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January 2013

Comfort Food | Baking

Hello lovlies :-)

I haven't posted about baking in a while, since, quite frankly, I haven't done much of it lately.  I baked some cookies for Christmas, but in all honesty, I haven't felt compelled to bake.  Odd, amiright?!  I feel like I dont know me anymore.

Well, last night it snowed, meaning my plans to meet up with friends for happy hour got cancelled, so I thought to myself, "Self.  I think you should maybe use some of the entire banana tree's worth of frozen bananas you have in the freezer."  Now that I think about that, it's kinda sad that I ended up substituting Captain Morgan for baking banana bread.  There is something very, very wrong with this.  Pardon me while I go fix myself a drink....

Ok.  I'm back.  

I've actually been thinking about banana bread ever since I saw a gluten-free recipe posted at King Arthur Flour's website.  

I love KAF.  So much, I took a class there this summer.  I love them even more now.  The baker who developed the recipe I used last night was one of the instructors I had for the class I took.  

The baking started off with these ---


Fun fact: flax meal can be used as an egg replacer.  Mix with water, let it come to a paste, and viola!  Egg replacer!  Full instructions on how to do this are on the back of the flaxmeal box I got from KAF, and I'm sure they're also on the interwebs somewhere, too.

Ok.  So.  Flax meal plus gluten-free all-purpose flour and a bunch of other ingredients, most importantly those frozen bananas that have been hoarding space on my freezer door (and i still have i don't know how many more....ugh....), becomes the most DE.LI.CIOUS batter I've tasted in years. 

No.  I'm serious.  Do you know how godawful most gluten-free batters taste???  It's nothing short of a miracle that what ends up coming out of the oven is in any way palatable.

Moving on.

 Gah.  Seriously.  This batter is insanely delicious.  I was licking the bowl.  Embarrasingly enough...that's not a joke....


For all you gluten-free bakers out there, the pan I used for this bread is not your regular run-of-the-mill 9x5 in loaf pan.  If you've made gluten-free quick breads before, you know they don't behave like those gluten-filled ones.  This pan was a Christmas gift, and is made by my favorite people, KAF, and is slightly shorter in length which allows the bread to rise higher and keep its form.

Mkay.  So, that bad boy went into the oven for about 55 min...and came out looking like this --

Holy hell.  Might be the most moist gluten-free banana bread I've ever made.  Ever.  See those white specks? Unsweetened coconut, my friends.  Unsweetened coconut.

Now, have you ever had this?


As many people can attest, I loathe hazelnut.  The thought of it kinda makes me wanna vom.  Hazelnut coffee?!  Gag me with a fork.  Yet, for some reason, I was compelled to taste nutella one day (i blame the packaging - it looks so inviting, and it says there's cocoa in it...), and I would swear to you there's a secret ingredient not listed on the nutrition panel, that just makes it so friggin addictive you can't.stop.eating.  I contend it's either crack cocaine or black tar heroin.

Anyone else agree?  No?  No one??  (sigh....)

Moving on, then....


I took the crack-filled hazelnut-cocoa spread....I mean.....nutella....and spread it over a particularly thick piece of bread, so thick I really did need that fork.....

....and inhaled it.  So.damn.good.

Wipe off the drool from your keyboard.  It really is THAT good....but let's not make a mess at our computers.

Want the recipe?!  Of course you do!!!  This is the link for the recipe over at KAF's website.  I substituted coconut oil for the vegetable oil, and used dark brown sugar, but other than that, I made no alterations.  

Friggin amazeballs.  Thank you, Amy!!  This is DEFINITELY going to be the only gluten-free banana bread I make from now on!!!!

Alright bakers...what will you be baking this weekend???



Reblog: Make Something...Anything!

You've probably noticed that making things is a big part of what we do here at A Beautiful Mess. We make food, decorations, clothes, gifts, crafts, art, mistakes, blog posts and everything in between. We love a good project. And we love learning and experimenting every single day. You might think that it's a quirk or gimmick or just a trend we're stuck on. But it's not. As corny as it may sound, making is the only way of life we really understand. And, oddly enough, it's turned into our career over time.

Why make something? (especially if you could just as easily buy it) Why learn to cook something if you can just eat out? Why sew curtains when you could purchase them from Target or IKEA or (fill in the blank)? Because making can be just as fulfilling as it is functional. Please don't hear me wrong. I'm not saying you should make everything (we buy things all the time). I'm just saying you should make something. Here are a few reasons why:1. Making encourages creativity. Maybe you don't think of yourself as a creative person. It's okay, but I gotta say, I think you're wrong. Creativity isn't just about our traditional idea of art or artists. Creativity is used by scientists, chefs, politicians, business people, etc. It's all about problem solving skills. We make crafts and bake cupcakes, sure, but we also use our creativity to solve business problems we face. Our habit of making has helped us change "I can't..." into "what if..." so many times over the years. We are SO thankful to our mother for encouraging us to be creative our whole lives.

I HAD to share - this is a post from a blog I follow called "A Beautiful Mess". This post speaks directly to what I try to promote through my blog: CREATE. It doesn't matter what, just make something! Please click on over to see what the girls at A Beautiful Mess have to say about making something...anything!!

Happy Weekend! | Cross Stitch

Hello all my lovely followers :-)

We have a wave of spring coming in this weekend (it's supposed to be almost 60 degrees today! WTH?!), but I'm still working feverishly on my Quaker Christmas piece.  

I told you I can't put it down.  Yeah, I know it's January & no longer the Christmas season.  Whatevs.  Don't judge.

But it's so pretty I needed to share some real WIP pics, and not the ones that get kinda discolored when I try to take a pic with my phone & post to Instagram.  Ahem.

I almost had to stand on a chair to get the full WIP in here.  This thing is going to be gihugic, peeps.  For realzies.

Keep in mind...this baby is on 40 ct.  Superdeduper teeny tiny stitches.  

I must be smoking crack.

I love that lil' ship.  There will be two more...


I think it's turning out pretty daggone sweet...and I'm totally loving the red & green with the fabric color I chose (ps - i updated the floss & fabric page to reflect the fabric i used for this).

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend :-)  Go forth and stitch :-)


Don't ask why it took so long for me to notice...but I realized that my "follow me" module wasn't on my sidebar. Hopefully this will make it easier for those of you who stop by to sign up & get regular updates when my new posts hit the lovely Internet waves!!

A Few Notes | Cardmaking

I was talking to my good friend Sue R. not long ago about scrapbooking, and how that 12x12 page can be totally overwhelming.  Like, totally overwhelming.  It doesn't seem like a lot of space, but sometimes it's WAYYY too much.  This is one of the many reasons I love cardmaking - the size is less daunting, and it's easier to put a few embellies and your sentiment and be done!  

The main reason I love making cards is because it's a) something people don't really receive anymore - cards, with actual handwritten notes on the inside, and b) totally personal, coming from your heart to the person/people receiving your specially made card.

I've said in the past that all my Christmas cards that I make each year are totally unique.  Well, it's not just my Christmas cards that are unique - my thank you notes are the same way.  

With the exception of last year, when I made these --


- I always try to make each card different.

Since Christmas just passed (ok...not was 2 weeks ago....), I decided it was high time I started making my thank you notes to send out.

I won't give them all away - I haven't mailed any of them out yet - but here are  a couple of my favorites so far - 

Lovvveee that ampersand :-)

I'm not normally a fan of really bright colors, but I loved this paper & embellishment pack from Amy Tangerine's Sketchbook line.   The stamp I used on the "guest check" is from a Kelly Purkey set that I just love.  She has some of the greatest stamp designs out there.

Ohhhh I love those little flags!!!  They, along with the butterfly, are from Basic Grey's Fact & Fiction line.  The stamp sentiment is from Tim Holtz/Stampers Anonymous.


And lastly, on the back, this pretty little stamp from Kelly Purkey tells the recipient I handmade it just for them :-)

That wraps it up!  These smaller surface areas are much easier for this ca-ray-zy girl to handle and not be overwhelmed ("I know you can be overwhelmed....and you can be underwhelmed....but can you ever just be...whelmed??" love that movie!) by all that empty space in a 12x12 layout.  4x6 cards are much more manageable :-)

Until next time, my friends....go forth and be crafty :-)


Dedecorating Day | Cross stitch

Is that even a word?  To dedecorate?  Saying "taking down the decorations" just seems excessive.  I like dedecorate, and the auto spell check didn't catch it which clearly means it's an actual word, so I'm using it from here on out.  So there.

The Feast of the Epiphany is always a sad day.  Not really...I mean, the Wise Men made it to the manger and's about the fact that my Christmas decorations come down after the Ephiphany.   {Although, I have been known to keep them up through January...out of pure laziness....}  So, so sad.

Now, even though it was very sad to take this lovely piece down -

...this piece goes up in her place --

This, my friends, is Sabrina.  Of all of the things I've actually made for myself (which is almost nothing compared to what I've given away), this is my favorite piece.  As soon as I saw this in the shop, I knew I had to have her, and begin stitching immediately.  Mirabilia designs are one of my absolute favorite, and by looking at this piece, I'm sure you can see why.  They're heavily labor intensive, but the work is totally worth it.


I mean, honestly.  That dress.  I want it.  The way the flowers  just drop so slightly from her grasp.  Stunning.


{sigh} Look at the detail on this dress.  For serious.  All those flowers & vines are beads.  The insides of those flowers are filled in with Kreinik thread (yet another one of my stitching mortal enemies, but sometimes, ya just gotta muscle through it; otherwise, the finished piece doesn't have the right effect), and each have a Mill Hill treasure in the center.


(above) A closer look at those beads.....


Like I said, where it's always sad to take down "A Royal Holiday", putting "Sabrina" up in her place, where she'll remain all year (until I get crazy brave enough to start one of the seasonal queens....maybe after i finally finish my sis's wedding gift....moving on....) is a total bonus.  Love her.

Much of the roses, and the leaves are stitched with Caron Waterlilies, which I highly recommend using, rather than doing a DMC conversion.  The silk for the leaves is actually a purple to green dyed silk, which is next to impossible to replicate with DMC, unless you want to switch your colors all the time.  I'll pass, thankyouverymuch.  So, although they're pricier, if you've committed to doing a piece of this magnitude, you should use the silks for the flowers & leaves.  That's how I look at it, anyway.

The fabric I chose for this is 32 count French Lace.  It's a very, very light green, which complemented the greens and blues of her dress perfectly.

I think the biggest reason why I love this piece is because she reminds me of Grace Kelly.  I LOVE Grace Kelly.  Since I can't be her or ever meet her, this is the closest thing to imagining what she'd look like in person, with a long, elegant dress on.  She actually wears a very similar dress in "To Catch a Thief", which makes me wonder if that was Nora's inspiration for this piece...

Until next time, my lovely friends...stitch and be merry :-)


Happy New Year 2013!

Just wanted to wish all you fabulous people out there in bloggerland a happy, healthy, and  prosperous new year!!!

I love sharing, inspiring, and being inspired by all the wonderfully creative people I follow, and I can only hope I do the same for those of you who stop on by my little piece of bloggerville :-)

Every NYE and day, I always marvel in how quickly time passes during the 7 days between Christmas & New Year's -- this was a mere week ago, at my grandmother's house --

These are all the gifts for everyone in my family, before we distributed them all and began the opening frenzy.  We've had some ups & downs this year, but we still had a wonderful time on Christmas, and 2013 will bring new memories and joys, I'm sure of it.

From that glittering, sparkling tree, we go to the pagentry of sequins and feathers...otherwise known as The Mummer's Parade.  For non-Philly natives, you don't know what you're missing.  

Some snips of the fabulousness from parades past --

Mummers i
I mean, come on. This is amazeballs.  That man is marching with an upright bass.  AN UPRIGHT BASS.  Love.

OK!! Those feathers! And that pink! Could you just die?!
I have no words for how awesome this is.

Men dressed in drag, playing instruments, strutting down Broad Street all the way to City Hall??  What more could anyone ask for?!

Happy New Year, everyone, and I'll see you all on 2 Street for the after-party ;-)


 (Note:  I don't remember the names of the original sites where I got the Mummers pics from, so please forgive me.  I Googled "Mummers Parade" in Google images, found a wealth of feathers & sequins, and picked these.)