the other eye. This cable is what will support the weight of the lawnmower and the shelf.

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

At the front of the frame, Tom drilled a hole in each leg, again about 2 inches in, to run the cable through. He ran the wire cable through the holes, and up to the screw eye, making sure that the cable was taut and leaving about 6-8 inches of excess wire on each side when the shelf is parallel to the floor. Remember that the weight of the lawnmower will cause the shelf to drop a bit, so it's better to have the cable slightly short.

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

The cable ends are folded over and secured together with a wire loop clamp, then the ends are taped off so no one gets poked with a sharp end. A carabiner is then attached to each cable loop. 

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

The carabiners are then locked onto the eye screws. You could also use a hook instead of a carabiner, but the carabiner is safer as it ensures that the cables are locked in place and won't slip.

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

The only other thing you'll need is a spare piece of 2x3 that is the length of the space from the floor to the bottom of your shelf. Pop that board under the front edge of the frame any time you have the lawnmower on the shelf and are unhooking the cables, to make sure your shelf doesn't inadvertently drop and the lawnmower then tumbles to the floor (or onto you).

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

Once the cables are hooked up you can just tuck the board in behind the lawnmower.

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage


When you aren't using the shelf - in the summer we keep the lawnmower on the garage floor and tuck the space heater away under the tool bench - you can fold it up flat against the wall and it isn't in the way.



DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

Hopefully this will give you ideas for your own garage. We try to use every inch of wall space that we can, top to bottom. Someday I'll have to give you a tour.

Here are a few more shots of the suspended shelf - it deserves to be appreciated from every angle.

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

DIY fold up suspended shelf - garage

Now that the garage is under control I can concentrate on decorating for Christmas. I've already started on three different crafts and can't wait to show them to you.

Has all of this snow and cold weather put you in the holiday mood?


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