Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

me hearty eye patch tutorial

"I only have eye for you" pirate valentine

me hearty eye patch tutorial

I was going to make super hero heart masks for all the kids in my daughter’s class (like this fantastic one), but they were fussy and each one was taking way too long. My daughter and I came up with the eye patch idea together. An hour later I had whipped up 17 of them. Super fast, super easy, good for girls and boys (and grown ups too), and not full of sugar. Eye patches arrrrgh the best!


  • felt, 2 3in squares per patch
  • 1/8in wide elastic, 16-18in piece per patch
  • straight edge

heart eye patch tutorial

1. Cut two 3in squares of felt for each eye patch you are making. Then cut a heart from one out of each two squares: if you are making 5 eye patches, you started with 10 squares and now will have 5 hearts and 5 squares.

heart eye patch tutorial

2. Take a heart and place a straight edge (I used an envelope) across the middle. Then tilt the edge 1/4 inch up on one side and 1/4 inch down on the other. Make a tiny mark on each edge. This is where the elastic will be attached to the patch. Really you only need to mark 2 or 3hearts. After that you can just eyeball it (ha!). No really.

heart eye patch tutorial

3. Place the marked heart on top of a felt square. Cut a piece of elastic so it’s 16-18 inches, smaller for smaller people bigger for bigger people.  Sew 1/8 inch from the edge all around the heart, inserting the elastic where indicated.

heart eye patch tutorial

4. Trim away excess felt, holding the elastic as you cut (so it doesn’t get cut, silly).

heart eye patch tutorial

5. That’s it! No go make 20 more because Valentine’s day is tomorrow! Here are a few awful pirate puns you can use:

Will you be my matey?

You arrrrgh my Valentine!

I want to capture you, Valentine!

Yarrrr the best!

I treasure you!

I’d walk the plank for you!

Ahoy, me hearrrrty

pirate valentine

christmas cookies 2011

christmas cookies

The cookie baking blizzard came and went this year already (and weirdly, left no snow). All the butter! All the cream! All the chocolate! All the nuts and dried fruit! Okay, so the last one isn’t so exciting, but there was a lot of fruit and nuts in this house for a while. Panforte, anyone?

I don’t think I made any new recipes this year, which is odd.  No wait, I made one new recipe, but I can’t tell you because there are some of you out there getting it! Oh and the linzer cookies were new to me, but not terribly exciting. I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are the deets:

christmas cookies

caramels: three kinds, all by martha, gingerbread, chocolate, and plain with sea salt on top

sugar plums: Honestly, I make these mostly because of the name. How could you pass up sugar plums at Christmas? These are spice filled, honey sweetened, date and almond laden-ed bits of christmas past. And they are vegan to boot.

hazelnut thumbprints: My daughter and I like these the best. This year I put a bit of ganache in the middle instead of the usual jam. Surprisingly, the jam is better, but no one has complained about the chocolate.

english toffee: I make this every christmas, but this year I got all fancy and cut it in squares instead of breaking it in pieces. You have to cut it when it’s not too hot and not too cool. And hey, it worked! Also, I ate all the ones that broke.

alfajores: These were a new addition to the cookie roster last year and I’ve been thinking about them since! Creamy, caramelicious dulce de leche sandwiched between two light, flaky cookies with a crunch of sugar on top. Bomb! And hey, I wrote up a recipe for you on Dana’s blog for her Sweets and Treats Christmas Countdown.

Oh and those linzers up there at the top of the page: wow, linzer cookies are kind of a pain in the butt. They just look so damn christmasy I had to make them. I used Karen DeMasco’s recipe from The Craft of Baking (a killer book by the way). It was chock full of orange peel and nutmeg and hazelnuts. The texture was perfect, but I wasn’t keen on the taste. It was almost too grown up and boring. Maybe a boozy filling would have made it grown up in a good way.

decorating gingerbread men

Gingerbread men too: well you have to make gingerbread men (look more instagraminess).

Merry Christmas everyone! We’re off to Grannyma’s. I’ll see you back here on Monday!

christmas cards

christmas cards

Every year I make christmas cards for everyone and I usually enjoy it. Last year it was one more annoying thing to do and just went out and bought them. Then I bought some more on sale after Christmas to stash away in the box for this Christmas–knowing my future self wouldn’t have her shit together come December. But haha, past self, I gots it together this year! How did I do it? I had my kids make them for me.

christmas cards colored by children

My husband resized the christmas coloring pages I drew, my kids colored them (above are some of my favorites) and I sent them out. Done! Well, no I actually have a few more to get in the mail, but almost done!

the xeroxed tree, decorated

decorated paper tree

Here is the xeroxed tree all decorated! The kids had a blast making ornaments for it.  They did have a hard time coming up with christmasy things, hence the orange octopus. And what is that giant purple thing, you ask? A whale shark, silly. Don’t you have one on your tree?

My sister said I should get lights for it and I do want to. These look like they would be perfect, but they are on back order. poo.

shelf in the kids' room

There was an overwhelming response to showing you the kids’ room now rather than later–you guys have no patience :) So I’ll have a few post for you next week (there are a lot of pictures for a such a small room). Here is a little sneak peek.

Have a good weekend!


slice of panforte

Panforte is usually described as the Italian fruitcake, but that would lead you to believe it sucks, which it most definitely does not.  Panforte is indeed a mix of fruit and nuts, but the similarity to weird American fruitcake ends there.

whole panforte

Panforte isn’t really a cake at all or a bread, as its name implies. It’s more like candy–a lovely piece of grown up christmas candy. Sliced very thin and eaten with a glass of red wine or a strong cup of coffee, it’s delicious.

fruit for panforte

The recipe is staggeringly simple and ridiculously adaptable. My mom has perfected it over many, many christmases (all failed attempts were also delicious).  Take whatever dried fruit and nuts strike your fancy and mix them up with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, cocoa, black pepper and a bit of flour.

panforte montage

On the stove bring some sugar and a bit of honey to a boil and pour it over everything. Mixing is probably the most difficult part, but your bicepts will thank you for it.  At some point I ditched the spoon and just used my hands to get everything together. Then it goes in whatever round pan you’ve jammed parchment paper into and into the oven.


That’s it. Panforte keeps for weeks. Before you serve it, sprinkle powdered sugar mixed with some spices on top for a snowy christmas look. Small ones make lovely gifts. Or you can do like I do and cut a big one in quarters–makes it easier to keep a bit for yourself. Last year we had panforte with oranges as our pre-dessert (or maybe post-dessert dessert? I can’t remember, but I know there were multiple desserts and cookies and pies were in there somewhere).



(recipe provided by my lovely mother–thanks mom!)

note: I made a double batch, so the amounts you see in the pictures will be different than yours. Also, this recipe doubles easily :)

  • 1 lb mixed dried fruit (you have to have a lot of figs, but other than that most everything is fair game. I used black mission figs, calamata figs, apricots, dates, cherries, and candied orange peel.)
  • 1 lb mixed nuts (about 1/2 lb should be almonds and then, again, anything goes. I used almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom (freshly ground if possible)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspooon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cloves (freshly ground if possible)
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Toast nuts at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Use a different pan for each kind of nut because they all toast at different rates. Check them often. When they are toasty throughout, they’re done!

2. Mix nuts and fruit together. Do not chop! Everything is kept whole.

3. In a bowl mix together cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.  Take 1 Tablespoon of the mix out and reserve for sprinkling on top.

4. Add flour, cocoa, and black pepper to spice mix.

5. Add flour/spice mixture to fruit/nut mixture. Mix well.

6. In a saucepan bring sugar and honey to a boil. Boil for one minute.

7. Pour over fruit and nuts. Mix well. All the flour must be hydrated–make sure there are no little floury bits at the bottom.

8. Put parchment in a round pan (a 9 or 10 in springform pan works really well, but anything will work) and butter well.

9. Press the panforte into the pan. It should be no more than 1 to 2  inches thick.

10. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

11. Mix powdered sugar with the reserved spices. Sift over the top.

12. To eat the panforte slice into 1/4 inch (or thinner even!) slices. Enjoy!

slice of panforte