Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Burda Crafts

This page is from the January 2010 edition of Burda. Here is the caption: "Mouse Trap If the cat's away, the (soft toy) mice will play! You merely have to hand-sew together all these cuddly creatures (from IKEA) to create a comfortable cushion!"
I was truly speechless when I saw it. I have been trying to keep an open mind when it comes to Burda's craft section. Maybe they like stuff like this in Europe. Maybe it goes along with the proliferation of chairs that are strictly for looking at , not sitting on, that pop up in every photo of a European- decorated room I've ever seen.
I am not saying that most American crafts are all that great. Check out the craft section at Wal-Mart - you know what I mean, puffy paint snowmen tote bags, glittery Santa faces that you can buy and sew to your finest sweat shirt, large rhinestones you can put on the back pockets of your jeans (we all want attention focused there!), yards and yards of American flag fabric for only $1.99 a yard, and let's not forget the ever-popular foam visors you can buy and embellish yourself! (Don't even get me started on visors!) In fact, let's face it - there are a lot of crafty but misguided people out there. The main purpose of crafting is to make yourself happy. I may shudder at what you've made, but if you like it and it makes you happy, I won't say a word.
But I have some words for you, Burda. Two words, but they need some explanation.
The first word is UNCOMFORTABLE. Who wants to sit on a cushion made out of a bunch of cheap, lumpy stuffed mice? Sit down in a hurry and get stabbed by a plastic eyeball! Or is this one of those fancy European chairs that is for looking at, not sitting in?
This question brings me to my next word for you, Burda, and that word is: DISTURBING.
A chair covered in stuffed mice is disturbing. Mice are disturbing. (If you want to see grownups scream, send a mouse. They'll be talking about it for days, putting it up on their Facebook, having nightmares about it...) Mice tails are disturbing. Little beady mice eyes are disturbing. If this is one of those "looking" chairs, you are way off the mark. No one wants to look at this!
The new motto for the Burda Craft section should be "Burda Craft - Always Good For A Laugh."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

World's Best Molasses Cookies

I made 4 dozen of these cookies the day before yesterday, as well as a few dozen other kinds. This is all that is left of the molasses cookies. The recipe was given to me by my friend Sandy, who is also my husband's boss at the shelter he works at.
Sandy's cookies, especially the molasses cookies, are legendary. People are thrilled if she gives them a tin full of them as a wedding present. I don't know if it is the large amount of spices in the cookies, or the 3/4 cup of molasses, or the satisfying crunch of the sugar coating, but there is no doubt that these cookies are addicting. Since addicting cookies and Christmas go together, I thought I'd share the recipe here.

Sandy's Molasses Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together in a large bowl until fluffy:

3 sticks butter, softened
2 eggs
3/4 cup molasses, dark if possible
1 3/4 cup dark brown sugar

Whisk together in another bowl:

4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves

Dump the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and mix well. Pour about 1 cup of granulated sugar into a bowl or plate.
With moistened hands, roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll the balls in the sugar, coating completely. Put 12 of the balls onto a cookie sheet, press down slightly on each ball, and bake for 8 - 12 minutes until crackly and slightly underdone. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on cookie racks.
This recipe makes about 48 cookies.


New Kitchen

This is a photo of our old kitchen. We share it with 14 other families. It is about 13 feet by 12 feet, and had a lot of problems. The main problems were lack of counter space and lack of cleanliness. We wanted to redo it, but there are as many definitions of "nice kitchen" as there are families who use the kitchen, and things ground to a halt. Eventually, I got my gumption up and got things moving.

First we ripped everything out, discovering some interesting critters in the process. Let's not linger on this...
Then came time to close the holes and start the beautification process.

A new floor was the biggest and best investment we made. We got this from Tile Outlet and settled on deep red grout. It looks even better in person.

Then we painted, installed much better lighting, put in new stainless steel counters and a new refrigerator and stove. After the photo was taken, we also put in a new range hood.
I helped with the painting and planning, and other people helped when they could, but the lion's share of the work was done by my Canadian neighbor (who only cooks popcorn- go figure). We're hoping to get the backsplash in sometime in January.
Until then, the cookies are rolling in like a Christmas avalanche!
So, maybe I should title my blog "Gen Sews - When She Can."

Decorating for Christmas

We decorated for Christmas last week, and I finally framed this series of prints from an old magazine from the 50's. This one is my favorite. I think it is the way the sky looks striped, and the colors.

This is our 8 1/2 foot tree. It smells wonderful! We let the boys decorate as far up as they can reach, and then I do the top with the fragile ornaments. Last year, my younger son was big into organizing, so he put all of the same ornaments together in stripes. (He was 5 at the time, and we began planning his life as an accountant then.)I made the boys their traditional Christmas jammies out of penguin fabric and put them under the tree until Christmas Eve.

The big box shown here is my super-secret gift, a Kitchenaid stand mixer I've been wanting for a few years now. I can't wait to open it and get cooking!

The best decoration of all, my handsome husband! Behind him are the birthday flowers he bought me yesterday. So, we are ready for the holidays. Once December 26th comes, I'll get back to sewing.