Sunday, December 18, 2011

More handmade gifts: T-shirts for my girls

After I made that dolman sleeve top, both Brenda and Kayla said they each wanted one for Christmas. How flattering! Of course I had to oblige. I picked out some fabric at Jo-Anns about a month ago and got to work. I've been working on these on and off when I had time, amidst other things so the month time frame is really misleading. In total (including pinning at which, for some reason, I am painfully slow) these probably only took a couple of hours each to complete. I adjusted my original pattern slightly by dropping the armpit on both of these. I like the look a lot. The striped one is made from a super stretchy knit that was a nightmare to sew but I LOVE how it came out all drapey. Its really soft and comfortable to wear too. To be honest, I kinda wanted to keep it. The photo makes it look a bit pink, but its actually bright red and navy.

Kayla's was a little less frustrating to sew with but isn't as stretchy so its a bit more structured. I think the cut of it will be so flattering on her. She also got to peek at the fabric before I started and claimed she loved it. I forgot to take a picture before I wrapped it so I'll have to try to get her wearing it.

Kayla's whole present includes the top, a jar of homemade pickles and a little something Jack picked out for his auntie. Brenda will be getting her top and a picture that Jack scribbled just for her. Now, off to the post office! Auntie Brenda's gift has to travel all the way to Australia... if we hurry, it might not be too terribly late.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Semi-homemade holiday cupcakes

First off, ooch! Sorry blog, I didn't mean to be away so long. Hubbs and I went to Vegas for a couple days sans babe (it was a blast) and then things happened and whatnot and such. Anyhoo, I'm back, and I've been in a holiday mood!

I wanted to bake something festive but I didn't want it to be complicated. I started digging through the pantry and inspiration struck when I saw the chocolate cake mix. I sent hubbs out for some frosting and candy canes (which I needed for the Christmas tree anyway...) and the chocolate, peppermint cupcake was born!

This is all you need. These turned out amazing. They were met with both "Oooos" and "Ahhhhhs" and also with requests for seconds. So I'd say they were pretty AND nummers. Win!

The deets: I added a half teaspoon of peppermint extract right into the frosting can and mixed it up before decorating the cupcakes. I think it was just the right amount. A subtle flavor that was definitely noticeable but not overpowering. I would add more flavor by the 1/4 teaspoon to taste if you want something a little punchier. For the "Martha Stewart" topping I just unwrapped 3 candy canes, put them in a freezer bag and smashed them up with the bottom of my Pyrex liquid measuring cup. The single can of frosting and 3 candy canes were just about the perfect amount for 24 cupcakes (1 box of mix).

Note: In the photo you'll see whipped frosting. This turned out to be a bad idea and hubbs went back out for cream cheese, which ended up much tastier anyway. See, once you mix the flavoring into the whipped frosting, the texture turns to a silky paste which when combined with peppermint flavor is unmistakably toothpaste-ish. Not yummy at all.

I would totally make these again. They were a huge hit and so easy. Perfect for a quick and easy festive project. Happy baking!