Friday, December 30, 2011

New prize format for PCAGOE challenge

One of 19 possible prizes
If you've visited this blog for any length of time you know that just about every month I enter a challenge as a member of the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy. The first week of each month we open the challenge up for voting by the public (YOU).

We hold a drawing after the challenge and select 3 winners to get a prize created by one of the PCAGOE artists. In January, we are mixing up this formula a little bit.

New prize format: You choose your prize
We have 19 participating shops offering prizes ranging from custom creations to gift certificates and the 3 winners will get to choose their own prize.

The photo above is the prize that I am sponsoring. A winner who chooses my prize can have this pin made in the color scheme of her choice. See the full list of prizes.

Don't forget to visit between Jan. 1-7 to vote.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Season's Eatings

Tis the season to eat! It is also the season of too much to do and too little time. So while I am trying to get myself ready for the holidays, I thought I would whet your appetite with some of my favorite easy recipe from posts past and one item from a friend that I haven't been brave enough to try.

First, the item I haven't tried yet:

Lime Cottage Cheese Mold
  • 2 small or 1 lg. pkg. Lime Jello
  • 1 lb. cottage cheese, mashed with fork
  • 2 c. boiling water
  • ½ c. salad dressing (Miracle Whip)
  • ½ c. whipped cream
  • 1 Tbl. Chopped onion
  • 2 Tbl. Grated carrot
  • 2 Tbl. Grated green peppers
Mix all ingredients except whipped cream. Let jell for about 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Remove and gently fold in whipped cream, and refrigerate until jelled. Nice when made in a pretty Jello mold – Tupperware has a good one for this purpose.
This one comes from Jackie of The Pleasant Pheasant who I met through the Polymer Clay Artist Guild of Etsy. She admits that it is a "love it" or "hate it" family tradition. I'm curious! Maybe I'll get brave and take it to my sister's house for Christmas. :)

Now for some memories from Creative Sprinkle posts past:

 Insanely Simple Fudge
Only 3 ingredients!
Get this simple fudge recipe.

Sea Glass Candy
Great eye-candy that taste good too!
Make your own sea glass candy.

Gluten Free Glazed Triple Chocolate Cupcakes
Taste wonderful even if you don't have to avoid gluten!
Whip up a batch with this recipe.

Monday, December 5, 2011

DIY Fortune Cookie Gifts

Creating Personalized Fortune Cookies for Coworkers
"Easy Fortune Cookie Recipe"  -- That's what the Google search result promised me a few years ago. At the time, I was working as part of an in-house creative team at Penn State, and I needed a Christmas gift idea to make for 25 coworkers that was personal enough yet could be created in large quantities.

Yes, the recipe was easy. I used a basic recipe substituting almond flavoring for vanilla. It was the folding process that would have been more aptly labelled "frustrating." It took me three batches to get cookies that looked good.

Yet even with the frustration, they made such adorable gifts that I want to share the idea with you along with my thoughts on avoiding some pitfalls.

Writing the Fortunes
The fun part of the project was coming up with "fortunes" that fit each recipient's personality. These served as both holiday gifts and a thank you for the hard work that our team had put in that year. I researched fortunes online and tweaked them to fit our work situation. Here are a few examples.

For our exuberant production manager adjusting to our new office space:
Trish, You where born with the skill to communicate easily with people. 
That’s why Outreach seated you between introverts.

For our writer with a love of all things Seinfeld:
The number of items on a to-do list will either grow or 
remain constant. If only you could close the Penske file.

Creating Gift Tags
I also created custom gift tags using a fortune cookie stamped in silver embossing powder on card stock. I cut a slit in the stamped cookie to add each person's name on a tag and glued the whole thing to a larger card stock square to hide the back. (See photo above.)

Photo by Madison Faith author of Milk & Honey
Things I wish I knew before I started:

1. Cotton gloves aren't just "nice-to-have."
I didn't follow the advice I read on one site to purchase some lightweight, white cotton gloves, and my scorched fingers regretted it. You have to touch hot cookie rounds, over and over, to fold them into the signature shape.

2. Practice makes perfect. 
You can only make a few cookies at a time because there is a perfect temperature to fold them. Too hot and you can't touch them (see tip 1). Too cool and they crack. It took me three batches and a lot of cursing to figure out the "sweet spot" folding temperature.

3. Once the fortune is inside the cookie you can't read it anymore. 
If you are creating a specific fortune for a specific person, you have to make sure you know which cookie to give. Once I realized I couldn't see which fortune I had used inside the folded cookie, I created an assembly line process to organize them.  I placed each folded cookie on a tray beside the paper tag for that person so when I was ready to wrap the cookies, I knew whose cookie it was.

About the bottom photo: I didn't take any photos of my finished project, but this one by Madison Faith sums up the project pretty well. Madison writes a blog called Milk & Honey which has some of the most gorgeous food photography that I have ever seen.

Do you have good luck baking fortune cookies? What's your secret?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Challenge: Vote to Win

Artist Trading Cards

The Polymer Clay Artist Guild of Etsy December Challenge is open for public voting now until Dec. 7. This month's theme is Artist Trading Cards. In the tradition of ATCs, these babies aren't for sale. They are only traded from one artist to another. But don't despair, you could win a hand-crafted polymer goodie just for voting in our challenge. Head on over to PCAGOE to vote!

By the way, my entry is #2, "Angelic Dreams ATC."

It showcases a few of my favorite techniques. The angel was created using layers of liquid polymer on paper to create a canvas-like texture. I then placed it on a mokume gane background and hand-sculpted polymer wings in an unconventional gold and turquoise combo. The frame is clay that resembles torn paper.

Don't know which PCAGOE member is going to receive this sweetie yet, but after the holidays she will be heading off to her new home.


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