Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My Sewing Rooms

Over at Sewn by Leila, she asked us to share our sewing rooms on her site.  So... here I go.  I have two areas that work as sewing rooms.  The first is located in my bedroom.  This is where I work on my wools.  It is a make shift area that will be getting an over haul this year.  The buffet/cutting table will be leaving my house, and my son will be building me some rustic shelves to go with my crates.  Then, I can finally start unpacking some of my tubs of upcycled wool fabric.  Ahhh... It inspires my creativity just thinking about it!  ;)    

My quilting area is located in my front room.  Normally when not in use, two-thirds of the table is decorated for the seasons.  The end of the table with the sewing machine and notions are left out, since I can sew during the day on precut blocks.  As you can see under the table, Mr. Hollow and Farmerboy are busy leaving me their jean mending projects. ;)  The block in the corner of the table is my first "Sister's Choice" block that is completely finished.  I will be sharing those with you in a week or so.  :)

For those friends that are new to my blog, this is one of the pie safes that my son made me of vintage barn board for my fabric.  (If you would like to see my larger one click here.)  The picnic baskets (that can be seen here) are sprinkled throughout my front room and are used to hide some of my stash! ;)  

Although my plan is to have a studio apart from my home to house my sewing rooms and drawing room, these little areas are working fine for right now.  Well, time to get back to creating! ;) 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Recipe for Homemade Bisquick Mix

My younger Sister (aka Coupon Con) was telling me of her boxes of Bisquick that she purchased for pennies on the dollar.  She made quite the haul.  Lots of times, the stores around her area run double coupon days or extreme sales on her target items, allowing her to swoop in with her savvy couponing ways.  She lives close in proximity to these outlets which makes multiple stops easy for her.   I love to hear her finds and miss (on occasions like this) the days of having the larger chain stores close at hand.   Her story got me thinking about an alternative.  Why not save money by making my own Bisquick from scratch?  Hmmm.

I began to search around looking for a worthy recipe.  In the end, my mind focused upon a recipe that seemed to be a common thread to all the recipes floating out there.  The only exception is that I did not incorporate the powdered milk, since I seem to always have milk in the house.  Also, there are other recipes that use butter instead of vegetable shortening.  Although I love the idea of butter and may try substituting it someday, my mix made use of Butter Flavor Crisco shortening that does not require refrigeration; although, I am a massive chicken and have my container stored in the fridge! LOL 

Here is the simple recipe that created my homemade Bisquick mix:

6 c.  All Purpose Flour (sifted)
3 T.  Baking Powder
1 T.  Salt
1 c.  Butter Flavor Crisco

All ingredients are placed in a bowl and mixed together using a hand held pastry blender.  The mix should look crumbly like the picture below and is loose flour when picked up in the hand. 

Ta Da!  That is all there is too it. And to my pleasant surprise, the mixing went fast. :)

Here are the biscuits that I made using  2 1/4 c. mix with 2/3 c. milk.  The mix and milk were stirred into a soft dough and rolled out on a floured surface to 1/2" thickness.  They were cut out with a biscuit cutter and baked on a cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes at 450 degrees.


The final verdict... They unanimously won the approval of my family.   :0) 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Free Organizational Printables~ Blogging & Menu Planning

We can all use a little help keeping our lives in order, and the blog By Your Hands really helped me keep my New Year's resolution of  being more organized with a post full of free printables.  (The full array can be found at the By Your Hands post here.)  All of the printables are colorful and fun.  While you are there, browse around their site.  It is well worth your time!   Below are links to two of the printables that I selected to make use of...

My first print out (which made me long to make my dream of owning a book binder a reality) was an awesome Blogging Planner from Jenn at Mama Jenn Blogs.  This is just CRAZY good.  Jenn has thought of everything and anything an organized blogger would like to have.  I think she must be the Queen of Organization.  Let's face it... She has the credentials with homeschooling 1 daughter and 2 sets of twin boys, along with managing her 5 blogs.   The minute after reading her Bio, my printer was humming away! 

If you would like to jump directly to Jenn's printable click here.

Then, I was off to visit Lindsay at Artsy-Fartsy Mama.  She is the talented wife/mom/graphic designer that created this wonderful Menu planner. :)  The pages come in an array of colors or black and white.   (My preference is for the multi colored page!)    With menu planning being a vital part of my New Year, these pages were heaven sent. :) 

If you would like to jump and check out Lindsay's planner... click here.  She also has some FREE recipe card printables that I will be taking advantage of in the near future! ;) 

We are so blessed to share the world with such giving and talented people.  If you have the time, please check out By Your Hands, Mama Jenn Blogs, and Artsy-Fartsy Mama.  You won't be disappointed! :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Farewell to 2012 ~ A Welcome to 2013

Last year seemed to fly by.  Without actually realizing it, some great changes were happening to me.  I know what your thinking... Okay Brenda, how could you not realize it?   Well, with the new job having kicked off at the end of April, my best guess is that I was too caught up in the now of learning new tasks.   I was truly a "fish-out-of-water" going from a job based in art to a job based in computers and  finance.  Yikes!  But,  I was fortunate enough to be blessed with a knowledgeable mentor, making a world of difference to the new beginning.  My new job marked the first positive change in my life for 2012, it put all my money making responsibilities into ONE scheduled time frame.  Months after being hired, I felt a burden being lifted from my shoulders... Then came the ripple effect...

As I became more comfortable in my position and extra hours took money woes away from me, I found myself turning away from hobbies and interests.  Was this some kind of burn out?  No, it is my belief that I was on the precipice of a great change in my life...

The Great Epiphany... ;)  I think part of what makes an Epiphany so great is that they arrive to you at the darnedest times and are so mine blowing in their simplicity.  You know, that "Wow... I could have had a V8 moment".  One warm summer day while mowing, my mind was mulling over the various craft projects in my head, when suddenly I thought, "Why am I sticking with projects that I am so utterly tired of?  (To be brutally honest, the necessity for deriving an income from them has now been removed from the equation.)  So, why am I putting myself through completing tasks that I feel are becoming a burden or heaven forbid a bad job?" (Hmmm... interesting thoughts that spanned over that half of an hour.)  Then came the new realization... The epiphany that I had been waiting for... " I no longer need to stick with popular crafts or side jobs for monetary survival... I am free to explore any idea that enters my head, to create any craft, to delve into the great realm of learning without being pulled out by other responsibilities that cut drastically into my free time.  And even better yet, I do not have to feel guilty about following my true dreams."   And let me tell you, I have notebooks filled with ideas from over the years of various topics that I would love to dive deeper into. This brings me to the second positive change in 2012...

The Guide...  Not long after my epiphany, Etsy ran an interesting story on multi tasking personalities.  The term Multipotentialites was the name for persons that in essence are drawn to study a wide range of subjects, wants to explore all their interests at once, are multi-tasking in nature, and feel the pressure of time to master all the subjects that they love.  It described me and my "running in all directions" life!   The article couldn't have come at a better time to help me manage my after work hours and led me to the coiner of the personality's name,  Emily at Puttylike.  It was there that I learned that I did not have some crazy form of ADD, just a different way of viewing the world.  I learned a lot about myself on that site and was directed towards the books of Barbara Sher, who is one of the leading authorities on this personality type.  Her books "Wishcraft", "Refuse to Choose", and "I Could Do Anything, If Only I Knew What It Was" opened my eyes to a more organized way of living with my personality.  Which, I am sure was a relief to Mr. Hollow and FarmerBoy, too. ;) 

The Work in Progress...  The end of the year was devoted to organizing my mind and house, discovering my true interests (no matter how many there may be), and finding the surprisingly few overarching passions that link them together to fit them into my life.  Although I am not done completely with these tasks, the end of 2012 saw my life heading in the right direction.  My excitement for the New Year was something that I hadn't felt so strongly about in a long time.

As the ground breaking part of my journey continues, my creativity is renewed and my sense of exploration is stronger than ever.  The Hollow will see some new crafts, recipes, organizing tips, along with new finds, and adventures.  I am so happy with the twists and turns of 2012 and look forward with excitement to sharing with my friends at The Hollow in 2013!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Copper Gifts Huge Gingerbread Man Cookie Cutter

Happy New Year!  Instead of starting off with a traditional New Year's post, I decided to share one of my Christmas presents with you.  Leading up to this purchase... I had a phone conversation with my Sister a few weeks before the Holiday, and we had a discussion about how sometimes you just have to buy a gift for the holidays that is something crazy...  something that you simply just want to have. So parting with my practical ways, I purchased for myself a Huge Gingerbread Man cookie cutter from Copper Gifts.   When I saw this huge ginger featured on the Food Channel a few years ago, my wish was to some day add it to my cookie cutter collection.  I am happy to say that it was my most frivolous and favorite gift of the season!   

**Note**  Raymond and Beth Braman (owners of Copper Gifts) make some of the most gorgeous copper cookie cutters in their Kansas based business.  The copper creations range from mini cutters all the way up to the enormous sized Gingerbread Man!  The enormous size ginger is over 20 inches tall... That is one BIG cookie! :)  Although I was in awe of their latest enormous creation, my mind was set on a "cookie sheet manageable"  Huge Gingerbread Man that measures 14.5 x 10 inches. 

A week before Christmas my present arrived.  It was such a thrill to hold this beautiful cookie cutter.  Look at how they wrapped it!  It came with a shimmering red bow, laminated recipe card, and to gather his bag... a lovely tied ribbon with their company name printed on it.  Very festive! :)      

I had Farmer Girl hold onto him to give you a little perspective on the size of this big guy.  Copper Gifts shaped him out of a 2 inch wide band of copper.  He is sturdy!  On his handle, the company hammered their logo into the copper.  The quality of work on this cutter is amazing.  I couldn't be more thrilled! 

I was so busy with last minute preparations that I forgot to take pics of the baking process.  So, this pic was hastily snapped at my family's Christmas gathering.  As you can see, my nieces already had begun to devour his right leg! ;)

If you would like to spend some time browsing the Copper Gifts Website, it can be found here.   As you all know, I love handcrafted items and am in awe of the talented Artisans that practice their crafts.  I hope to keep discovering new people and purchasing their works of art.   I am so glad that I have my friends here at the Hollow to share my wonderful discoveries with.  My sincerest wish is that we all be blessed with a joy filled year... WELCOME 2013!! :)