Crafted Living

Living a crafted life!

Archive for the month “December, 2012”

Photography Monday: South Pasadena Rose Parade Float

Living in the shadow of the Rose Parade, you either embrace it or run for the hills.  I choose the former since I have loved the Rose Parade since I was a child.  The City of South Pasadena is one of the last entities that creates and builds its own float.  Most floats are designed by a handful of companies that specialize in float building.  The creation of the South Pasadena float is truly a community effort and I wanted to give you a glimpse into that process.

The massive temporary structure that houses the South Pasadena float

The massive temporary structure that houses the South Pasadena float

The South Pasadena float paired with its official design

The South Pasadena float paired with its official design

Prepping the flowers for placement on the float

Prepping the flowers for placement on the float

South Pasadena float detail

South Pasadena float detail

Flowers everywhere

Flowers everywhere

I was fortunate enough to work on the float when I was in high school.  We were told to wear clothes and shoes that we didn’t care about because they would get ruined by the glue.  I have fond memories of laying on my back on scaffolding while applying flowers to a designated area.  It was great fun and I enjoyed every minute of it!

My husband and I visited the float building area about 2pm on Sunday afternoon.  All was calm, but time is slowly ticking away.  The float must be finished by the evening of December 31st and then driven to the pre-parade lineup on Orange Grove Boulevard.  The distance is about 1 mile, so they have the advantage of working up to the last minute.  Sometimes that works in their favor and sometimes not.  They are now in the “crunch time” zone and will work all night to get the float finished.  Luckily, we have been experiencing a cold snap, which is the best weather for the floats.  It truly is a labor of love and a testament to creativity.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Photography Monday when I will post photos of the pre-parade lineup from New Year’s Eve.

*Tina

Crafty Today: Lemony Hand Scrub

Lemony Hand Scrub

Lemony Hand Scrub

Our neighbors are delightful and very friendly.  Every Christmas we receive a stockpile of delicious handmade treats from our neighbors.  This year, I wanted to continue with the handmade theme, but make something that was useful and practical.  I found this recipe from Gorgeously Green and then added my own creative touches to make it appropriate for Christmas giving.

Lemony Hand Scrub

  • 1/3 c oil (I used grapeseed oil, but olive and almond will work too)
  • 2/3 c sea salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil

Combine the ingredients in a large bowl.  If giving as gifts, separate into smaller jars.

The small jars came from World Market and cost 99 cents.  I went to Stats, our local independent craft store, to purchase the pine cones.  The leaf pins are from Maya Road and I purchased them online.  I had the ribbon on hand and made the tags from scratch.  I created the small tag in Word then punched it out with this punch.  I tied the ribbon then tucked the tag underneath, added the leaf pin and hot glued the pine cone to the knot of the ribbon.  Voila!

Happy crafting!

*Tina

Recipe File: Brown Butter Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

Tasty snickerdoodles!

The last cookie recipe I wanted to share with you is for Brown Butter Snickerdoodles from Ambitious Kitchen.

Brown Butter Snickerdoodles

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt

For rolling mixture:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  2. With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined.
  3. Chill your dough for 3 hours or as long as possible in the refrigerator (important!), or place in freezer for 30 minutes if you are super eager, although I cannot promise the same results if you do this. Fridge is always best! You want the dough VERY cold. If you desire a ‘puffy’ cookie, place them in the fridge overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once dough is chilled measure about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Meanwhile mix 1/4 cup sugar and the 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a bowl. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake the cookies 8-11 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Bake longer if you like crispier cookies. Cool the cookies on the sheets at least 2 minutes. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets after a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

The only substitution I made was using vanilla greek yogurt because I didn’t have any plain yogurt.  These cookies are to die for and my snickerdoodle expert thought they were the best ever!  Definitely a keeper.

Happy baking!

*Tina

Recipe File: Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thanks to my husband for finding this recipe on the back of the Safeway oats carton.  Here is recipe #3 from my cookie baking stash:

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

  • 2 sticks softened unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 c Safeway Old-Fashioned Oats cereal
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat butter, brown sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly.  Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and then add oats.  Mix it together.  Put mixer on slow speed and slowly add dry mixture until thoroughly blended.  Add chocolate chips and mix together.  Then add golden raisins and mix until incorporated.  Using a small scoop, drop by the scoopful onto cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-13 minutes and rotate the baking sheets halfway through.  Cookies will be soft, but will firm up as they cool.  Makes about 45 cookies.

I love oatmeal raisin cookies and find these to be quite exceptional because of the spice mixture and unexpected surprise of the golden raisins.  My husband and I discovered long ago that recipes on the back or inside of packages usually are the best because they want you to use their product.  Kudos to my husband for discovering this recipe and being my chief cookie tester!

Happy baking!

*Tina

Merry Christmas!

Wren doing her best imitation of a furry snowball

Wren doing her best imitation of a furry snowball

Wren and I wish you very Merry Christmas!

*Tina

Photography Monday: Christmas Lights

St. Albans Rd in San Marino

St. Albans Rd in San Marino

St. Albans Rd in San Marino

St. Albans Rd in San Marino

St. Albans Rd in San Marino

St. Albans Rd in San Marino

Seeing the Christmas lights on St. Albans Road is a Christmas tradition in my family.  This road is in the neighboring town and the residents have been decorating these majestic pines for many years.  It is best to park the car and stroll the avenue to experience the full effect of its grandness.  You feel as though you are a miniature character in a magnificent Christmas spectacle.  Merry Christmas!

*Tina

Recipe File: Chocolate Pistachio Wafers

Chocolate Pistachio Wafers

Chocolate Pistachio Wafers

Here is the second cookie recipe that my husband found on the inside of the Challenge Butter package.  He said we should try it.  What a smart man!

Chocolate Pistachio Wafers

  • 3/4 c or 1 1/2 sticks of salted butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 to 3/4 c finely chopped raw pistachio nuts

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Fold dry ingredients into creamed mixture and mix until blended.  Form dough into two 10 inch to 11 inch long logs on sheets of parchment paper.  Position each log in the center of the paper.  Pour half of the chopped pistachios in a line parallel with each log of dough.  Roll logs in nuts to thoroughly cover the outside of each log.  Wrap each log in parchment paper and chill for 2-3 hours.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Slice each log into 1/4 inch slices and put on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Yields about 5 dozen.

One of my work colleagues favors this cookie over all others.  She won’t even eat the other cookies in the gift package because she loves these that much.  I offered to share the recipe with her and she said no because she only wants to treat herself to enjoying them once a year.  Wow!

Happy baking!

*Tina

Recipe File: Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

One of my Christmas traditions is to bake cookies for friends and colleagues.  I don’t prescribe to the notion of baking the traditional Christmas cookie.  I bake my favorite tried and true recipes that never fail to shower me with many compliments.  These recipes are that good.  I will share four cookie recipes and today is Peanut Butter.

Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1/2 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c butter flavored shortening
  • 1/2 c peanut butter
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 c + 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 c oats
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Beat the sugars and shortening together.  Add the peanut butter and beaten egg to the mixture and blend.  Sift all of the dried ingredients and add the oats.  While the mixer is running, slowly add all the dried ingredients until completely blended.  Using a small ice cream scoop, drop the scooped mixture into your hand and roll into a ball.  Place on the cookie sheet and flatten each cookie ball with a fork.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes and switch sheets halfway through for even baking.  Watch them closely so the cookies don’t burn.

I have been baking these cookies for years and the recipe came from a fundraiser, you-must-participate cookbook from the 1970’s.  The only change I made was to use butter flavored shortening and it brought these cookies up in flavor to make them outstanding.  I hope you try them!

Happy baking!

*Tina

Christmas Village

Department 56 Christmas Village

Department 56 Christmas Village

A few weeks ago on a Sunday, my father called and asked if we wanted the Christmas Village as an early Christmas gift.  Most definitely!  My parents thought this village would be perfect in our home and they were right.  It is lovely and a nice adornment for our mantle.  Don’t worry.  My parents have another village to display in their home.

Department 56 Christmas Village detail

Department 56 Christmas Village detail

We had the village on display during my husband’s birthday party and the best comment was about the hotel disco party on the top floor.  How appropriate!

*Tina

Recipe File: Chocolate Filled Raspberries

Chocolate filled raspberries

Chocolate filled raspberries

For the party, I made chocolate filled raspberries and they were scrumptious.  I got the recipe from Sweet Paul and you will need the following:

  • fresh raspberries
  • dark chocolate chips

Simply place a chocolate chip in each raspberry.  Put the pointy end of the chip in.  Finished.  Unbelievably good and addictive!

Enjoy!

*Tina

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