5/31/2014

Recipe: Baked Cronuts Two Ways. Filled with sweetened marscarpone and topped with a lemon glaze, or decorated with marzipan crumbles and bing cherries

Hi everyone! Alexandra and I are very excited to share our new recipe for baked cronuts today! Truth be told, neither of us have had the opportunity to try an actual cronut. They sound amazing but as if a regular fried piece of dough wasn't bad enough, adding a million layers of butter inside sounds like overkill. 
But the idea of a tender, flaky piece of baked puff pastry dressed up like a donut sounded just right, especially if it incorporated some seasonal fruit, and so our baked cronuts were born! You can make either of the two flavors, but we found our favorite was stuffing everything into one huge, hard-to-eat monstrosity of awesomeness. There's no photos of that scene, but you get the idea...



 First, assemble your ingredients:
1 package Dufour Classic Puff Pastry (one sheet will make about 12 cronuts)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 roll of marzipan, finely chopped into crumbles
A pint of ripe cherries, pitted and cut into eighths
8 oz. tub of marscarpone cheese
1 cup plus 2 tbsp powdered sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp milk
Tiny bit of flour for keeping pastry from sticking
Sprinkles!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Allow your sheet of puff pastry to thaw completely before unfolding it onto a sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with a little flour, then use small and large cookie cutters to cut out your donut shapes. We used a cute scalloped one, but round, or even hearts or squares, would be cute too. We also saved our scraps and baked them up separately to munch on later with leftover glaze and toppings!

Transfer your sheet of parchment to a cookie sheet and spread the rings out. Brush each one generously with melted butter. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until firm to the touch and nicely browned. If they deflate as they cool then they need to be baked a teensy bit longer.

While they're baking you can whip up the glazes, fillings, and toppings. If you want to make the lemon glazed version, start by combining the tub of marzipan with two tablespoons of powdered sugar. When they're well mixed, spoon it into a baggie and clip the corner for piping, or use a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.

When your baked cronuts have cooled, slice them in half very carefully with a good serrated knife. Use a sawing motion without applying too much pressure to keep them from crumbling. Pipe a generous amount of the sweetened marscarpone filling into the bottom half of the pastry.

 To make the lemon glaze, combine 1/2 a cup powdered sugar with the zest and juice of a lemon, adding the juice slowly while stirring until the glaze is relatively runny. If the juice wasn't quite enough liquid to make the glaze thin, add a tiny bit of milk to achieve the right consistency. Dip the top half of the cronut into the glaze and sandwich it with the filled bottom half and immediately apply your sprinkles so they stick:


If you want to make the cherry and marzipan version, make a plain glaze by combining the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar with a tiny bit of lemon juice and about a tablespoon of milk to achieve a runny consistency. Dip the top of a whole baked cronut into the glaze and top with the cherry slices and crumbled marzipan and enjoy! And if you want to be truly decadent, stuff a glazed cronut with the cherries, marzipan, and marscarpone all together and chow down... You know you want to.

5/12/2014

Shop Update: Herb and Spice Trivets, Vintage Button Art Pieces, and DIY Yarn Bombing Kits!

There's a ton of new cute items up for sale in my Etsy shop this week! These herb and spice filled trivets, which I talked about making for a craft fair, are finally listed in the shop!

As are these wonderful vintage button art pieces I made. I've been collecting vintage buttons my entire life and I'm so happy to have these special ones out of the jars and on display! The one in the top middle is sold, and the center one is mine, but the rest are in the shop waiting for new homes! I've also listed a framing option for them if you want yours to arrive nicely framed!

And lastly, I've created a new version of my Yarn Bombing Kit that comes without a knitted piece included, for those of you who want to make your own and ship it off to a friend!

Happy shopping! ^_^

5/07/2014

Finished Object: The Never-Ending Seed Stitch Wrap. I've been knitting this since September, but it came out so lovely! Plus a bonus tiny baby hat made from the scraps!

It's finally done! Coming in at a whopping 24" x 72" and using over 1600 yards of Lily Sugar'n Cream worsted weight cotton yarn, it's my most ambitious knitting project to date. I knit a sweater once in a single month. This monster took me about 9 months, working on it in the evenings here and there when I could. I'm completely in love with it! It's hefty and squishy and thanks to the fact that it's entirely seed stitch I didn't even have to block it.


I started making it because some time soon we hope to get a small flock of chickens for the backyard, and I wanted a nice wrap to wear while I sit on the swing and let them roam around for a couple hours each day. I needed something that would hit at the elbow so I could knit while wearing it and this came out just perfect!

I used this pattern from the Purl Bee blog, cast on the 109 stitches with my size 8 vintage straight needles, and used all the balls of Sugar'n Cream I had in my stash plus a couple more coordinating shades. I decided I would just knit till the ball ran out and that's how I got the wonky stripes. Possibly my favorite thing about my version is that, while Purl's version was made with a different, very expensive cashmere yarn, mine cost about $20 in yarn. I didn't want it to take forever and cost a fortune, it had to be one or the other for me.

When I was done I had mostly tiny scraps of all the colors left, but I knit from a big cone of the cream, so I decided to make a baby hat to match the wrap. I can see it turning into a nursing cover in the future and I thought having a little hat to match would be too cute!

I used a pattern that I found on Ravelry, but I feel like I ended up with a few too many straight rows. If I could do it over I'd remove the first stripe of cream stockinette altogether and start with the blue stripe right after the seed stitch brim so it would be a little shorter. But I really love it all the same, and I may try blocking it a bit but rolling the brim is also an option. Into the hope chest it goes! And into my cuddly wrap I go...

4/28/2014

Shop Update: Yarn Bombing Kits, handmade pom pom flowers, giant paper flower surprise balls, and tons of vintage and antique goodies just in time for Mother's Day.


There's some exciting new products up for sale in my Etsy shop! Firstly, there's my Yarn Bombing Kits, pictured above! They've been in the works for quite some time, and I'm super excited to finally release them! They come with everything you need to install a unique yarn bomb and it all comes shipped in a drawstring bag. How fun would it be to get one of these in the mail?!



Just in time for Mother's Day I've listed my pom pom flowers: beautiful handmade wool pompoms in specially chosen colors on white twig stems. They're only $3 a blossom so you can select colors and sizes from a drop-down menu and build your own bouquets!


Also up for sale are some beautiful jumbo paper flower surprise balls! Filled with 9 vintage and vintage-inspired prizes, they are made from over 70 feet of hand-cut multicolored crepe paper streamers and recycled tissue paper. Each one is unique, and has a stem which also contains a prize so they're fun to give or display. The prizes inside are gender neutral and great for young and old alike.


Lastly, I've been destashing a lot of my vintage goodies and they're up online now at very low prices! I need the space but it's hard to see some of these treasures go! Hope you enjoy my new goodies!

4/25/2014

Tutorial: Moon Phase Crib Quilt for Baby. A simple pattern with stunning results, it's large enough for an adult lap quilt as well!


This quilt is a very special one to me, it's the one that I am tucking away into the hope chest for the hypothetical someday baby. I think my maternal clock must have started ticking in the past year or so because I seem to be making and squirreling away quite a lot of goodies that I normally would have sold on Etsy. Johnny and I have a thing for moons, and when we found Lizzy House's Moon Phase Polkadot fabric I knew I had to make a quilt. I had some other vaguely-moon-invoking prints in my stash and they looked lovely together! Here is the simple tutorial for this quilt's design, any novice quilter could whip this one up in a weekend or so without too much fuss.


How to Make a Moon Phase Quilt:
Finished dimensions, about 42x45 inches.
You'll need 1/4 yards of 4 different coordinating materials, and 1/2 a yard of a 5th material
1 yard of cotton needle punch weight batting
1.5 yards of a backing fabric if you plan on making your own bias tape -or-
1 yard of backing fabric and 5 yards of coordinating bias tape
Coordinating cotton thread

 
If you get your pieces cut in 1/4 yards from the fabric shop it saves some time, since you will want to cut them in half lengthwise to get 2 4.5 inch wide strips from each quarter yard. Also cut the 1/2 yard piece into 3 such strips.

You want to arrange the fabrics so that the first strip and last strip match, 2nd and 2nd to last match, etc, with the pattern meeting in the middle with a single strip to echo the phases of the moon. I chose to use a fabric already in the quilt  for the single middle strip because it was my favorite, but you could also use a completely unique piece.

Stitch the strips, right sides together lengthwise, in the order you have them laid out. Use a 1/4 inch seam allowance so the strips will be 4 inches wide when sewn. Press the seams flat when you're done.

 Now you'll need some space to lay down and smooth out the backing fabric (wrong side up if it has one), then the batting, then the quilt front right side up. Trim the bottom and batting to be relatively even with a little extra overhang, but don't worry about making it perfect as there will be some shifting as you quilt.

I like to use giant safety pins, which can be found with the quilting supplies at any craft store, to keep all my layers together as I quilt. Working with regular pins and trying to roll up a quilt to fit it under the arm of a sewing machine is risky business, and basting is too tedious for my tastes.

Now comes the fun part! For your first bit of quilting be sure you've got a walking foot on your machine and sew down along the seams between the strips of fabric. This is known as "in the ditch" quilting. You can't easily measure this, so just eyeball it as you go.

If you're in a terrible hurry you could just stop here and add the binding and it would still be a lovely quilt, but I prefer to add the next bit of quilting:

Using your walking foot's guide arm, set it to 2 inches out and line it up with the seam you just quilted over so you'll be sewing down the center of each strip. Quilt all of them this way:

All done quilting! Trim any excess fabric around the quilt top so you get a nice even edge for binding.

I always make my own bias tape, though for solid colored fabrics I usually don't cut the strips on the bias. For this quilt I cut 4" strips from my backing material and I didn't even feel the need to iron the giant strip in half, though for first-timers it would make it a bit easier. If you've never made your own and want to try it, check out my tutorial on how to quilt and scroll down to see my method.

Now line up the raw edges of the bias tape and the quilt, and using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, stitch them together with a regular presser foot on the machine. See my how to quilt tutorial for my method on starting, finishing, and making mitered corners for your quilt binding.

Now, using the method I linked to above, fold your bias tape over the edge and hand-stitch it in place using a blind stitch. This is my favorite part of quilt making!

I don't like to pre-shrink my fabrics because I love the wrinkles quilts get after years of use, and if you're the same way then when you're done sewing go throw it in a hot washer and dryer. So cuddly!

And there you have it! If you end up using this pattern I'd love to see what you make! You can leave me a comment here or go ahead and share your photos on my Oh the Cuteness Flickr group!

4/16/2014

Tutorial: Felt bunny ears for Easter! Make a pompom crown with feltears, or a sweet headband with lop ears! What kind of bunny are you?



I was invited this past Sunday to a wonderful pre-Easter brunch at my fabulous friend Alex's new little cottage home. Included in the invite was the phrase "Bonus points for bunny costumes." Now, most of you know I'm not one to pass up an opportunity to be in costume so I decided to make a smashing pair of bunny ears to wear to the fete, and they turned out so well I thought I'd write a little tutorial! These would be great to make with kids, as they could make the pom poms, and cut and color their own ears, though an adult should do the hot glue step.



And as it turns out, Alex was the only other person who wore bunny ears, and hers were so different yet uncannily similar to mine that we had to partner up! Her version of lop-ears are very quick and easy, and endlessly charming, and you can scroll down to find the tutorial. So which kind of bunny are you? (By the way, no, this is not the cover of our indie-French-pop album. Model faces for the win.)

How to Make a Pom Pom Easter Bunny Crown:
You'll need floral wire, white felt, a pink sharpie, a hot glue gun, scrap yarn, and either a cardboard or plastic pom pom maker.


First, take some nice thread wrapped floral wire and form it into a circle. One piece usually will work for a child's size, while I needed two for my crown. To close the loop, simply bend the ends back about 1/2 an inch at right angles to each other and hook together. The single link on the child's crown can be covered with long pieces of ribbon if you want it to be extra fancy!


Next, you'll need to make your pom poms. For the kid's crown you'll need 4-5 smaller diameter (1-2 inch diameter), and for the adults you'll need 6 larger diameter ones. There's lots of different methods you can use to make a pom pom, some of which you can find here, but I highly recommend getting a pom pom maker from Clover. It rules my world!
While making pom poms, experiment with different color placements and combos. This is a great way to use up pretty pastel yarn scraps!


Now take a piece of felt that's about 4x6 inches and fold it in half lengthwise, and cut out a freehand bunny ear shape. Cutting through both layers at once makes them match!


Now take your pink sharpie and draw the pink centers. Use the side of the marker with long light strokes.


Now, to attach your ears for the child's version, fold them in half at the flat bottom, set them on the interior of the ring of wire and fold about 1/2 an inch up, encasing the wire, and use hot glue to both keep the ear in place and keep it folded. It helps to mark with a pencil where you want the ears to be while you fit the wire ring to the child's head.
For the adult version, stick the fold of the ear into the hook of wire and fold over and glue for extra stability. Check out the photos above and below:



Tada! This is fun all on its own, but it gets extra magical when you add the pom poms!


Grab one of your trimmed pom poms and gently spread apart the yarn until you find the center where you tied it together...


Place a line of hot glue across the center...


And lay the wire down into the line of glue, then pinch the strands of yarn all up around it to encase it:


Keep putting pom poms along the wire using this method, working from either the ears to the center, or the center outward, with the largest pom poms at the center. Be sure to place them close together to hide the wire! 
I used a couple snap clips in my hair behind the bunny ears to make sure it would stay firmly on my head and it worked like a charm!

...Even Karol liked it. Make them for the whole family! (Photo stolen from my friend Megan's Instaram @510doitagain.)

How-To: Last-Minute Lop-Eared Bunny Headband

These ears are a lot of things: quick (10 minutes tops!), cheap, no-sew, no-glue, *and* the headband stays intact for everyday wear!

I've always been a fan of lops - lop-eared rabbits that is.  Their droopiness and floppiness (and perceived mopiness) contrasts so precisely with their pert and alert erect-eared brethren, and appeals to my sensibilities very much.



You'll need...
Felt (just one little 9" x 12" rectangle of craft felt will do!), headband, scissors, blush + blush brush


First, you'll need to cut out your ears.  Now don't get thrown for a loop here - I used two pieces of felt to make two pairs simultaneously.  You truly don't need a template, just cut out the ears long ways utilizing as much of the felt as possible.  Leave the bottom inch and a half straight-sided; this will form the tab that loops around the headband.  


Secondly, you'll need to cut a wee slot, about 3/4 of a an inch long, centered on that straight-sided tab at the base of each ear (don't get too close to the edge or the felt may tear!).


Next comes the fun part: blushing (the idea of which comes from Miranda's sweet bunny ear DIY over at one little minute).  A warm, peachy reddish-pink works best here.  Concentrate the color at the base then drag it upwards in light strokes.


To attach the ears to the headband, simply loop them from behind, fold them in half towards the front (blush side in), and gently pull them through the slot until they're snugly secure.  A headband with little teeth or at least some texture works best to hold the ears in place (but once it's on, your hair will do that just fine).  You can also move them around as you see fit - lop ears tend to be wider set than their pert counterparts.


Snip the corners off the little tabs (rounded if you can manage it) to make them less noticeable from behind...


...and there you have it!  A nice little pair of lopped ears, for you or your smalls!  Furthermore, it just occurred to me that should you prefer upright bunny ears, a once-over with spray starch should do the trick!