Saturday, May 14, 2011

Enjoy The Ride - Masculine Gift Card Holder

Sometimes I can't help bringing Crafty Me to the office. Recently one of our contractors left to take a job in Iowa. As a thank you/going away present, I bought him a Visa gift card that he could use for gas or food or whatever on his drive from Boston to Iowa. 

The Papertrey Ink stamp set, Enjoy the Ride, is one of my favorites for masculine cards. Especially for a guy taking a road trip! 

I created a pocket card to hold the gift card on the inside. I started with a 13" x 5" strip of black cardstock and scored at 5" and 10". Then I embellished the front with a 4" x 4" square of patterned paper and punched a 2" circle from a scrap of red cardstock I hand drew a circle on the red circle instead of inking the edges with black. I liked the balance of the line against the black card base.

I stamped the card outline with black Versafine and then Sky Blue pigment ink. My favorite thing to do with this car stamp is to color the headlights with a clear Spica glitter pen and a layer of Glossy Accents. I also colored a few details on the car with a silver Creative Memories pen. Adds interest to the car! I popped up the car with foam adhesive for even more dimension.

Inside the card, I added a 1 3/4" strip of patterned paper and a stamped sentiment from the Enjoy the Ride stamp set. I used ATG adhesive on the top and bottom of the small folded strip to create a pocket. The gift card fit perfectly inside. 

This could be a great idea for Father's Day or a Teacher Appreciation Day gift too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In Search of the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

I've long been a fan of Cook's Illustrated and the companion PBS television show, America's Test Kitchen. I've even been able to test recipes for them and many are among our favorites. Recently I read about the America's Test Kitchen challenge to Boston Bloggers to try their Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

Now, I've got to say that my mom's chocolate chip cookie recipe is pretty darned perfect. So could the experts at America's Test Kitchen produce a cookie that was BETTER than hers? I was skeptical but willing to try it. The ingredients are the same as my favorite recipe. It's the proportions that are different: 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk and more dark brown sugar than white sugar. 

I followed the recipe suggestion to weigh the dry goods. This isn't something I normally do. I have vivid memories of my Nannie's hand on mine as we lightly spooned flour into a measuring cup and then leveled the surface with the back of butter knife. I always think of that when I bake. She said it was the key to light instead of leaden cakes. She was an amazing baker as is my mom. Me? I'm good at following a recipe.

This time I pulled out the digital scale that Joel bought long before we were married and weighed the flour, white sugar and dark brown sugars.

The magic is in the 10 tablespoons of browned butter, which makes the kitchen smell amazing. 

The sugars, vanilla, salt and eggs are whisked into the melted butter. Three rounds of whisking and resting helps the sugar dissolve completely. (I used those 3 minutes to fold laundry while watching the Celtics game.)
Speaking of brown sugar, have you tried a brown sugar bear? This little guy keeps brown sugar moist and pliable for months and months. No more rock hard brown sugar.

Then the flour and baking soda are stirred in followed by the chocolate chips. I didn't have any nuts in the pantry and I wish I did. I love walnuts in my chocolate chip cookies. 

The finished dough has a consistency like Play Doh. It's not shaggy and loose like a typical chocolate chip cookie dough. The recipe called for a #24 scoop. I wanted more "traditional" sized cookies so I used a cookie scoop which made 48 cookies. 

The verdict: completely delicious! They definitely were crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle. The browned butter adds a wonderful and unexpected toffee flavor to the cookies. Joel and I each ate one last night while they were still warm. Perfect with a glass of cold milk. This morning we packed some to enjoy with our lunch at the Brimfield Fair where my mom gave them a thumbs up too. 
I'll definitely keep this recipe in my files. It was easy to follow, easy to execute and easy to clean up. Thanks Cook's Illustrated for another winning recipe.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Paper Thrills Challenge #8

This week over on the Paper Thrills blog, the challenge is to use a print ad.
Like the ad, my page has a subtle print on the top third and a bolder print at the bottom.
I was inspired to use three photos and lots of blue on my layout as well. 
Journaling: Mom and I took Brendan to freshman orientation at UMass. We bought him lunch at Judie's (of course!) How did he grow up so fast?

Pop on over to Paper Thrills to see the ad. We'd love for you to join in!

Supplies Used:
cardstock: Club Scrap
patterned paper: Making Memories
embellishments: Making Memories
journal tag: Luxe Designs
ribbon: May Arts
letter stickers: American Crafts

For the Thrill of Paper

Have you checked out the Paper Thrills challenge blog yet?
It's a brand-new site with weekly challenges.

It's a great place to try new techniques, use up your stash and get scrapping!
I'm very excited to be part of this design team and hope you'll check it out.

I want to share my projects that were created for the Paper Thrills Design Team submission.

Color Palette Challenge: The warm rich colors in the inspiration photo were perfect for this photo from a trip to San Diego back in 2003.
Ad Challenge:
I really love ad challenges. I get so many great ideas this way. From this ad, I was inspired to put the photo on the right side of the page, turn die cut patterned paper into an oversized mat, and the grey background
Sketch Challenge: 
I mixed it up by using the sketch to create a birthday card. I interpreted the circles in the sketch with polka dot prints.
California Sunset
cardstock: Bazzill, patterned paper: Scenic Route (orange print), Pink Paislee (black brocade, blue houndstooth, purple brocade), Basic Grey (orange and black), punch: Fiskars (border), EK Success (circle), journaling tags: Pink Paislee, label: twogirlzstuff (, gems: My Minds Eye, pen: Micron, foam adhesive: Creative Memories
cardstock: Club Scrap (grey, cream), Bazzill (black); patterned paper: Pink Paislee (lime die cut), Luxe Designs (turquoise); letter stickers: Making Memories; pen: Micron
Happy Birthday
cardstock: Paper Source (grey), Bazzill (black), patterned paper: Pink Paislee (blue dot on cream), Luxe Designs (cream dot on turquoise), journaling tag: Pink Paislee, stamp: Papertrey Ink Communique Sentimentsink: Versafine (onyx), ribbon: Wrights, stick pin: Pink Paislee