Monday, December 27, 2010

{ holiday sharing: the world's best peanut butter fudge }

Even though the holidays are winding down, I've been meaning to share some of our family's traditions with you. But, better late than never, right?! So, without further adieu, I give you my grandma's world class peanut butter fudge recipe. Well, it may not be world class, but she was certainly known for her candy making skills in Miamisburg, Ohio where she was affectionately known as The Candy Lady.

My grandma, Mary Braunlin, made a lot of candy every year for gifts. There was even an article in the local paper about her in 1982 where she talked about the tradition and how it started:

Christmas memories of mine date back to 1950 when I married Dr. E.L. Braunlin and moved to Miamisburg, just across from the Miamisburg library on Central.

I never went Christmas shopping. I always made candy for my friends. I remember the first milkman was George Hanson. I sent home some cookies and candy. Don Helriggle, telephone. So it started, every October I would start my candy, freeze what I could and worked right up to Christmas. I made 10 different kinds.

Each year the list grew, postman, doctors, dentists, school teachers, ministers, friends, neighbors, policemen, patients at Dartmouth Hospital, etc.

Then we moved to Evans Ave., new neighbors, etc., but I still remembered my old friends.

My husband one year decided to keep track of what I used. Over 400 pounds of sugar, 55 rolls of Saran Wrap, 10 gallons of shelled pecans besides black walnuts, but he didn't mind. In fact he was always adding names to the list.

When he passed away in 1968, I still made candy until about 1975, my health became a factor. So last year I started teaching my daughter, Rayetta. She now has mastered three different kinds, pralines, peanut butter fudge, and chocolate fudge. So you can see I have some beautiful memories of Christmas, so many friends remember my candy.

Seriously, can you even imagine using over 400 pounds of sugar?!

The World's Best Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine the sugar and milk in a heavy saucepan and cook over medium high heat, until the temperature reaches 234 degrees F, or the "soft-ball" stage in candy making. This will take about 10 minutes or so, depending on your stove, and it's important to not step away from the candy at any time because the sugar mixture can bubble up quickly. At 234 degrees, remove pan from heat and add peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, and vanilla, and combine until smooth. Then pour into a 8x8 pan and allow to cool.

And the key to my grandma's peanut butter fudge: Peter Pan Peanut Butter.

I've tried other brands, but it's never as good unless you use Peter Pan. That's what she used, and although I normally don't buy it {I'm a natural peanut butter kind of girl}, but I do make an exception when it's time to make the candy.

Here are some photos I took when I made my first batch the other day, because if you've never made candy like this before, it can be a bit intimidating. You'll need a candy thermometer, like this one.

Pour the milk and sugar into a heavy saucepan. I used a stainless steel pan with a copper bottom.

Give it a good stir and then turn the heat on. See those tiny bubbles along the edge?

They get bigger, pretty quickly.

And bigger.

And even bigger, so I'd recommend staying put in front of the stove during the whole time you're making the fudge.

Almost to 234! This takes about 10 minutes on my stove top.

Once you reach the magic number of 234 degrees, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, and vanilla extract.

Then pour into a pan and let cool. That's really the hard part because, if you're like me, you'll won't want to wait to taste it.

Once it's cooled to room temp, score and cut into small pieces. I usually cut mine into 2 inch squared pieces and individually wrap them in plastic wrap, just like my grandma did.

I've already made this twice in the past week. It's so good, and, as corny as it sounds, each bite reminds me of Christmases as a child, when my grandma made her candy for me. Please let me know if you make some. I'd love to hear what you think!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

{ Merry Christmas to all }

and to all, a good night. I hope your holiday was filled with laughter, love, and lots of good cheer.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

{ Olive & Ollie on Storibook Designs and a giveaway }

My dear friend Sarah Devaney-O’Neil, of Storibook Designs is hosting a great giveaway on her blog, featuring the work of many wonderful handmade artisans, including me! Jump on over to her blog and enter to win. I'm giving away a $25 credit to my shop, and there are lots of other great prizes, too!

And, if you're in New England, you must check out Sarah's work. From custom window treatments, to upholstery work, custom furnishings, online consulting and more, she is such an amazing interior designer.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

{ yield quilt wins the MQG Challenge 1! }

Are you ready for some exciting news? My yield quilt was chosen as one of the winners of the Project Modern Challenge 1. I was so excited when I received the email yesterday notifying me that I had won. Seriously! I'm really pleased with how the quilt turned out, and it's been such a fun project for me to work on, but to actually win, that's a whole other story!

The judge for this round was Valori Wells, who is such an inspiration, and I'm honored that she liked my quilt. One of these days I'm going to make it to the Sister's Quilt Show, an outdoor quilt festival that her mother started over thirty years ago. I've seen photos from previous years and they are always gorgeous!

I'm working on the pattern for yield, and hope to have it completed in the next few weeks. It will include instructions to make it the same size as the original, and also a baby-size (or possibly wall-hanging size), and a larger sized version as well. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

{ O and O on the Gerber Baby Gift Guide }

Thank you so much to Julie, of The Gerber Babies blog for including me and my work in her Holiday Gift Guide. Julie writes:
If you like to buy your kids new pajamas for Christmas, you must visit Olive & Ollie! The Mod Christmas Tree Lounge Set is simple adorable! Heather is the brilliant designer behind Olive and Ollie and she has a gift for creating clothes that are playful and fresh. She creates Birthday Tees for my kids every year and they are always picture perfect. My kids wear their tees all year long and they are still in tip top condition, even after many washes! She also has great blankets (Sam would love her Let's Sail Away Design!) and bibs. Visit Olive and Ollie and find out why we like her so much. Trust me, it's obvious!
Disclosure: I was under no obligation to mention Olive and Ollie. She is one of my favorite designers, so I had to share!

Thank you so much, Julie!

{ end of year sale }

And just perfect for those last minute Christmas shoppers, too! I've got much more ready-to-ship inventory on hand than I normally do, and I'm running out of room. So, that means I've marked down prices on all in-stock items in my etsy shop! I've adjusted the prices of everything in my shop, and I'm adding more items today and tomorrow. Everything will ship via USPS Priority Mail, and will be on your doorstop within 2-3 days.

All items are one of a kind, first quality designs handmade by me. Happy, happy shopping!

Monday, December 13, 2010

{ and the winner is... }

The winner of the Slice Fabrique machine is number 46, Lil' Bit Sassy, who said...
I follow your blog!

The winner of the Arcadia Honey Bun is number 5, The Dimino's who said...
I am a new follower of Andie's blog!

The winner of Andie's fat quarter stack and quilted note cards is number 162, old_sew_n_sew who said...I also follow you on twitter.

And the winner of Emily's headband is number 129, Our Busy Little Bunch who said...
I tweeted :)

Congratulations to you four, and thank you very much to all who entered! I'm going to email you all for your shipping addresses, but if you don't hear from me by tonight, please email me ASAP at olive_and_ollie at yahoo dot com so I can get your goodies out to you!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

{ ready to ship! }

I'm working on updating my shop with a lot of items that are one of a kind and ready to ship, just in time for the holiday season! All ready to ship items will be mailed within 24 hours of purchase, and will be at your door within 2-3 days! Here's a peek of some of what's available!

Those of you who have been following for a while know that I don't usually have much in-stock, ready to ship items, so don't miss the opportunity to grab something fast!And, as an added bonus for you, enjoy 15% off of your purchase price with the code "happyshopping." Just enter it at checkout!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

{ day 4 of where women create's 12 days of Christmas }

Features me! And the lovely and talented Monica Solorio-Snow, aka the Happy Zombie, and Melody Ross of the Brave Girls' Club. Hop on over to the WWC blog to read about some of our Christmas traditions, and to enter their giveaway for some great prizes. I'm giving away a $50 gift certificate to my shop. Be sure to check out all 12 Days of Christmas traditions and enter to win all of the great prizes in the giveaway. Happy Holidays!

{ a huge holiday giveaway! }

Happy Holidays! This has been a great year for me and I want to thank all of my wonderful readers by having a huge giveaway for you all. I asked a couple of my local crafting friends to pitch in too and here's what we've got in store for you!

{the Grand Prize!}

A brand new, Slice Fabrique Cordless Fabric Cutter, a FABULOUS fabric-cutting machine by Making Memories, that isn't even in stores yet! You can use this machine to cut all sorts of shapes and letters for applique to embellish anything from tee-shirts, jeans, dresses, quilts, note cards, etc. Seriously, the possibilities are endless. The retail value of this machine is $149!

{Arcadia Honey Bun by Sanae for Moda}

These gorgeous fabrics are out of print! The pre-cut lengths of the Honey Bun are great for so many projects. Check out The Moda Bakeshop for all kind of "recipes" to use your Honey Bun in!

{quilted note cards and fat quarter set of Patricia Bravo and Jennifer Paganelli fabrics}

My friend Andie of Andie Johnson Sews is offering a set of her beautiful quilted note cards and a gorgeous stack of fat quarters. Andie is a member of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild with me and a very talented quilter. She's a Cincinnati native who is a wife and mom to three teenagers. Andi took advanced sewing classes all through high school and has been making clothing, home dec. items, and quilts ever since.

{non-slip pink and black flower ribbon headband}

Emily of Deshler Designs is offering a non-slip ribbon headband, perfect for keeping the hair out of your face while you're crafting! Emily's a Native Cincinnatian, wife to wonderful husband, mother to a 3 1/2 boy & 21 month old girl. Loves to be with family & friends, sewing, crafting, church, working out, cooking, baking, & good wine. She started Deshler Designs in 2009 as a creative and entrepreneurial outlet while being a stay at home mom. You can also check her out on Facebook at Deshler Designs.

Here are the details on how to win!

{**ONE**} Become a follower of my blog! Then come back and leave a comment on the post letting me know. If you already are a follower, just leave a comment stating that.

{**TWO**} Follow me on twitter and leave a comment. If you already follow me there, just leave a comment stating that.

{**THREE**} Become a follower of Andie's blog. Then come back and leave a comment below. If you already are a follower, just leave a comment stating that.

{**FOUR**} Follow Andie on twitter and come back and leave a comment below. If you already follow her there, just leave a comment stating that.

{**FIVE**} Follow Emily on twitter and come back and leave a comment below. If you already follow her there, just leave a comment stating that.

{**SIX**} If you're on twitter or Facebook, tweet or post about this giveaway, being sure to include the link to this blog post.

So, you've got up to six chances to win! The contest will be open until Monday, December 13, 2010 at noon EST, when I'll use the Random Number Generator to choose four winners. Good luck!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

{ tutorial : scrappy patchwork scarf }

This scrappy patchwork scarf is so fun to make, and it's a great little project to use up scrap fabrics. Plus, it comes together so easily that is makes a quick and inexpensive gift, perfect for the holidays!

{ materials }

* {5} 6" x 6" squares of assorted cotton fabrics
* {5} 6" x 8" rectangles of assorted cotton fabrics
* {3} 6" x 24" pieces of cotton chenille
* thread
* sewing supplies and notions of your choice

{ directions }

1. Cut out all fabrics needed for the front and back of your scarf. As you can see, I used a mix of prints and colors because I like the scrappy look of it, but feel free to use more or less prints if you'd like.

2. Join the three pieces of chenille together to make one long strip, by sewing them right sides together, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. The strip will measure approximately 6 inches by 72 inches after it's sewn. Press seams open with an iron.

You'll see that the seam is barely noticeable due to the texture of the cotton chenille.

3. Lay out the squares and rectangles, in any design that you like, alternating between the two shapes. I start with a square and end with a rectangle.

4. Sew rectangles and squares, right sides together and using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, to form the front of the scarf. Press seams open with an iron.

Voila! The front of your patchwork scarf is done!

5. Sew front of scarf and chenille together, right sides together. The chenille side will be longer than the front, but we'll trim it up later.

Be sure to use a lot of pins! The fluffy texture of the chenille can be a little tricky to work with, so it's a good idea to use plenty of pins in this step to keep your fabrics from sliding apart while sewing. Leave 3-4 inches on one side open for turning the scarf right side out.

6. Remove pins, and trim excess chenille off the end of the scarf.

7. Trim the four corners of the scarf very close to the seam line, being careful to not cut your stitches. This will give the ends of your scarf nice, square edges.

8. Turn the scarf right side out. You can use a turning stick or a pencil to help get the corners nice and even. Press scarf with an iron, being careful to line up the unsewn opening along the edge of the scarf with the rest of it.

8. Top stitch along the entire perimeter of the scarf, about 1/8" from the edge.

You're done! Now you have a super cute and warm patchwork scarf to keep for yourself, or as a handmade gift! If you make one, I'd love to see photos of your finished scarf!
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