Happy New Year!

Here's wishing you all a happy, crafty and healthy 2012! May the new year bring you much joy - I know I can't wait for the new year and our first child to get here - 11 days and counting! I'm sure he'll give me much inspiration for new craft projects to share with you all. 

(Image source: www.crafts.kaboose.com)


Crafty Christmas Gifts

While I'm taking some time to slow down and get ready for baby - here are a few Christmas gifts that I'll be unwinding with...

I can't wait to use my Babycakes Cupcake Maker now that I have this...

I am feeling creative and ready to get some new projects started with The Big Ass Book of Crafts 2, which I know I will love because I have the first one too!

And finally, something that would have come in very handy while I was slaving away over Homemade Peppermint Patties last week - we finally have a Kitchen Aid!!

What new gifts are keeping you busy this week?

(Less than 2 weeks to baby is keeping us pretty busy too!!)


Happy Holidays from Babycakes Crafts

Babycakes Crafts will be taking a few days off for the Christmas holiday - hope you all enjoy this weekend, no matter how you choose to celebrate!


Holiday Baking Plans

Last year, I went all out with my cookie baking and candy-making but this year, I'm scaling things back just slightly. The two-toned twisty candy cane cookies just aren't happening this year! Here is last years platter of goodies: 

This year, I'll be tackling the chocolate covered Oreos (as seen above), M&M cookies and only one type of chocolate bark (skipping the almond one this year).

If you are interested in making the candy cane cookies, here is a great recipe from The Etiquette Factory Blog. It's described as a "basic sugar cookie with a little something extra" and they freeze well so technically you could make the dough in advance and then cook them right before Christmas. These were always a favorite growing up in my house but I don't think I have the energy to make them considering the M&M cookies almost killed my feet the other night. 

I don't think I need to include the M&M cookie recipe since it's pretty much the same one as the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of Nestle Tollhouse Morsels, except instead of adding chocolate chips, you bake the cookies for 8-9 minutes, take them out and add the M&Ms, then put them back in the oven for another 2-3 minutes. You shouldn't put the candies on until they are mostly done baking or they will melt and look terrible. 

Peppermint candy bark is another really easy but impressive thing to make for the holidays. It's simply 
  • one bag of chocolate chips
  • one bag of white chips
  • crushed up candy canes and 
  • peppermint extract (optional)

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or wax paper, pour the melted chocolate chips to make a thin layer covering the bottom and let it solidify. Then melt the white chocolate chips (adding the peppermint extract for extra flavor) and drizzle all over the top. Then sprinkle your crushed candy canes over the top so that they will harden into the white chocolate. You can also add the candy canes to the white chocolate first if you prefer and make a full second layer. Put the pan in the freezer for about 20 minutes, then remove and break into pieces.

A tip: put candy canes in a thick Ziploc bag and crush them with a meat tenderizer (smooth side). Don't try to put them in any appliances such as a blender, coffee grinder or food processor. 

Finally, making Chocolate Covered Oreos is easy but looks like you spent hours in the kitchen. Using these fun molds from Wilton (only $2):

along with candy making chocolate that you can find in any craft store, you can make these treats for a fraction of the cost of buying them in fancy chocolate shops. I use white chocolate for the designs, so I can color the trees green or the bulbs red and blue. Once the design is filled in (or not - as seen in the plain chocolate Santa above), you just add a thin layer of chocolate, add the cookie, pressing down slightly and then cover the bottom with more chocolate. I was going to skip these this year but my in-laws loved them and I couldn't disappoint!

What kinds of fun, holiday baking do you have planned?


Handmade Christmas Cards

Every year I make a dozen or so handmade Christmas cards to sell as add-ons at my holiday fairs. This year, I made a few extras so that I could send them to family and friends. I have to admit that I don't make too many paper crafts and I bought  a lot of pre-made scrap booking supplies for these particular cards. Here are some of my favorites:

It has taken me about a week to get all these cards ready to go but they will finally be going out in the mail tomorrow. As for today, Bunch and I are hanging at home and enjoying the last free weekend day that we will have before the holiday partying starts next weekend - watching Christmas movies and enjoying our tree. 

Not that things will slow down after the holidays since then the Countdown-to-Baby starts!


How to Make Tile Coasters

Here is a fun project that will make a great gift for the upcoming holiday season! Follow this easy tutorial and in one afternoon, you will have a wonderful gift for neighbors, co-workers, teachers, etc! Or pair with a bottle of liquor or 6-pack of beer for the guy in your life - they are always so hard to buy for :)

Here are my supplies, as seen in the picture: 

  • Tiles - any size, any style (the ones I used are 1x1 inch, already spaced - from Home Depot $4.99, in blue & brown)
  • Tile setting mat - sticky plastic to hold the tile in place
  • Cork board - this should be sturdy, as it will be the base of the coaster
  • Grout - any color, feel free to experiment
  • Float - to spread the grout (these can be found at Home Depot)
  • Sponge - to clean off groat after is has dried 
Not shown:
  • Scissors 
  • Table covering
  • Plastic gloves 

The first step is to determine how big you want your coasters to be. I decided on 4 x 4 rows, cut that and then cut the tile placement mat and cork backing to match. 

Then, with the cork on the bottom, line up the tile sticky mat and place that on top to match, finish by securing the tiles to the top, like this: 

Because we are using the tile placement mat, there is no need to wait between setting the tile and applying grout. For this project, I used a sandstone colored grout. With your gloves on to protect your skin, use your float to start filing in the grids of your coasters. 

After finishing the top, you'll need to go back and carefully fill in the sides with grout as well. This will require some light sanding after you are done.

When I was finished with both sets of 4, it was time to let them dry and rest up!

I made the rookie mistake of leaving the grout on too long but the good news is that it will still come off. The bad news is that the scrubbing required some extra time and elbow grease. 

Here is one of each of the finished coasters.

And finally - the finished product! Replace the pink and blue ribbon that I used with a fun holiday ribbon and stick in a few small ornaments decorations or Christmas flowers instead.


Holiday Decoupage Plates

To follow-up on my decoupage plate tutorial, I wanted to share some holiday plates that I've recently made. 

Classic Poinsettia

Gingerbread Men

Christmas Kitties

Glittery Snowflakes

Christmas Dogs w/ lace trim
(the glitter Modge Podge I used for this one didn't photograph well)

Which holiday plate is your favorite?


From the Archives - Decoupage Fabric Plates

Every so often, I like to post popular tutorials from my archives - here is a full tutorial on how to make decoupage plates, using clear glass plates and cotton fabric. Don't let the Yankees fabric fool you, I am a proud Boston Red Sox fan!
I'll be posting some holiday plates this weekend that I have recently made, to give you some ideas for gifts. These are great for cookie swaps, neighbor or teacher presents also. 

Here's what you will need to complete this project: 

  • Round or square glass plates
  • Cotton fabric, in any design
  • Modge Podge, regular or with glitter
  • Scissors
  • Table covering
  • Paint cans to hold the plates while they dry
  • Matte or gloss clear spray paint

Start by finding some inexpensive glass plates, either at the consignment store or home goods store. Wash them and dry them completely. Next, cut the fabric about 1-2 inches wider than the plate you are using.

Put your first plate face down on a paint can and the piece of fabric face down on the table covering. Cover the back of the fabric with Modge Podge, flip it over carefully and cover the front generously as well. Then, lift the fabric off the table and place the design face down so that the design of the fabric is facing out (see picture). Use additional Modge Podge if necessary.

Use your hands to work out any air bubbles in the fabric, from the center out. Depending on the thickness and texture of the fabric, this may take some time. Move the plate to another paint can to dry thoroughly. Modge Podge goes on white and dries clear so you will be able to tell when it is ready for the next step.

Repeat for as many plates as you have. I made 3 New York Yankees plates, a gray & pink bird plate, which are both in my Etsy Store and a black striped plate, which didn't turn out the way I wanted and was scraped before the final step. Here is a production picture of them drying.

Once dry, carefully trim the excess off with a razor blade so that the edge is flush with the plate. (step not shown

In a well ventilated area, place the plates face down again on the paint cans. Using your clear spray paint, spray the backs of the plates completely. 

Finally, clean off any excess glue or fingerprints on the front with glass cleaner and paper towels. 

When you are all finished, your plates should look like this:

Happy Crafting - feel free to send me a link or picture if you try this project!