December 22, 2012

Cute Christmas Cookies (recipes and tutorial)

 I spent a day in my pajamas making these Christmas cookies, and I love how they turned out!  A while back, I tried making flow icing cookies and they looked o.k., but tasted not so great.  I used a different recipe this time , and they were delicious!  The flow icing technique is time consuming, but really fun!

 First, make the cookies using this recipe:

You don't need to refrigerate the dough for hours like it says, because you can use this cool trick...
 Roll out a circle of dough 1/4 in. thick between two sheets of wax paper and refrigerate for about 10-15 min.  Cut out cookies and bake.  I kept rotating new discs of dough to and from the fridge, and it went swimmingly.  This recipe is great because the cookies turn out smooth and flat for decorating.
Now the fun part!  I modified a recipe I found online to work a little better than the original.  Here it is...
Royal Icing

4 TBSP meringue powder
1 cup water (not quite filled to the top)
1 lb. powdered sugar
2 tsp. light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine meringue powder and water.  Sift in powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add extract and corn syrup and mix on high for about 5 min.  It is ready when a stiff peak forms when lifting the beater out of the icing.  Color with gel food coloring if desired.  Put in squeeze bottle or pastry bag and use for outlining cookies.  The outline acts as a dam for the thinner icing you will use to "flood" the cookie. For filling in or flooding cookies, thin the icing with water a TBSP. at a time until it's the consistency of syrup.  A good test is to drizzle some from a spoon into the bowl of icing and it should  disappear in about 3 seconds.  Flood cookies and use a toothpick to help spread the icing. 

You can add decoration with another color of thinned flood icing.  If you decorate while the base color is still wet, you will get a smooth, flat finish like these.  If you prefer raised pattern, wait a few hours for the base to dry, then apply the details with the second color.  

Let the iced cookies dry overnight, or for several hours.  Once dry, they can be stacked without messing up the design.  This makes them easy to transport to parties, etc.  

Now EAT one or some because they are sooooooooooooooooooo yummy!

December 11, 2012

Shopping Tip

Just thought I'd share this fun little shopping tip I saw on a friend's blog since I can totally picture all of us doing this.  She says:

JCP's Christmas Buttons. Here's what you do: Go to every JCP cash register possible and ask for Christmas buttons. It's basically as awesome as trick-or-treating because at each register they give you 2 to a handful of adorable Christmas pins with a code on the back where you go online to enter for a chance win gift cards and other prizes. You can enter 2 per person a day and it's kind of fun and addicting because we've already won $70 dollars in gift cards in just two days!

I will say that I tried this and found that people here in California are far more stingy--no handfuls for me. But so far I've got $15 so it's worth a shot (plus now I have a bunch of cute pins that I don't know what to do with)! Also try to go at a time that's not very busy, because it's pretty awkward to stand in a line of people making actual purchases just to ask for some free buttons. Let me know how it goes!

December 4, 2012

Easiest Skirt EVER

One time I found this awkward-fitting, stretchy dress at a thrift store.

Then I chopped off the top 4 inches and had a new skirt.

Then I remembered that tight, horizontal stripes are not for the pear-shaped (hence the long sweater). But for those of you narrow-hipped ladies who probably have not yet given birth, go for it! 

P.s. If you don't happen to have a stretchy dress lying around, you could easily make this by tracing a pencil skirt you already have onto 2 layers of stretchy fabric and sewing up the sides. 

November 11, 2012

Thank You Card Printable

Happy November!! To me, Thanksgiving means giving a lot of thank you cards.  Here is one I made recently:

It's a mini card (about 2.5 inches across and 3.5 inches tall)  the perfect size for attaching to a treat.  Copy and paste it into word (you can fit four to a page), and print on card-stock. 

November 7, 2012

Tea Staining: From White to Ivory

 I have been on the hunt for little boys ivory colored dress shirts for a while now.  I usually dash down to the neighborhood Burlington and have no problem finding a rainbow of dress shirts in little boys sizes. After a couple trips and some digging I did find Landon (sz 4) an ivory dress shirt.  As for Crew, I can not find a size 18M ivory dress shirt ANYWHERE! I even forced Sam to look in every store at AZ Mills with me and had no luck. There are quite a few options online, if you can stomach spending $20 on a shirt for toddlers...
So being the cheap soul that I am, I took a tip from Mrs. Forrester ( I hope you've all seen Cranford) and decided to "improve the color" on my own.

Here's what you need:

Fabric to be dyed
Lipton Tea (amount depends on the depth of color you are trying to achieve)
Stock Pot
Wooden spoon


1. Fill a large stock pot with 20 cups of water.
2. Place the fabric to be stained in a large pot and fill with water, making sure the fabric is completely covered with a bit to spare. If needed add more water.
3. Remove the fabric and squeeze as much of the water out as possible (back into the pot.) Set fabric aside.
4.Bring the water to a boil, then turn off heat.
5. For 20 cups I used 4 teabags. A very "safe" ratio is 1 tea bag to 5 cups water. If you want a darker ivory or tan color use more tea. Add the tea bags to the hot water and allow to steep for about 3 minutes.

6. Remove the tea bags.
7. IMPORTANT! Let the tea sit until warm or you will burn your hands wringing out the fabric!
8. Place the fabric to be stained into the tea. Stir around to make sure the tea gets into all the folds and pockets of the fabric.

9. Allow to sit for a minimum of five minutes. The longer it remains in the tea, the darker the stain will be. Check periodically on the color, keeping in mind that it will lighten as it dries.
10. Wring out the fabric well, then rinse in cold water to remove excess acids from the tea.
11. Rinse well with vinegar, to set the dye in the fabric. The vinegar can be used straight, or diluted up to one part in ten in water for larger pieces where using so much straight vinegar would be cost prohibitive.

12. Use a dryer to dry the fabric.
13. Wash thoroughly as normal, to remove any remaining tea and vinegar.

I promise there is a difference, it just isn't drastic. You can play around with your recipe/sitting time to achieve whatever hue you want!
And there you have it. I've read that as long as you set the fabric with vinegar you can wash as normal and it shouldn't fade. Just to be safe, don't wash it with other whites the first few times you wash it.

November 2, 2012

Rescued Skirt and Necklace

Before you throw something away that appears unusable, think outside the box, and you may be able to prolong the life of whatever you were going to get rid of. 
 Example #1 is a dress with a high waist that had gotten too short for my daughter (rather, she had gotten too tall).  She loved it and was sad to think of giving it away, so she became resourceful and cut off the top of the dress above the elastic waist, folded the raw edge under, and with no sewing, it became a skirt that is plenty long for her!  I'm proud of her for the genius idea and grateful that she's saving me money by wearing it longer!
 Example #2 is a necklace who's beads were chipping and peeling and therefore looking very shoddy.  I was ready to toss it when I had an idea: paint over the chipped areas with matching nail polish!  It's good as new now, and I don't have to run out and buy another red necklace.

October 28, 2012

Naan naan naan naan na-nah (gettin jiggy with it)

My husband and I love to make curry.  It's quick, and easy and soooooooo good.  We get curry paste (I like red best) from the Asian Market, and follow the instructions on the back.  Generally, its a tablespoon or two of paste, mixed with a can of coconut milk, veggies.  If we feel like adding chicken, we cook it in some coconut milk in a sauce-pan before adding it to the curry.

Now- nothing pairs with curry quite like Naan.  Naan is like a middle eastern tortilla.  It's awesome, but until now, I have had a horrible time finding a recipe that is on par with the naan I've had in restaurants.    I found this recipe on Pinterest from The Café Sucre Farine, and it does not disappoint.  The only thing I did differently was mix the herbs into the dough right before cooking, rather than brush them on.  Another tip- make sure you get the dough really thin before you cook it, so there aren't' any doughy spots.

Herbed Naan
from: the Café Sucre Farine 

2¾ cups hot water, 110-115˚F
1½ tablespoons granulated yeast
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
6½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Ingredients for the naan:
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped fresh herbs, I like to use 1/2 cilantro and 1/2 Italian parsley, but other herbs would also be good*
sea salt

Directions for the dough
1. Mix the water, yeast and sugar in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container. Stir and let sit till yeast is bubbly. Stir in olive oil and sea salt.

2. Mix in the flour with a large wooden spoon or a heavy duty large whisk till all flour is incorporated.

3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and colapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 3-4 days.

Directions for the naan:
1. Combine oil and herbs in a small bowl.

2. When you're ready to make the naans, remove dough from refrigerator. Liberally sprinkle flour on a work surface. With a large spoon, scoop up 10 lumps of dough about the size of a small apple. Refrigerate remaining dough for another use (check these out).

3. Roll dough balls in flour to coat all surfaces, then flatten each with the palm of your hand. With a rolling pin, roll dough into circles (don't worry, they don't have to be precise circles, real naans aren't supposed to be perfectly round) about 8 inches in diameter. Keep work surface well dusted with flour to prevent sticking. Stack rolled dough circles on a platter, separating them with parchment or waxed paper.

4. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Coat surface lightly with olive oil. Place one dough circle in heat pan. Brush top surface with herb/oil mixture. If bubbles begin to form in dough just flatten them with your brush. This will give your finished naan lots of interesting texture. Continue cooking until bottom side is a light golden brown.

5. Flip naan to other side and brush top side lightly with herb/oil mixture. Continue to cook until second side is light golden brown, then flip one more time and cook for another 20 to 30 seconds. Remove naan to a plate and sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat process with other dough circles, stacking them on a plate, separating each one with paper towels.

October 27, 2012

baby junk

Just a quick idea for if you know anyone having a baby girl. I made this little skirt and headband for my friend when she had her baby  (and may or may not have used my baby boy as a manikin).

I could make a tutorial, but I'm guessing there are about 2.3 million tutorials out there for a little elastic waistband skirt. I am going to add a listing for these customizable little gift sets in my sad, abandoned etsy shop. Hurry, go get one!

October 16, 2012

Faux Collar Tee

After agreeing to share her awesome tutorial, An from StraightGrain was nice enough to let us return the favor! Go check it out for a really easy way to dress up a simple tee!

October 10, 2012

Ice Cream Cone Cake Balls

Despite his face, these really were enjoyed by all!
I love cake balls and was looking for a cute way to decorate them, without having to be extremely talented... or patient. 
I was afraid the mini cones would be a nightmare to find, but they are conveniently located at my (and probably your) local Walmart.

Here's what you need:
1 pack Mini Ice Cream Cones
1 Cake Mix (any flavor)
1 Container of Frosting (i always use Cream Cheese flavor, but i hear any flavor will work)
1 package Candy Melts or Almond Bark (only use GEL food coloring if you plan to color your Almond Bark)
Any "Toppings" to decorate your "ice creams". I used sprinkles, melted milk choc chips, and mini M&M's.

1. Bake the cake according to instructions on box. Allow to cool completely.
2. Crumble cake into large bowl. I don't like mashing food with my hands... So, I break the cake into the bowl in large chunks then use my hand mixer to pulverize the cake into crumbs.
3. Add an entire container of frosting to the cake crumbs and mix until combined. I also use the hand mixer for this, although some prefer using their hands.

4. Scoop 1" balls onto cookie sheet. A cookie scoop is VERY useful for this step. Roll balls to create a more uniform/smooth ball.
5. Place cookie sheet in freezer for an hour, or until firm.
6. Melt candy melts in microwave for 30 sec increments until completely melted. DO NOT OVER HEAT!
7. Remove from fridge and press a ball into a mini cone just enough for it to stay put.
8. Dip into candy melts making sure to dip the upper part of the cone. This will help "cement" the ball to the cone once the candy melts harden.
9. Add sprinkles, mini M&M's, or any other toppings before the candy melts harden, this will "cement" the toppings to the ball.
10. Store in fridge until candy melt coating is hard, then serve!

October 8, 2012

Guest Post from StraightGrain

Today we have a really great guest post! I came upon An's blog a little while ago and quickly fell in love with her beautiful sewing creations and darling little girl. Go take a look, and be prepared to be amazed (and wish you had a daughter to sew pretty things for). Thanks, An! 

Hi everyone, I’m An from StraightGrain, and I’m so happy to be able to share a tutorial here at the Sisterhood! This tutorial will show you how to turn regular raglan sleeves into the ones you see in the pictures below. It’s a really simple technique, but the finished result looks quite complicated to people who don’t sew themselves, so you should get a lot of "ooh"s and "aah"s when you show them the finished dress. Let’s all agree here and now that we will never admit that it’s actually pretty easy, okay?


The technique I use to create the sleeves is one which is often used in duvet covers and cushion covers: twisted pintucking. Mie of You and Mie also recently used it for her faboulous breezy top.

What you start from, is an existing pattern with simple raglan sleeves (could be a dress, or a tunic). There are many tutorials for raglan sleeve dresses which have elastic in the collar, which gathers the fabric. This will not combine well with the pintucks. However, you can use such a pattern, and make the collar smaller by putting pleats in it, instead of an elastic (as I did here, for example).

Okay, now let’s get started!

1. Cut out a piece of fabric that is a few centimeters broader than your sleeve pattern, and (almost) three times as long.

2. Now, we’ll make the pleats. I used pleats of about 1 cm (0.4 inch), but you can use whatever width you like. Just a tip: if you use striped or gingham fabric, you might want to rely on the print of the fabric rather than on your ruler – it makes things even easier. As you might have already noticed, I also used a fabric with lines.

Start by making the marks at the edges of the fabric. Fold your fabric with the wrong sides together, matching up every first and third mark. Stitch. The third picture below shows what the pleats should look like. Iron the pleats down.

IMPORTANT: Make sure that you don’t make too many pleats! At the top (the shoulder), you should have enough space to finish the seam (e.g., to double fold inwards, or to put on bias, depending on the pattern you use) PLUS space for folding up the first of your pleat (see the pic step 4 if you don’t know what I mean). So, for instance, if you plan to use 1 cm of bias to finish the collar, and you made pleats of 1 cm, your first pleat should stay at least 2 cm from the edge.
At the other end of the sleeve (the bottom) you should also leave enough space for finishing the seam.

3. Pin your pattern carefully, and cut out your sleeves. Run some stitches near the edges of the sleeves, so that the pleats will stay in place in the next steps.

4. Now comes the fun part: find the middle of your sleeve by folding it in half, and press with your fingers. This will create a helpful little crease. Next, lift all the pleats upward, and pin. Finally, stitch a straight line from bottom to top on the crease you created.

5. Your origami sleeve is ready! Now you just have to assemble the dress or top as you would usually do.

I hope you will enjoy making the sleeves as much as I did. Thank you so much for having me, crafty sisters!

October 6, 2012

eye love boo!

One perk of being an art teacher, is that I have instant access to art supplies. During my lunch break, I created this little Halloween-themed love note for my husband. I used crayola watercolors, and a scrap of watercolor paper. Pretty simple.
You can do a lot with a basic set of watercolors! I love keeping a stack of blank note-cards in my desk so I can make personalized birthday and thank you cards for coworkers and parents. If you are just starting, you don't need to splurge on expensive kits and pallets. I suggest buying a cheap brand (like Reeves from Hobby Lobby) to start off with. This way, when you mess up, you won't feel like you wasted a lot of money. It's a good idea to invest in good brushes. They can get pretty expensive, but they make a big difference and will last if you take good care of them. I'll post some simple watercolor tutorials soon.

October 4, 2012

Homemade Halloween Roundup

This family doesn't mess around when it comes to Halloween costumes. It may have something to do with the fact that throughout our childhood and adolescence you could catch one or all of us in costume on any given day (dance recitals, plays, homemade music videos, or just because going to high school is much more fun dressed as a mermaid..Bethany). Whatever the reason, we take it pretty seriously and would never go out and buy any old costume. They must be made from scratch or scrounged up at the last minute from things around the house.

So,without further ado, I present some Smith Family Halloween costumes from the last few years... (I apologize for bad photo quality)


Freddie Mercury and David Bowie- curated and created by Bethany

Bo Peep and Woody from "Toy Story"- made by my sister-in-law

Pee Wee Herman and Jambi the Genie- Created and assembled by Erica

A gold digger- put together by Kami

Nerd alert! Pieces from "Settlers of Catan"- made by EmmaLee

A surgeon and his patient- intestines designed and sewed by Bethany

Nintendo Peach and Mario- made by my sister-in-law

Bob Ross and his "happy little trees" masterpiece- made and put together by EmmaLee

Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon (please tell me other children loved anime as much as we did)- made by yours truly

Edwina and H.I. from "Raising Arizona- put together by EmmaLee

Where's Waldo?  Assembled by Richard and Erica


Cindy Loo Who (book version) with Christmas ornament candy bucket- made by EmmaLee

Buddy the Elf from "Elf"- made by Amy

Cheeseburger- made by EmmaLee

Pizza- made by EmmaLee

Cruella Deville- Made by EmmaLee

Link from "Zelda"- made by Lari (our mom)


"Star Wars" characters- made by Amy

Ghost Busters and the Stay Puft Marshmallow - made by Amy

Hopefully this will inspire some brilliant homemade costumes! If you want to know more about how any of these costumes were made or have a great homemade costume you'd like to share, let us know at