Mini Piñata

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At Craft Gym last week we made sweet Mini Piñatas. Today is May the Fourth and it is my sister Kathleen’s birthday.  Happy Birthday! I’m sure the piñatas were to honor Cinco de Mayo but I thought it would be a just the thing to celebrate Kathleen’s birthday and make it an even more festive fiesta.

Unfortunately, the link for the mini piñatas on the Once Around site isn’t working, so I’ll walk you through the steps.

Mini Piñatas

You’ll need:

  • A Template (lots of online options) or draw your own
  • Pencil to trace template
  • Lightweight Cardboard such as cereal box or poster-board
  • Scissors (if you have multi-blade fringing scissors, now is the time to use them!)
  • Masking Tape
  • Colorful Crepe or Tissue Paper
  • Glue Stick or Glue such as Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue
  • String (if you want to hang it and/or to attach to trap door)
  • A large needle (to put the string through the cardboard)
  • Optional: Washi Tape to close the trap door for accessing the treats inside
  • Small Candies or other tiny treats to fill the piñata

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I used some hand-cut confetti, sequins, paper hearts, felted balls and a variety of small candies to fill the piñata.

I saw several patterns online that had tabs for putting together the pieces of your piñata but in our Crafty Gym we didn’t cut any tabs, and they worked fine.

Cut two matching shapes of cardboard, (I thought the donkey was really cute, but it was a little tricky putting it together – a big heart would also be cute and much easier!) and one long strip of cardboard, about 1.5 inches wide.

Use masking tape to assemble the piñata. I started at the bottom of one leg and taped the strip to it for a few inches.  I creased the strip whenever I reached a sharp corner, then lined up the matching shape and starting taping it on the other side of the cardboard strip to form a 3-D shape.

If you want to hang the piñata up, use a large needle to poke a hole through the cardboard at the top of your shape and thread the string through the hole. I did this after I’d completely covered the piñata with paper fringe and it was pretty tricky.

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I used super-cute yellow pom-pom cord that came on a birthday gift and I saved for just such an occasion. One piece is for hanging it up, one piece connects to the little trap door underneath.

Most directions suggested cutting a flap or trap door for candy removal after you’re finished assembling the piñata but I cut the trap door on the inside of one leg before I’d started adding fringe.

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(Above) here is the candy door open, it is on the inside of the leg to the right) and you can just see two yellow pom poms attached to the door.

Cut tissue or crepe paper into strips about 1.5 inches wide and fold several strips together, folding in half and then in quarters, keeping the paper aligned.

Cut the tissue or crepe paper into a fringe, then unfold.

Using glue stick or tacky glue, glue two rows of each color of fringe to the piñata, starting from the bottom and working upwards.

Once you’ve completely covered your piñata, you might want to trim the fringe  so as to keep the shape of the piñata from become obscured.

Let glue dry.  Fluff the fringe a bit to give it more texture.

Fill your piñata with treats, tipping and tilting to fill every little corner.  Attach cord to trap door.

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I added a small “happy birthday” tag on the cord for pulling open the candy door.

Close door and use some washi tape, if desired, to keep it closed.

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Two strips of polka dot washi tape are keeping the treats inside until the recipient opens the piñata.  You might want to provide a plastic bag when you give your piñata so they don’t lose any goodies.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Art Journal: Backlog

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I’ve gotten behind on posting photos of Art Journal pages I’ve made.  I try to share them as I make them, but don’t always manage to do that. Let’s catch up, shall we?

Untitled, 8/11/13

This was inspired by a picture on Pinterest and when I followed the link, I found My Flower Journal, Tammy Northrup’s blog with beautiful splattered painting art.

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Tiny flowers are punched from textbook pages, painted different colors and glued onto a gesso and acrylic painted page. The meadow is made almost entirely from splattered paint dots.

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I used black and white pen to add details to the flower stems and leaves.

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Leap of Faith, Date Unknown (early 2014)

I don’t remember where I found this wonderful quote, but I love it!

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I’ve had this picture, torn out of magazine, for ages. It works well with the quote, don’t you think?

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A man in a flying machine along with some definitions torn from the dictionary and I had a page.

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Bendy Bodies, Date Unknown (early 2014)

Mostly from Athleta ads torn from magazines.  I have a very inflexible body but I’m fascinated by the strength and flexibility shown in these pictures.

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Collaged Hills and Mountains, Date Unknown (early 2014)

I probably didn’t share this before because I’m a little ambivalent about it. This was the inspiration.  I don’t think mine was as effective.  White space at the top would probably have helped, and sharper images with greater contrast.

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Leaf Forms, August 4, 2014

Sometimes I look through my collection of ephemera (housed in a variety of plastic zippered sleeves, a tin box, a large basket and a shoebox) and find items that go together.  Maybe I’ve had one piece for a long time and I see something else and remember that first one and know they will work well together.  Other times I just start working on a page without really knowing where I’m headed.

The end result may be what I set out to create or something that I worked on layer by layer and bit by bit until it seems finished. For this page I wanted to use the large leaf skeleton on the right, so I looked for things that would go with it. But don’t ask about that #13, because I really don’t know how it ended up here, but it did, and I like it.

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Our Lady of the Roses, October 10, 2014

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I’ve had this picture of a stained statue for a long time.  When I embroidered a feather to use on a page the month before, I started looking for other images that would work with embroidered embellishment.  I needed to add a fold down flap to the page to have enough space to fit this in my journal.

The title has faux stitching made with dots of black ink joined by slightly curved lines made with a teal marker.

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I added a halo with embroidery floss.

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Dia di los Muertos, October  11, 2014

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I saw a project to do with kids using copied photos of their own faces (copy photos on copier, increase to approximately life-sized if photo is smaller), painted into a Dia di los Muertos mask.  I just pulled a picture from an ad in a magazine and created my own. I liked how the glamorous model became anonymous under the layer of paint.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

At Sea Ranch I sit and watch the ocean and sky out the window.  This is an attempt to capture what I love to look at.

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Blue Décollage, March 4, 2015

This page is from an exercise in The Collage Workbook, How to Get Started and Stay Inspired by Randel Plowman.

The exercise is to create a collage by layering pieces of paper on top of each other and the before the glue sets, tearing off the top layers to reveal what is underneath. As is typical, I reread the directions and examined the photos in the book more carefully after trying out the method.  I realized I started with too many small pieces, but it was an interesting process and I may try it again.

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Font, March 4, 2015

Another exercise from Mr. Plowman’s wonderful book on collage; he calls this one Typography and directs you to construct a collage using type from magazines or newspapers.

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Disconnected, March 8, 2015

Another page of typography.  In this one I tried to create new patterns and shapes from the pieces of letters I cut apart.

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Thank you for visiting.

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Art Journal: Rarely Tidy

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Creative minds are rarely tidy.

No doubt there are plenty of creative people out there who are very tidy.  I’m not one of them.  When I saw this quote I knew I would use it someday in my art journal and over the weekend I finally did.

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I haven’t been crafting as much as I’d like.  I’ve been busier than usual at work recently and I’m trying to keep up with my daily fitness goals day (hello, Fitbit).  Crafting has been neglected.  As usual my craft desk has gotten piled up with supplies and tools because when I do have a few minutes to make a card or decorate an Easter egg, I always choose creativity over cleaning.

Did I ever share these?  I think I made them last year after Easter than put them away for this year. Sigh.

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My friend Margaret and I got together to spend an afternoon playing with paper, glue and ink.  I didn’t have anything in mind so decided on making a few backgrounds.  With low mental energy I was looking forward to several long, luxurious hours crafting.  After a delicious lunch, we both spread out our supplies.  As usual I had brought more than I could possibly need or use, but I wanted to have plenty of options.

Do you do this?  You buy some interesting tool or supply but you aren’t sure how to use it so it just sits in the corner.  I felt I needed to pull out my small collection of stencils and start using them.  I watched a few crafting videos with tutorials on stencils  so I planned on doing some experimenting with some of the techniques I saw on YouTube.

I apologize for not getting more pictures of the process.  I used gesso to wash the page with a thin layer white so the type on the page still shows through in places.  Than I took two colors of pigment ink from a ColorBox rainbow stamp pad. Each separate color can be lifted out and used individually.

Taking out several shades of blue, I daubed the ink on the pages and used a wet brush to smear it around a bit, than dragged a plastic card (credit card size) through it.  You can see the results here, around the edges.  So far so good though if you are paying attention, you might note I didn’t even touch the stencils.  But I liked how it looked.  Yes, I used them later but not while I was creating this background.

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I went on to work on two more backgrounds.

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Again, I used gesso over the pages then on this one I painted on some watercolor and stamped on ink  in a rich magenta pink shade, than wet it and closed the book.  Pulling it open I got a kind of inkblot effect, which is now somewhat covered by the orange and white stenciling.  I’ll show you more of that one in a later post.

The last page I worked on that afternoon was made with strips torn from magazine pages.  The thin magazine pages are laid over a plastic stencil than gently sanded with a fine sanding block  (used sometimes for manicures).  This takes away some of the ink from the picture and allows the design of the stencil to come through.

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The stencil shows white where you sand the magazine page – I liked it with fairly dark photos or rich colors.

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I tore the sanded pages in strips and layered them into my journal.

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Again, I’ll write another post with more about that technique and page.  It looks great as is, kind of like a landscape with water and hills.  I started trying to make the quote work with this page but I realized it wanted something messier to go with it.  I think I still want to do more with this page but I’m not sure what.

That evening after dinner I pulled my journal out and opened it to the first background.  After playing with the stencils with the sanding block technique, I wanted to used them with paint, ink and sponges.  I started added some layers to the pages.

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I just started playing.  My favorite blues and purples came out as well as some bits of paper for layering onto the page. I put a stencil on the background I’d made earlier and sponged ink over it.  I then flipped the inky stencil over oto another place on the page and used a brayer to roll across it, transferring more ink.  This gave me two variations for each stencil: the negative and positive shapes.

For the word CREATIVE I had tried the sanding technique over some alphabet thickers (dimensional stickers usually made from chipboard or foam), but the resulting word was too soft and subtle.

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So I used another technique, using the thickers as masks and painting over them, drying the paint, than removing them. I saw it here at Pine & Plum, my friend Carson’s wonderful blog (yes, you should check it out!) Follow the link to where she has a guest post on another blog.  I also used it on another page here.  I picked up the letters at Dollar Tree.

Carson also inspired the bit of thread I twisted under the scrap of paper that has the rest of the quote.  I like how it adds a new element to the page.

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I added some splatters of ink and paint, loading up the watercolor brush and flicking it at my open journal. I was clever enough to remember to cover the area around the book with some paper towel first.

White pigment ink daubed rather messily through one of the stencils was my final detail on the page.  I took some photos and headed to bed.

The next morning when I opened the journal I was surprised to find the last ink I’d added to the page was still sticky! I don’t know if it was the gesso coating on the paper or what but even when I used the heat tool it didn’t dry.  I also decided both pieces with the quote on them were too neat and tidy looking

A piece of paper towel that I’d used to wipe painty brushes on had dried. I ripped pieces from that and covered some of the sticky white pigment ink. This added a new texture as well as a little deep orange which looked great with the blue.

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I added more pieces of the painty paper towel.

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Rusty-orange watercolor paint got streaked and splattered on the page to go with the other orange.

Gold embossing powder covered more of the still-sticky white pigment ink.

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I’d already used a little washi tape, and added a few bits with orange patterns.

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Orange Dianne dots, gold embossing powder, and a sequin embellished the Creative title.

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Now I was really finished. It felt very satisfying to be creating in my art journal again.

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And, from the earlier pictures I took before, you can see how rare tidiness is in my creative world.

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Yes, it’s a mess. But at least it is my mess.

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Thanks for stopping by.  I really do appreciate every visit.

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Breakfast Strata with Sausage

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I fell in love the first time I had a breakfast strata.  I think the person serving it called it Breakfast Bread Pudding and it was similar but different from other egg dishes, and I found the combination of eggs, cubed bread, sausage and cheese wonderful. Another reason to love this dish is that most of the work is done the night before so in the morning it just has to be baked.  This is perfect if you are serving brunch to guests and would rather be sipping mimosa’s with them than whipping eggs in the kitchen.

This particular recipe is adapted from Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman: Sausage-Kale Breakfast Strata.  I tweaked it just a bit and the results are delicious.  I made it for our family potluck Easter Brunch.  This makes a big 10×13 inch casserole, and could be halved, but it’s so good, and it reheats well so you may as well bake up the whole pan.

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Breakfast Strata with Sausage

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

1 16 oz loaf of French or Italian bread (I used ciabatta)

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage

1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced

a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves finely minced

olive oil for cooking

about 10 oz. of greens, such as kale, spinach, chard or a combination, any thick stems removed.  (I used a 5 oz. bag of baby kale and a 5 oz. bag of spinach)

12 eggs

2.5 cups milk (I used 2% and whole would be great. I would not recommend all skim milk for this recipe)

6 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated

nonstick spray

salt and pepper

Optional: about 4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese for the top of the strata

Directions:

Cut the bread into cubes and set aside.

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Cook the sausage; squeeze it out of the casings if it is in links, break it apart as it cooks. Drain on paper towel.

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Wipe pan and heat a little olive oil to cook the onions.  Sprinkle in the rosemary when the onions are nearly done.

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If your greens are in bags, you can open the bag, fold it over and microwave-steam the greens right in the bag for 1 to 3 minutes.  If you are using greens sold in bunches or in bulk, chop coarsely and saute until just wilted.

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After allowing the cooked greens to cool, squeeze out excess moisture.

Beat together eggs and milk, and season with salt and pepper.

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Spray 10 x 13 inch casserole dish with nonstick spray and put in half the bread cubes, layer with half the greens, half the onions, half the sausage and half the Gruyere cheese.

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Layer the remaining bread cubes, greens, onions, sausage and remaining Gruyere.

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Slowly pour the egg and milk mixture over the casserole, moving around to get the whole casserole covered.  If desired, sprinkle with optional grated Parmesan cheese.

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Cover casserole with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator overnight.

Remove casserole from the fridge 30 minutes before baking.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees,  Remove plastic wrap from the dish and replace it with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking until top is golden brown and becoming crisp around the edges.

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This would make a lovely Sunday night supper. Thank you for stopping  by.

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Morning Walk

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I had a wonderful walk this morning. I’m afraid I didn’t bring my camera along, so all I have to share with you is this picture I took of my muddy boots when I got home.

Parking near the bottom of a small hill adjacent to McInnis Park Golf Course I hiked to top in time to see the sunrise. I also saw dozens of snails all along the trail including a tiny one that would have fit on my pinky fingernail. The sunlight made it look almost translucent.

I started thinking about the sex life of snails (interesting what one thinks about on a solitary walk) and realized how little I know about them. With research I’ve learned they are hermaphrodites, which means they have both male and female reproductive organs, and when they mate, they each fertilize the others eggs.

Anyway, back to my walk…coming down the trail from the hill, I took a path along a levee through a salt marsh.  I saw many different kinds of birds and enjoyed their songs as I walked.  I recognized mallards, Canadian geese, egrets with their black leggings and bright yellow boots, red-winged blackbirds, quail, and near the end of the walk a beautiful blue heron.

The marsh had patches of mist hovering over it, rising off the small creeks that laced the landscape. The path I was on overlooked a creek and suddenly I noticed three racoons, frozen in place, almost hidden on the steep, plant-covered bank. They looked like images you would find in a children’s “find the hidden animals” picture. Two were at the water line and when I looked back, I could see one swimming away.

The trail turned so I was parallel with San Pablo Bay though it was way across mudflats to the water. The sunlight illuminated silver-beaded spider webs strung on dry red-brown stalks. Even though I could hear some faint traffic noise in the distance, my own footsteps and the constant chatter and song of birds was louder.

My path circled back towards the golf course.  Mt. Tam was ahead and to the left and I could see the distinctive blue roof and gold spire of the Marin County Civic Center, where I was heading next for the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market. When I got back to my car, I checked my Fitbit and saw I’d walked just under 3.5 miles, a good start to the steps for the day.

This walk reminded me of some of the things I really value about getting outdoors early in the morning.  Although I find it convenient to work out at a gym three mornings a week, I like to take a short walk outside before I head home.  This adds steps to my days total but it is also different than walking on the treadmill in front of the TV.

The first thing I really love in the early morning is bird song.  I walk up the stairs in one of two downtown parking garages to get some uphill flights into my workout. The larger garage has several trees right next to it and every morning the branches are full of birds singing away.  Several times I’ve seen a bird singing in the stairwell and it’s song is amplified so it echoes through the whole building.  Once a bird (the same bird?) was singing next to a pipe that came through a hole in the floor and rose up through the ceiling – the hole for the pipe allowed the birdsong to carry though the garage.  I feel sure the bird or birds chose to sing where his or her song was magnified in this way.

When I reach the top floor of the garage, I see the next thing I enjoy early in the day: the sky.  It is getting a little lighter as the days lengthen.  On Friday it was a rich purple blue color.  Other times I’ve enjoyed beautiful clouds. This picture was taken last summer.

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The last thing?  Oh, the last thing is just that it’s good for me!

Thanks for your visit.

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Haircut

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I’ve worn my hair this way for quite awhile.  I have fine, thin hair and this was a great cut for making the most of it.   But most of the time when I get home from work, I clip it up to get it off my neck when I’m cooking or crafting.  When I work out or go to Jazzercise I also have it in a clip.

Another big reason for keeping it long (I know it isn’t really that long, but long-ish) and one that has been very powerful is that Rem likes it that way.  But lately, it’s been driving me a bit nuts.  I knew Rem wouldn’t be thrilled with a short cut, but I wanted to be happy with my hair.  I also knew he had fallen for me when my hair was short and he wants me to be happy too.

I started looking at pictures and videos and made an appointment with Chaz.  He’s been cutting my hair since high school, even before he’d been trained to do what he’s been doing so well since.  Today was the day and once he’d seen the pictures and we talked about it, he started cutting.  This is what he cut off.

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And here’s the new look!  Now THIS looks like someone who can jump out of a plane!

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a guest blog entry. Today’s guest blogger is Rem. Rem will wash any animal, any size for only $19.95. So if you have a huge pet, let’s say an elephant, you win!

 

I decided to bake cookies this morning and Dianne suggested I do a guest blogger entry. So here is my story about these delicious chocolate chip cookies.

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I decided to make cookies for Dianne’s family Easter brunch. I first made these cookies a couple of weeks ago but I don’t remember why. Then again I’m not bothered as ever since I landed on my head I forget a lot. So it doesn’t matter why I made them but that I made them and people liked them.

I found the recipe on Martha Stewart’s website. I was surprised to see her as one of the guests Roast of Justin Bieber. Did anyone else see it? Man did he get dragged over the coals! I can’t imagine a more deserving person. You could even make cookies while laughing and watching it.

So I was looking for a soft chocolate chip cookie recipe and found this one. I discovered it wasn’t far off from the Nestle’ Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe.

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The chocolate chip cookie ingredients.

The batter goes together quickly. I made sure to add the flour with baking soda mixture gradually into the butter, sugar and eggs mixture. I also added the chocolate chips gradually into the dough.

Gradually add the flour into the dough.

Gradually add the flour and mix into the dough.

Add the chocolate chips. Taste testing is encouraged.

Add the chocolate chips gradually. Taste testing is encouraged.

Ghirardelli chocolate, a San Francisco food!

Ghirardelli chocolate, a San Francisco food!

The recipe directions says to, “drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about two inches apart.” I found that size to make cookies too big for my liking. The 15 large cookies it yielded needed to be baked longer than the directed eight to 10 minutes.

Chocolate chip cookie dough awaiting baking.

Chocolate chip cookie dough awaiting baking.

Allow plenty of space between cookies so they do not touch when done baking.

Allow plenty of space between cookies so they do not touch when done baking.

Tasty cookies but too large for my liking.

Tasty cookies but too large for my liking.

The second tray of cookies were slightly smaller and the third sheet made 25 cookies which I thought was the right size to pop in your mouth and have a drink of milk.

Take the cookies out once the edges are golden brown.

Take the cookies out once the edges are golden brown.

The dough is pretty addictive so the amount of cookies made will depend both on the size of the cookies as well as how much dough you eat.

If you make these cookies, post a note and share how they came out.

Happy cookie dough

Happy face cookie dough. Who says you can’t play with your food?

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