Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Treats: Homemade Sugar Cookie Fingers and Ghosts!


Fingers & Ghosts, OH MY!!

Are you planning a Halloween Party this year? Need something creative and creepy to serve up to your guests? 
I'm not having a party and I probably won't have any trick or treaters at the farmhouse this evening (we live 5 miles down a gravel road) but I still wanted to do something festive! So, I decided to make these Gross Fingers & Ghosts to take to my husband's office, G'ma at Assisted Living, and a few for our friends in town. 

This is a super simple recipe that you can adapt with your own creative touches!

I used the recipe for my sugar cookies with slight adjustments find the original recipe here:

For my sugar cookies I chose to half the recipe, all ingredients were halved except for the egg and vanilla. 

(Note- I used an organic farm fresh egg. I've never used organic eggs until recently and I feel like their rich yolks make a big difference in my cooking and baking.)

Tip: Ungreased cookie sheet and "smaller dough fingers" made for more shapely fingers, helping keep the finger cookies from spreading out so much in the oven.

 You could make this a quicker project if you buy store bought sugar-cookie dough; however, these homemade sugar cookies turned out absolutely DELICIOUS!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

DIY Big Sister & Little Sister Duo

As we anxiously await the arrival of our baby niece, I decided to create a one-of-a-kind shirt set, a "Big Sister & Little Sister Duo." 

View my previous post (DIY Onesie)
 for materials and steps to make your own 
personalized baby present!

  I hope my niece enjoys being "the big fishy" in the house! Although, when I was face-timing with this adorable 2½ year old a few days ago, she argued, "I'm not big...I'm little!" It made me giggle and I think someone will surely have their hands full in the months to come! 

I know my niece will make a wonderful big sister! As they grow through life together, through all of the ups and downs, I hope they too realize the greatest gift their parents gave them is each other

♥ cheers






Tuesday, October 29, 2013

DIY Onesie: Adorable Baby Present!

DIY Onesie: 

Adorable Baby Present!


I'm at that time in my life where many of my friends and family members are getting married and having babies. It's an incredibly exciting adventure to watch my loved ones become beautiful little families. Not to mention, I LOVE shopping for baby presents! 

While I still get sucked into buying some adorable baby gear, I am always trying to make part, if not all, of my gift. I may do a little painting, ink drawing,  incorporating something unique to our relationship, something personal. And, if I am buying, it's usually local and/or handmade. This is my motto for all present buying; support your local potter, jewelry maker, painter, wood worker, photographer, soap makers! You can find all kinds of amazing treasures in your town. There is something special about finding a piece of art that was made locally by the hands of people you are directly connected to. I hope you'll take the challenge and shop locally for your holiday gifts!  
I digress...  ;)  

Here is my latest creation!  

This onesie "Baby Graham" is quirky and fun just like our awesome friends, the Grahams! They are expecting their first little bundle of love and without knowing the baby's gender, I decided to use the last name and cute bear in reference to Teddy Grahams.  

I chose Teddy Grahams to reference because we had teased about their little graham cracker and how cute is a Teddy Graham! ; )

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our First Visitors!


Last week I missed my blog post because I was very busy spending time with my Mom & Dad! I cannot tell you how many times in the past month any number of people have heard me say, "my parents are coming to Iowa!" I'm sure I've sounded like a broken record! Their visit has been a huge motivator in some of the projects  you've seen me post about, ie. the guest room makeover! 

Well what felt like an eternity finally passed; last Saturday, Zach and I headed for Cedar Rapids to pick up my folks from the airport

On the way, we made a stop at the annual Heritage Days festival.

Our friend Kate was demonstrating her ceramics skills and had a gorgeous display of pottery! (Anyone who knows me, knows I'm obsessed with pottery... it runs in the family!)

After we scooped up my parents from the airport we headed to the store, where they totally spoiled us with our groceries! Then we headed to The Farm. It was so exciting to be with them as they experienced their first drive through the country, from Cedar Rapids to Saint Olaf. Of course the first thing we did was give them a tour of the farmhouse and then as we settled in we decided to grill steaks and unwind over an amazing home cooked meal. 

Everyone was exhausted from the trip so going to bed early wasn't a concern. Up bright and early Sunday, we made it to the historic Norway Church
service before we headed out on the Northeast Iowa Artist Studio Tour.  

The artists' studios that we visited were very inspiring. It was so nice to see where they made their work and feel the creative energy. There were so many studios to tour, it could easily take all three days of the tour to see the majority. Maybe I will make it to more next year, or possibly my studio will be on the tour, we'll see!
We decided to break from the art tour for a delicious lunch, and we really liked Old Armory BBQ in downtown Decorah. I believe each of us had a different "favorite" sauce! Everything tasted freshly made and fabulously flavorful!

on to day 2!

 We had so much fun in McGregor, looking through all of the old shops and then heading over to The Maiden Voyage River Boat Tour. After the Mississippi tour we met Zach in Wisconsin at the Black Angus for an amazing dinner & dessert! Of course we couldn't leave McGregor without a quick trip to Lady Luck! (We didn't lose too much and when we left the casino we saw a man nearly bump another car parking! Hey, that's what bumpers are for, right?)

Thursday we woke up first thing and drove over to Big Spring Fish Hatchery where Gary, and his trusty sidekick Woody, gave us the tour! 

Thursday afternoon, Zach called and we picked him up for a drive to Guttenberg. The view is incredible. 

 I didn't anticipate the goodbye being so hard! 

Looking forward to the holidays


Thanks for checking in! Coming soon: more DIY projects & farmhouse finds!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Happy Halloween


I spent this beautiful afternoon in my art studio and when I finished up with the painting I was working on I had leftover paint. Obviously, I never waste paint!  

I had been wanting to use this old wood plank we removed from the closet, it was being used as an old shelf, so I went for it. Jack-o'-lanterns & my favorite scary word, "eek," now stand tall and creepy in the front yard! 

This is my favorite time of year and 
I love my new festive artwork
Hope you guys have a wonderful fall & Happy Halloween! 

The Fine Art I've been working on:

My first Iowa landscape painting.


My first Iowa abstract.

Still working on their titles..


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Seven Layer Cookies
(my Paw-Paw's favorite)

My secret to these super-easy & always satisfying treats!

When I found out that we would be having two different companies working on the house today, I decided I better make Grandma Berniece proud and cook up something sweet for our "guests!" Grandma B was known for her hospitality and if you stepped foot on the farm (for any reason, mailman included) you were going to eat something yummy! So my DIY project today was baking!

I knew immediately what I would "throw together," with love of course: Seven Layer Cookies! I'm a decent cook but sweets can be tricky. Lucky for me, and for our guests, even the most beginner baker can make these ooey-gooey Seven Layer Cookies! (Some say, "bars," we say, "cookies"). 

1.Honeymaid Fresh Stacks Graham Crackers 
(I used three of the small individually wrapped packs)

(a couple of tablespoons, melted)

3.Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Chips 
(I used almost a whole bag; a couple of handfuls)

4.Kraft Caramel Bits (large handful)

5.Walnuts (large handful; "chopped"-see my easy to clean up technique)

6.Coconut (large handful.. you get the gist!)

7.Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (1 can)

I've found it to be pretty true that when cooking savory things you can "wing" some recipes, eyeball some measurements, and the outcome can be phenomenal! However, when BAKING, I've always had to stick strictly with the recipe, precise measurements, no "winging" it, and even then sometimes my masterpiece turns out to be a disaster-piece! Seriously, BAKING is chemistry (eeeek!) 

Well, I've got news for yah: my "go-to" dessert recipe is the Seven Layer Cookie and I eyeballed the whole thing! No precise measuring involved! In fact, you can choose different layers to your liking and I'm sure it will come out fantastic.

The Process:

Mom always makes these cookies at Christmas; however, she uses butterscotch where I used caramel bits.

What would you use in your Seven Layer Cookies?