Friday, December 30, 2011

Art Supplies!

I'll be writing more later about art-related news, but right now I just want to share some of the goodies I picked up at Michaels today.

michaels-group
The bulk of my haul

First of all, let me just say that Michaels does a weird thing to my sense of time (Hobby Lobby is the same way). It creates some sort of time warp vortex thingy where I manage to spend two hours there and have no idea that I've been wandering the aisles that long. It's freaky. (My friend Laura reminded me that bookstores are the same way - YEP!)

Anyway, I went this morning and entered said time warp wherein I managed to find some pretty great things. Some things I knew were on sale and intended to pick up. Others were total and wonderful surprises.

Canson sketch pads were BOGO, so I picked up a 12" x 18" watercolor pad for $14.99 and got a Mix Media sketchbook for free (normally $9.99). Score. I'm close to the end of the first Mix Media journal and have another waiting in the wings, but they're so nice, I figured it wouldn't hurt to have another. I'm excited to have the heavy weight watercolor paper, too, especially the larger size.

As you can see, I also went crazy in the yarn aisle. 11 packages, to be precise. It was all 40% off, so I stocked up. I've added knitting (of a sort) to my list of creative outlets and I'm completely hooked (har). I'm making neck wraps and people are really liking them, so much so that I'm considering opening a etsy shop. I'll keep you posted!

Next up, watercolor pencils.

watercolor pencils

I already have a set, but I can always use more colors. Plus these were ridiculously cheap. Seriously. They were $4.99 for 24. That's insane. Most run 4x that price. Granted, they're "Artist's Loft" brand which is a ultra cheap line from Michaels, but you can't beat the price, and I've been happy with all of the things I've gotten from that line. I'll be doing a tutorial on a REALLY fun thing you can do with these pencils so stay tuned for that.



watercolor pencil colors

This picture just makes me happy. Look at all of the colors. Dreamy sigh.

I was very excited to find the next item as well. I was looking for water soluble oil pastels, but I saw these wax pastels and figured, "Close enough" especially at $9.99.

wax pastels

In the same section I had my FIND OF THE DAY.

ink pencils

As soon as I realized what these were, I gasped, audibly. (I talk to myself under my breath when I shop as it is, but this was a honest to goodness gasp.) They're ink pencils. "Big whoop" you're probably thinking. Here's the deal. After you draw with these pencils, you add water—like you would with watercolor pencils—but these turn to INK. As in, they're permanent when dry. This is big. Huge, even. What this means is that I can layer over the top of anything I create with these and they won't smear or run. The same can't be said of watercolor pencils unless you spray the page with fixative before adding another layer.

ink pencils-back

ink pencils-bottoms

They had two kinds of packages for these, a 12 count tin and the 24 count one. The 24 count price wasn't marked but I didn't care. I had a coupon for 50% off one regular priced item and THIS was going to be that item. FYI, I just goggled these and found them on Amazon for only $41.10. They were regularly $59.99 at Michaels! I still saved, but not as much as I thought I did. Don't care. I'm still head-over-heels happy about these.

Next I found some stencils for a great price. I'd been wanting some larger ones, but when you look at traditional scrapbook/art stencils, they tend to be a bit spendy for what they are. I got the smaller ones for $3.99 and the large ones for $5.99.

stencils

I picked up a Crafter's Workshop stencil for $4.50 (which was the best price I'd seen) a few weeks ago and love it, but look at the difference in size to the large one from Michaels.

stencil compare

This next item has no right to make me as happy as it does, but I can't help it.

date stamp

It's just a date stamp—something I'd planned on picking up at an office supply store—but this one had cute little sayings with it and it's the same price as the plain boring one I was going to get. It's from a new line by K&Company called Smash. When I saw the products, I thought, "It's like a non-digital version of pinterest." (Clearly I'm addicted to pinterest. It's impossible not to be, not kidding. ) It's a funky scrapbook/journal/lookbook, or as they describe it, "for the moments and musings that stick™." It looks like a really fun line. I probably should have picked up some of their SMASH pads. They're so cute.

And the last on the list that I'm sharing with you are these:

canvases

24" x 30" canvases. The largest I've ever bought and will be the largest art I've ever made. I'll talk about all of this in detail later, but I've signed up for Flora Bowley's Bloom True: the e-course, a five-week painting class. (You might have noticed the button over there on the right). These canvases are equal parts terrifying and exhilarating and I'm so excited to start the course on February 6 and see where it takes me. More later...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordy Wednesday — Christmas Baking

So I did some baking this past weekend. Lots of it. On Saturday, I went to my mom's to bake with her, my sister and my nieces.

3helpers

We had fun and managed to bake a ton of cookies in a fairly short amount of time.

cookies from moms
This was about half of what we made that day.

My mom had made some dough ahead of time and baked the sugar cookies, so between that and the cookies we mixed on the spot, we were the model of efficiency. Fun and productive. Win-win!

cookiepress
Have cookie press. Will travel.

cookiepress2

Quick! Look! They're getting along. Aww...

sisters

Hooray for making cookies - and memories.

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Sunday was all me. I'd also made all my dough ahead. I knew I had too much to do to try and accomplish it all in one or two days, so the weekend prior then a couple of times through the week, I mixed up batches of cookie dough. All that was left was the baking (and cooling and picture taking and packaging...) and it worked out so nicely that I plan to do future epic baking sessions like that as well. No messing with mixing bowls, measuring cups, ingredients everywhere - then having to clean them to repeat the process. Just lining up pans and baking all day. Awesome.

So here's most of what I made. Links for recipes below photos.

almond shortbread-baked

My favorite of the day — Pain d'Amande from Flo Braker (via David Lebovitz). Crispy, nutty, sweet with subtle but noticeable cinnamon. So easy and one of my new favorite cookies. You can keep this dough in the freezer to slice and bake whenever the urge strikes. I love how these looked when the light hit them as I sliced the dough.

almond shortbread-trans

Next up...

molasses ginger cookies

Molasses Ginger cookies from Farmgirl Fare —Big, chewy, super spicy and a close second to the almond cookies. This was the recipe one of my coworkers had to have. They're good. Really good.

Also from Farmgirl Fare...

shortbread bites2

Chocolate chip shortbread cookies — she uses toffee bits, but I didn't have any, so I threw in some cinnamon chips along with the mini chocolate chips. Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth, not too sweet bites of bliss.

On to a pinterest find...

lemon cherry crinkle cookies

Lemon crinkle cookies — I wanted to "holiday" this up a bit, so I added cherry flavored dried cranberries. The texture of these is out of this world — slightly crunchy on the outside, super soft and chewy on the inside. I really liked the cranberries in these, but the lemon was too subtle for my taste. I even aded a bit of lemon extract, but I'd double the lemon next time. Still, these were excellent.

And the final one I'm sharing is the savory one of the bunch (apologies for terrible pic)...

parmesan biscotti

Parmesan-Herb Biscotti — I used this recipe after doing a search for "savory biscotti". I love homemade cheesy crackers, but they don't stay crisp or keep very long, but I knew biscotti held up so I figured there had to be a savory version. The original recipe doesn't call for herbs, but I added some Italian spices along with a pinch of red pepper flakes. A nice little kick to go with the cheese and crunch. I halved the recipe. I did make this from start to finish on Sunday, the only dough mixing of the day.

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I also baked snickerdoodles, but can't recall where I found the recipe, so I didn't bother taking pics. It's just your basic snickerdoodle. I also made Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats that I found at Smitten Kitchen. NOT just your basic treat. So good and so easy. Browned butter makes everything better.

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care package

I packaged everything up and got them ready for gift-giving. I hope you are all having fun with YOUR holiday baking!

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