Christmas Crack

This is soooo addictive and soooo good!

INGREDIENTS:

35 – 40 saltine crackers (or graham crackers)
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups toppings as desired such as pecans, walnuts, crushed OREO cookies, pretzels, toffee bits, M&Ms, or drizzles of other melted chocolate
DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a 15” x 10” x 1” pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Line up crackers in a single layer in rows on foil.
Meanwhile, using a candy thermometer, melt butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 to 3 minutes (270 to 290 degrees if using a candy thermometer). Immediately pour over crackers and spread evenly with a spatula.
Bake 5 minutes or until the candy hardens (300 to 310 degrees if using a candy thermometer). Remove from oven.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30-second increments at 50% power until melted. Spread over hardened caramel.
Sprinkle nuts or other toppings and press into the chocolate using a greased spatula. Cut into squares while warm. Cool completely and store in the refrigerator.

My Christmas Lady (2016)

I had the fabulous idea of creating a Christmas mannequin instead of a traditional tree this year. Well, as usual, it turned out to be much more hassle and expense than I expected.

At the end of Thanksgiving weekend, after I had it almost complete only to have the stand refuse to hold all the weight and topple over, I hauled it upstairs and threw it in the corner of the storage room. But eventually, cooler heads prevailed and I hauled it back out, gave her a brush-up and shortened the stand to a steadier table-top height.

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Here’s how I did it:

  1. I ordered a cheap ($27.00) wire manniquin from Amazon. I knew fairly quickly that the stand was going to give me problems, but I perservered.
  2. I wrapped the bottom of the form with chicken wire. The following week, I had to wear long sleeves to work; my forearms were so scratched by the stupid chicken wire, I looked like I’d been attacked (which, I guess I sort of was, actually)!
  3. I found the top section of an old Christmas tree and cut the branches off with a pair of pliers. I bent the wire at the bottom of each branch to form a hook and strung them through the wire around the manniquin’s waist to form her skirt. I stuffed one cord of lights in her bodice, and wrapped two more cords around her skirt.
  4. I found a scrap of burgandy colored velvet fabric in my stockpile, and made her bodice by wrapping and pinning it around her “shoulders” and waist. Long hat-pins left over from the wedding supplies worked great. I fastened a vintage Christmas holly pin at her cleavage.
  5. I wrapped a wide piece of white-on-white Christmas ribbon around her waist to give it some definition, then wired a bow made of several different pieces of Christmas ribbon to one side of her waist.
  6. I’ve had this deep purple hat for at least 20 years; I just love it.  I hauled it out, dusted it off,  and wrapped it with white netting.  I then fastened a length of the same white-on-white ribbon that I’d used on her waistband to the crown of the hat . Again, hat-pins! Lots of hat-pins! I attached another vintage Christmas pin, a white snowflake, to the center of the crown and draped a string of pearls around the crown. I whipped up another bow from the Christmas ribbons and attached it to the back of the hat.
  7. I removed the cardboard tube from the center of a pant-hanger, and bent/wired it to the neck of my manniquin as a support for the hat. Then I took the end of the light string at her bodice and wrapped it through the ribbon bow at the back of the hat.
  8. This is where I stopped, put it up in frustration, cooled off, and dragged her back out again. I finished her off by draping green tulle ribbon around her skirt and hanging a few monogrammed ornaments. I did away with the middle section of the stand, making her table-top height instead, and set her up on my grandmother’s drop-leaf dining table in my foyer. Ta-Da!!

 

 

christmas-lady3   I had a seperate brainstorm to create a man to keep her company, but eventually gave that up except for the super-cool top hat. I may attempt that next year.

I added a couple of beribboned lantern-holders and decided to call it quits before someone got hurt.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Steel Magnolias

So, my good friend Paula McCain convinced me to audition for ACTS production of Steel Magnolias, and darned if I didn’t cast as Truvy, the lovable beauty-shop owner. The play is set in Truvy’s Beauty Shop where the neighborhood ladies meet to dish and commiserate.

SteelMagnoliasCome check it out Sept. 23-25 and Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at ACTS Theater, 1 Reid St. Lake Charles.

My newest creations

Since it’s been raining every weekend around here, I’ve had plenty of time to work on my crafts.imageHere are three of my shoulder-sling style bags I just finished.Two of them have 100% hand-loomed wool fabric fronts and backs. The backsides have a pocket with magnetic closures; great for keeping keys, sunglasses, and other small items handy. The sides and straps are full-grained biker/chap leather. One side features a cell phone pocket with Velcro closure, and the loop at the top is great for hanging (on restroom door hooks, for example).

image  The one in the middle is 100% leather; its front and its back pocket are gator embossed biker/chap leather and its back and sides are pebble grained chap leather.  The leather is super supple, yet sturdy. They are all fully lined with cotton fabric and have two inner pockets. image I love this shoulder-sling style; it hugs your body, so it’s out of the way and doesn’t flop forward every time you lean forward. And it can be worn on either shoulder.  I especially love the cell phone pocket; it keeps a phone handy but secure. You won’t have to worry about it slipping out or dropping to the floor. The outside pocket is also fabric lined, so sunglasses don’t scratch, and the magnetic closures keep keys inside but easy to grab.

These would make great Christmas gifts, so if you are interested please message me for pricing and details. I’d appreciate it. I’m working on some new designs, so stay tuned. 

Spring Break Project 2015

I picked up this pair of bedside tables at an estate sale a few weeks ago. I never can remember to take “before” pictures, but they were just plain brown. Here’s the finished project. 

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After sanding with 120 grade sandpaper, I painted the drawer faces and bottoms dressers with 2 coats of Benjamin Moore “Flora” flat finish. Then, for my faux-marble top, I painted the top with 2 coats of Zinzer primer tinted dark grey; then, using small round craft sponges, I sponged the tops with 6 different colors acrylic paints starting with black and working up to lighter shades. I used toffee, burnt umber, and moved up to buttermilk. Again with the 120 sandpaper, I sanded the painted drawers and bottoms to look like wear spots. Since the sanded areas needed an aged look, I dabbed some dark brown shoe polish and scrubbed it in. I finished everything with 2 coats of Polycrylic sealer, sanding lightly with 220 grade sandpaper between coats. It gives the paint a nice shine without turning yellow.

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