Nov 24, 2014
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This bread.

OMG.

I LURRRRRRVE this stuff.

Cranberry Orange Bread is the kickoff of the holiday season in my kitchen.  I make it for Thanksgiving and continuously until after Christmas.  OBSESSED.  I love it for breakfast with coffee or OJ, or for a snack, or for dinner if I am feeling lazy.  You can freeze a bag of cranberries (and save it for summertime, which I have done.) because cranberry season is short–it’s mid- September through mid-December, typically.

 

Cranberry Orange Bread is sweet and tangy and I am addicted.   It’s a thick and dense bread with flavor jam-packed in every slice.  Those little cranberries are quite impressive.  I now have to make 2 loaves at a time because my kids will eat it right out from under me.  I will strong-arm a toddler over this bread.   It’s that good.

 

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Making it with Stephany’s Cranberry Orange Bread

makes 1 loaf of bread

 

2 cups of flour, I always use whole wheat flour, it’s great

1 cup of sugar

1.5 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1, 12oz. package of fresh cranberries, chopped in blended or food processor

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) of butter, softened

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon of orange peel

3/4 cup of orange juice

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Start by combining all of the dry ingredients.  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  Then add egg, orange peel and orange juice to the bowl.  Stir until the mixture is evenly moist.  Fold in cranberries.

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Pour batter into a greased loaf pan, I like using a thin coat of shortening rubbed in with a folded (and clean) paper towel.  You can use non-stick cooking spray but that stuff bakes on to your pans and is a beast to get off.  The batter should fill the pan about 2/3rd full.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 10 mins.  Do the toothpick test, if it comes out clean, it is done.  Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

makingitwithstephanycranberry_007Eat. Enjoy. Repeat.

Nov 21, 2014
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I am not the best sewer.  I get a little impatient and can have messy seams.  I go too fast and I don’t like to follow directions.  But, it’s what is on the outside that counts, right?

 

I like to make little stuffed animals when people have babies.  It’s just my thing.  I draw up a little critter, and make the rest up as I go.  Which, in case you haven’t learned anything from this blog, is how I roll.  “Making it with Stephany, making shit up as she goes EVERY DAMN DAY.”  I smell a trademark.

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I make more intricate creatures, but I have had requests from viewers to tie in some basic sewing skills and how-to tips on sewing.  And what better way to do this is to make some cute little animals?!?

 

I sketched up 3 animals and then made each design.  The sketches became MIWS GIRAFFEMIWS DOG and MIWS BUNNY  patterns.  I am including the template for each animal for download, make which ever you prefer, or make all 3 and have a crafty day.  Since they are on the small side, and only use 2 pieces of fabric, they are pretty easy to kick out in an hour.  I made the pattern big enough to fit on a standard sheet of paper so when you print it out, you are ready to go.  If you want to use the pattern as a template only, feel free to use the shape as a guide and make it bigger than the print out.  Sometimes the smaller area to sew can be tricky but if you go slow, you can do it.  These designs are geared for someone who as a basic sewing knowledge but if you want to get a little creative and add your own ears to the dog, or extra ear to the bunny, DO IT!!

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You will need:

At least 1/2 yard of fabric.  A fat quarter will work but might be a little tight getting the pattern to fit.  Also, with the small seams you will be making, the better quality of the fabric the better.  Junky fabric will need to be gone over with the sewing machine twice to make sure the seams don’t rip out.

thread

stufffing

needle for hand stitching the animal up after you stuff it

any embellishments you want to add to make your animal extra rad, like buttons, ribbon, yarn, etc.

 

Start by folding your fabric in half with the printed side of the fabric facing in to itself and the wrong side of the fabric on the outside.  You will have 2 layers and when you cut out your pattern, you will have 2 cuts of the animal shape.  You don’t need to place your pattern on a seam so place the pattern anywhere on the fabric.  Pin the paper to the fabric and cut out the animal shape you have chosen.

makingitwithstephany_014Take out the pins and remove the paper pattern.  You don’t need this anymore.  Now you have 2 cuts of your animal shape, repin the fabric together and it’s time to start sewing.  Make sure you keep the printed/good side of the fabric facing in on itself.

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makingitwithstephany_015You can start sewing at any point on your animal, but I suggest you leave the under belly open for turning it inside out when you are done sewing, and for the stuffing.  I did a small seam allowance, about 1/8 of an inch.  This is where good fabric quality comes into play.  The black and white polka dot fabric was good quality, it held the 1/8 seam with no problem.  When I made the bunny, I really liked the stripes, but the fabric wasn’t the greatest.  I went over my seams twice with the bunny to make sure they held.  It was a drag.  Use good fabric and you won’t have this problem.  This is also where going slow helps make good seams, too.

 

Once you have sewed the 2 pieces together (and left an opening to turn right-side out and stuff!), it’s time to turn your animal right-side out and stuff.  I used a pencil with the eraser side to get all of the tricky areas turned out.  Then I stuffed the animals firmly.  If you don’t use enough stuffing, weird creases can appear in your animal.

makingitwithstephany_012After each animal was stuffed, I sewed up the opening in the belly by hand.  I wanted the stitch to show, so I just did a basic stitch.  You can do an invisible stitch to hide your work, but I liked the look that mine had.

Let me tell you about the bunny.  I hated the bunny.  I am including it as a pattern in case you want to attempt and improve it.  I ended up using the tail as his back foot and getting rid of the foot I had drawn.  There were too many angles for as small as it is (the bunny is about 8 inches long) and it just didn’t work.  And the ear.  It looks ridiculous.  Bunny, you are the worst. Yes you have a button nose and a awesome pom-pom tail, but I still don’t like you.

If you make the bunny and your bunny turns out better than mine, please show me!  I would love to see the improvements you made on it!

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But the Giraffe and the Dog.  Easy and solid.  Love them.

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So get cracking!  Make some animals!  Share some animals!  SHOW ME YOUR ANIMALS!

KR2A1238

Nov 19, 2014
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In Minnesota, it’s beginning to look a lot like January.  Our fall lasted all of 2 weeks and went straight into the deep freeze of hell.  I am a big fan of winter, but sub-zero windchills can suck it.  My once cheery soul was now a frozen abyss of ice and crankiness.  Even though it feels like mid-winter, Thanksgiving is coming up and I needed to make a lil’ something to cheer up the household.

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My first thought was GLITTER.  Then I thought of the mess that comes with GLITTER and I was frightened.  Then I found the GLITTER and was drawn to it’s sparkly goodness.  I had a small stockpile of Martha Stewart glitter in fall colors so this project definitely felt like fate.  Browns, golds, oranges and reds.  YES.  This will warm my soul!

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Thanksgiving Glitter Garland was born.  I had 2 packages of fabric leaves that I picked up on clearance during the Halloween sale at Michael’s a couple of weeks ago and I had glitter.  I grabbed my hole punch and punched a single hole in each leaf.  Then I painted quick dry glue on the fabric leaves and doused them with glitter.  I used a cheap, junky paint brush that I could throw away after using it to paint on the glue.  **Full supply list is at the bottom of this post**makingitwithstephany_005      makingitwithstephany_006I tried to contain the glitter by working on paper plates.  That way, I could re-use the spilled glitter by making a little tube and dumping the unused glitter back in the jar.  I could also keep colors separate and let some leaves dry while I worked on others.  After some leaves where half dry, I moved them to a large piece of paper to finish drying away from my work area and I could keep pumping out the glitter leaves.  Once they were completely dry, I knocked off all of the loose and excess glitter on the large paper so it didn’t end up in my carpet.  (It did)  I ended up making 14 glittered leaves.

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After all the leaves were totally dry, it was time to start hanging them.  I had planned on using some brown paper twine, but it was too stiff.  I wanted the leaves to hang more like a bunting and that stiff twine wasn’t giving the garland any movement.  So, digging into the many bins of crafty shit I have, I found brown and white baker’s twine which was way more flexible and exactly what I was looking for.  I cut different lengths of twine and pulled it through the hole of each leaf.  Then I cut a length of twine about 2.5 yards long and tied the individual leaves to it.  makingitwithstephany_007After every leaf was attached, I taped the garland to the wall and adjusted the leaf placement and color pattern.  I wanted to spread out the colors and not have it look too clumpy.  Once I had every leaf in place, the garland was as good as done.  Clean up was still a PITA, but it could have been worse.  My office is still sprinkled in fall colored glitter, but I am chalking that up as a decor win.

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It’s going in my dining room to be sprayed with turkey juices when family comes over to chow down.

 

To make Thanksgiving Glitter Garland you will need:

fabric leaves

glitter in whatever colors you choose (I used Martha Stewart glitter and some regular glitter)

fast drying craft glue (I used Aleene’s Turbo Tacky Glue)

cheap paint brush

ribbon or twine (at least 4 yards)

paper plates

scissors

paper hole punch

Entire project takes about 1 hour of time to complete, drying times may vary.

Nov 10, 2014
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I’m not a banana fan.  Every so often I have a banana.  Otherwise, fresh bananas are the opposite of my jam.  And we still buy them, and they disappear slowly off of the counter.  And sometimes, if you are an extremely lucky person, 3 very brown and mashy bananas appear on your counter AT THE SAME TIME.  We all know what having 3 very brown and mashy bananas means, right?!  It’s banana bread time, bitches!  But, I don’t really like banana bread that much either.  Until today, when I realized that I had no Nutella in the pantry to make some Nutella banana bread.

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“What if I used peanut butter, instead?”  I thought to myself.  “Yes, Self, you are very clever!”  Just to make sure I really was clever, I Googled peanut butter banana bread, and sadly, I found out I was not that clever.  But it seemed none of the recipes were exactly what I wanted.  Some had a small amount of peanut butter, some had honey added, some had WAYYYY too much sugar and some just had the ugliest picture of the bread that there was no way I was even going to click that recipe.  So I flipped through a few different recipes that I liked and made some much needed adjustments.  I added what I liked, omitted what I didn’t like and made sure to take some pretty photos.  Here is what I came up with:

Peanut Butter Banana Bread, MIWS-style

makes 1 loaf of bread

 

3 very brown and mashy bananas, add a 4th if you love bananas

1/2 stick of butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup peanut butter, creamy or chunky

1.5 cups of flour, I used whole wheat flour, but all-purpose flour will work well also

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup of honey

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (omit if you hate nuts)

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl mix everything together, hold off on adding the flour until last, stir in slowly.  Stir until everything is well incorporated.  Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.  I like using a thin coat of shortening rubbed in with a folded (and clean) paper towel.  You can use non-stick cooking spray but that stuff bakes on to your pans and is a beast to get off.   Put the loaf pan in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour, do the toothpick test, if it comes out clean, it is done.  Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.  My oven is a little wonky and I needed to add 10 minutes to the bake time, so keep an eye on your LOAF!

When the bread was done, it was gorgeous!  I cut a (big) slice and I was really glad I upped the peanut butter to 3/4 cup.  It was a really good mix of sweet from the sugar, honey and bananas with a mild saltiness with the extra peanut butter.  And the bite from the walnuts–perfection.

If you love a dense, chunky bread, this is for you.  I will be having some of this bread with my coffee tomorrow morning, I may even dip it in the coffee.  IMG_0202And now, banana bread is my jam.  Just add peanut butter.  The End.

Nov 02, 2014
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This may be old news for my Minnesota peeps, but last week I was a lucky duck and had a really fun write up in the Star Tribune.  It happened to be on the front page of the Variety section.  Hot Damn!

 

I kind of forgot to share because Halloween was in the air….and if you know me, Halloween IS MY JAM.  I was busy making costumes for my kiddos, shooting family photos in the fall leaves for my other job, and being a guest panelist for the Center for Girl’s Leadership “Women in the Arts” program.

 

So, without further ado…read about me, in case the blog, the Instagrams and the videos weren’t enough.

#sorrynotsorry