Monday, June 29, 2009

Inspiration from NYC

Christyn, of Bead Up, does wonderful posts where she shares the inspiration behind some of her pieces. I love those posts and they make me think about where my inspiration comes from.

Truth be told, more often then not I am inspired by what materials I have on hand. Sometimes the inspiration comes from the person who'll be receiving the card or the mood that I am in. All of these things are a little difficult to showcase.

Last weekend, my husband and I took a trip into NYC to see a show and visit a museum. I've been to NYC a number of times, but it never ceases to capture my imagination. Once, on a trip, I was ruthlessly teased for whipping out my camera at every available opportunity. After my local tour guide (a friend) realized I wasn't taking the typical "tourist" pictures, he eased up.

After returning home from our trip, I was inspired by some of the things I saw there and began working on some overdue thank you cards.
While in NYC I visited FAO Schwarz. I am a Barbie collector and FAO is one of the few stores that I can actually see an upscale doll in person before making a purchase (their selection is limited, and typically a little overpriced). A silkstone doll came home with me (she just hopped in my bag, I swear I don't know how it happened), and when I took a look at the inside of the box I found inspiration to create one of my overdue thank you cards.

The card uses the same color scheme of ivory, gold, and a little black for the lettering. I used my Cricut to cut out the square shape. The phrase and gold corner details are stamped on. I went over the stamps with gel pens to enhance their look. The final touch was a little gold ribbon.
After pulling the tissue paper back to get a better look at my new doll, her swimsuit (inspired by the original Barbie's swimsuit back in 1959- yes, this is Barbie's 50th Anniversary!) was a definite inspiration. I love the simplicity of the swimsuit, and how the black and white really draw your eye.

I used the swimsuit and the turquoise pashmina I bought as inspiration for another long overdue thank you card. I used my Cuttlebug to emboss the flower design on the black paper. Then I went over the embossed design with white and turquoise gel pens. The quadrilateral shape was cut out using my Cricut. Thank you was stamped and then enhanced using my gel pens.
Hopefully, in the future I can do more posts like this, where I can share the source of my inspiration. The trick will be remembering to snap a photo of the inspiration before it's too late.
Where do you get your inspiration?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Now with Toffee Bits

This past Tuesday while my immediate family was enjoying the wonders of Disney World and my husband's immediate family was anxiously awaiting the arrival of a baby girl (niece to us) I got a hankering for good old chocolate chip cookies.

I know I don't often post about cookies here, and to be honest it's because outside of the holidays (I'm talking about the winter holidays here), I don't bake cookies all that frequently. I love cookies, really truly love them, but I don't bake them much.

So on Tuesday, when I got a hankering for chocolate chip cookies and mentioned it to my husband I barely had time to finish my sentence before he said "BAKE THEM!" He's always so supportive.

As I was scooping the dough onto my cookie sheets, I was thinking about how I am never ever happy with my chocolate chip cookies. Sure they taste fine, but I always feel like they look...well, flat.

In the hopes of changing my attitude about my cookies, I decided that I'd try something a little different. I ended up with three dozen cookies (and I probably could have made closer to 3.5 dozen if I hadn't left a healthy amount of dough in the bowl for eating- hey I do not care what the world thinks, I LOVE cookie dough). I left two dozen as your usual, every day, chocolate chip cookie. That last dozen, though, I wanted to be different.

I rustled through our pantry looking for something to add to them. Something that wouldn't just seem thrown on top, but something that might enhance the cookies. In the back I found my half full bag of Heath Toffee Bits (leftover from the Banana Caramel Toffee cupcakes- mmmm).

My husband loves those things. He will eat them by the handful straight from the big- which is why the bag is in the very back of the pantry. I like toffee, but I rarely eat it.

The last dozen cookies had a very healthy amount of toffee sprinkled on them before they went into the oven.

After eating one of the toffee cookies, I decided that I personally prefer my chocolate chips the old fashioned way. If it ain't broke- don't fix it.

My husband, however, thought it was a wonderful combination and thoroughly enjoyed eating them.

So there you have it- if you have a desire for something fresh baked from the oven, go for it. You never know what might happen.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I Can't Bake Without: OXO Good Grips Cookie Scoop

Well, the move is progressing along nicely- and our kitchen is now completely unpacked. However, I have yet to bake anything in the new kitchen (hopefully that will happen this weekend). Combine that with the fact that all of my craft materials are still packed and chaotic, it's time for another segment of "Things I Can't Craft Without" but this time, it's a Baking Edition.

I see what you're thinking over there "yawn, a cookie scoop." But hold on dear readers, I'm here today to tell you that you can do more with a cookie scoop then just make drop cookies.

This is my cookie scoop, the OXO Good Grips Medium Sized Cookie Scoop. I bought it a few years back when I was making mounds of Holiday Cookies because I was tired of my lame attempts to make my cookies come out at about the same size. I settled on the medium, because the small was not going to cut it (I don't like tiny cookies) and the large was just...too big.

It works wonders on my drop cookies, but that shouldn't be a surprise as that is what it was created to do. I use it occasionally for rolled cookies, when I want a nice uniform look, because I don't trust myself to roll 2 dozen cookies in the same size.

Ok, ok, I hear you out there "so why should I not be yawning at this entry again?"

Here it is....are you ready for it?

The best use ever for this cookie scoop is to make cupcakes. Yeah, you heard me, I said cupcakes.

People always ask me how I get my cupcakes so even- without a few random small or overly large cupcakes. This is my secret- I use my cookie scoop to put batter in the baking cups.

It's so much easier/cleaner then trying to pour the batter from my mixing bowl/measuring cup/ziploc bag.

A regular sized cupcake takes between 1.5 and 2 medium cookie scoops of batter. A Texas Cupcake (jumbo, large, whatever) takes probably closer to 3-4 scoops. My mini's take between 1 and 1.5 scoops. Some day, I will probably end up with both the small and large sized cookie scoops too.

If you aren't using a cookie scoop to make your cupcakes yet, get on it. I promise you will think it was the best idea since the invention of velcro.