Felt Hearts

Quick Craft — Embroidered Felt Valentine Coaster

Hi friends! I know it’s been a looooooong time since I posted. There have been dozens of projects and things happening, and I’m so sorry I neglected you!

Quick story:

Mid-December, I was making my semi-famous Toffee Pretzels for some last-minute Christmas gifts. In my rush to get them done, I was a bit distracted, and…

… dunked my fingertips into the molten 300 degree toffee. Um. Ouch.

A few hours and one visit to the emergency room later, I had these babies on all 5 fingers.

One thing I’d like to note, is that in my recipe, I mention that you should always have a bowl of ice water nearby in case a little bit of toffee hits your skin. So. Glad. I. Always. Do. This.

I had bandaids on all 5 fingers for a couple days, and on the 3 middle fingers for 7 weeks. Yup, burns are no joke.

Me, a few hours after the ER visit. Note hand holding phone. I had had wine and prescription pain killers at this point.

Anyhoo, because of the bandaids, my crafting abilities have been sorely hampered. Despite this, I finished this cute craft that I gave to my sis for Christmas.

Embroidered Felt Coasters

You’ll Need:

  • 5mm thick felt (if you can’t get 5mm felt, glue or sew together 2-3 pieces of standard felt)
  • Craft felt
  • Embroidery thread
  • Tacky glue
  • Rotary Cutter
  • Scissors

To make coaster base, simply cut out 4″ squares out of the 5mm thick felt. It’s best to use a rotary cutter for this task, rather than scissors, as it will make cleaner edges.

Next, start cutting out your felt embellishment designs. As you can see, I themed these with hearts, but you can use any design.

Embroider the cut out hearts. I used running stitch, blanket stitch, french knot, chain (and detached chain). Here are some great stitch ideas. 

Arrange hearts on felt squares, and glue down with tacky glue. You’re finished!

Truth be told, my Mom finished one of them altogether for me. I just couldn’t manage with the bandaids!

My sis loves hearts, so it could be a craft for anytime for her, but it’s perfectly suited for Valentine’s day. They’re super easy, and even giving just one is a great gift. Imagine giving one to your bestie for Galentine’s day to use at her desk, along with a pound of her favorite coffee. Or make 2 for a couples gift, and add a bottle of bubbly. And of course, they don’t have to be heart-themed. Take a look on Pinterest for “felt embroidery,” and you’ll see LOTS of inspiration.

Have fun, friends.

And remember: 1. Don’t put your hand in molten toffee. 2. If you do, have ice nearby.


Make Your Own Chocolate!

Gourmet Chocolate made from scratch… delicious, decadent and SO easy to make!

While some may ask, “Why make chocolate when it’s so much easier to buy it?”

I ask, “Where’s the fun in that?” Plus I really love gourmet dark chocolate bars, the ones made with exotic flavors and textures. But, they can cost five dollars a bar, sometimes more.

I set out to see if it was even possible to make chocolate from scratch. Now, because the chocolate used for candy-making sometimes requires heat tempering, (a special process which preserves the shiny, dark appearance), I figured that making it was going to be complicated and time-consuming. Wrong! No kidding – you can easily whip up a batch in under 30 minutes. Mind. Blown.

And, creating chocolate from scratch allows you to tailor ingredients to satisfy your own personal tastes, and you can modify it in so many ways!

For instance, I’ve been reducing my intake of refined sugar lately. It has really worked wonders for me, in eliminating cravings, and keeping post-treat crashes at bay. I’ve found that honey and maple syrup work really well as sugar replacements. So I’ve used them in this recipe.

As for the rest of the ingredients, there are only 3 basic elements in chocolate: cacao/cocoa powder, cacao/cocoa butter and sweetener.

Cacao butter

What’s the difference between cocoa and cacao? Put simply, cocoa and cacao butters are both vegetable fats derived from the cacao bean. Cacao powder differs from cocoa powder in that it’s less processed, considered more pure, and is also processed under lower heat, therefore is considered a “raw” food. There is a barely-noticeable difference in taste and texture, and cocoa does cost a bit less. Also, some say that cacao is more nutritious. They use words like flavonoids and phytic acid… but… snore… I went to sleep after reading about those. If you’re interested, check out this site.

From there, any flavors or extras are what make your chocolates your signature. Do you like peanuts better than almonds? Add some! Or add raisins or craisins. Swap out the vanilla with mint, orange or rum flavorings. You can even add spices or powdered flavors: instant espresso, cinnamon, red chili powder, etc.

However, this is IMPORTANT:

Do not let even one drop of water get in your chocolate mixture. If you do, it will seize and become a gritty, nasty, mess. Also, don’t add things like brewed coffee, non-alcohol-based liquid flavorings, etc.

Now let’s make some chocolate!

Gourmet Salted Almond Dark Chocolates – makes 20 to 30 pieces

(Click here for printable recipe)

  • 1 cup cacao butter (100 grams)
  • 1 cup cacao powder  (70 grams)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup
  • ½ cup chopped almonds, toasted
  • ½ tsp. flaky salt

Chop almonds, and toast in a sheet pan in the oven, 350° for 8 to 10 minutes, or until light golden brown.

Melt cacao butter in a glass bowl (or double boiler) over a barely simmering pot of water. When most of the solids are melted, remove the bowl from heat. Place on a dishtowel on the counter to cool for a few minutes.

If using honey, heat in microwave for 15 seconds. This helps with incorporating the honey in the mixture, as they will have similar viscosities.

Add honey (or maple syrup, if using) to melted cacao butter, and mix well with a whisk. **It takes several minutes for the honey/syrup to combine with the cacao butter – longer than you might expect. Be sure to take the time to ensure the sweetener is well combined with the butter. If you skip this step, you will end up with unevenly sweet chocolate. You can see the honey is well mixed when it goes from being a two-toned mixture to one with tiny bubbles, or “globs” of fat, to finally being slightly cloudy.

Once the sweetener is fully incorporated, add cacao powder and vanilla. Stir well.

Add almonds and mix to combine.

Scoop a tablespoon or so of mixture into candy cups or mini cupcake wrappers. Top with a few flakes of sea salt.

Refrigerate until set.

Enjoy!

Click here for a printable version of the Gourmet Salted Chocolates Recipe


Upcycling Lipstick Tubes

National Lipstick Day! 5 Ways to Upcycle old Lipstick Tubes!

In honor of National Lipstick Day (yes July 29th… another weird made-up holiday), I have found a way to put to use those amazing swivel-ey wands of beauty. Hooray!

I’ve got a LOT of old lipstick tubes sitting around. They’re mostly one brand — I’m a creature of habit when it comes to makeup. Mine are Estee Lauder, and they’re very prettily designed, and made of metal. I hate throwing them out, and over the years have collected quite a vast number of them.

Here’s a great upcycle of your old lipstick containers. They’re, obviously, the perfect size for popping in your purse, they’re great for travel, and that twisty-action is pretty cool for storing other items. Examples: Sewing Kit, First Aid Kit, Pill Dispenser, Toothpick Holder, Match Container, Bobby Pin Holder… go crazy!

You’ll need:

  • Old Lipstick Tube
  • Chopstick or small dowel
  • Q-Tips
  • Alcohol
  • Paper towels
  • Toothpicks

For Sewing Kit:

  • small piece of felt
  • safety pins
  • thread
  • needles
  • straight pins

For First Aid Kit:

  • Band Aids
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Pain Reliever

For Other Container Uses:

Whatever you want to carry in your lipstick tube, e.g. toothpicks, bobby pins, breath mints, pain pills.

Cleaning Out Lipstick Tubes

This is, by far, the most time consuming part of the process. To start, I highly recommend REALLY using all the lipstick in the tube. Most lipsticks twist all the way out and are flush with the outer sleeve of the tube whilst still having at least 1/4″ of product still in the tube… sometimes a LOT more! To get the most out of your initial purchase, get a lip brush, and apply the lipstick with a brush. My lipsticks last a few months more than if I didn’t use this method.

If you use the lip brush method before getting to the upcycle, you save yourself a lot of work.

Once you have a pretty much empty tube, clean out ALL the leftover lipstick. I start with a chopstick,

then a paper towel soaked in alcohol,

then q-tips,

then toothpick,

and finish with more alcohol-soaked paper towels.

See how much lipstick comes out? Really spend the time cleaning.

Make a Travel Sewing Kit

Cut a small strip of felt, about 2″ x 4″

Roll the felt into a tube and test-fit in the lipstick tube. Trim if necessary.

Attach your sewing kit items:

Safety pins, straight pins, needles and thread

Roll the felt into a narrow tube, and slide into the cleaned out lipstick tube.

You’re done!

Make a First Aid Kit

Create a roll of kit items, using the band aids or alcohol pad as the outer layer.

Roll up the items and slide into your lipstick tube. Instant emergency first aid kit!

Fill Tube with Other Important Stuff

Simply fill the cleaned out tube with other important but falls-to-the-bottom-of-the-purse/pocket/suitcase stuff.

Place Toothpicks, Bobby Pins, Matches, Pain Pills, Breath Mints inside the fully lowered lipstick tube.

Enjoy this new container of organization.

Enjoy!

I first made one of these when I was a kid, and forgot about them until a few years back. I love that I’m not throwing away a groovy, mechanized container, and the organization that these pretty little tubes provide is fantastic.

Anyone out there who are looking for something more “manly” or unisex to carry… you can also use Chapstick or other lip balm tubes the same way.

What other uses might you find for leftover tubes? Let me know in the comments.


DIY Fabric Flowers

Fabulous Fabric Flowers for a DIY Wedding — or any occasion!

Fabric Flowers, The Tamara Blog

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

I adore the look of fabric flowers. They have a lovely vintage, sentimental feel, perfect for weddings and other special occasions. And when making them, there are lots of opportunities to add trinkets, personality & meaning to create everlasting mementoes.

These flowers can be applied to shoes, used as brooches/corsages/boutonnieres, or even as a gorgeous bridal bouquet. They’re easy to make, and last long after fresh blooms have faded.

Fabric Flowers, The Tamara Blog

Supplies:

  • Polyester/nylon fabric – satin, chiffon, organza, lace
  • Needle and thread
  • Compass or household items for making circles (like lids, jam jar rings)
  • Beads, cast-off earrings, stick-on stones, etc.
  • Fabric marking pens/chalk
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors
  • Candle
  • Glue
  • Ribbon
  • Bouquet form (optional)
  • Shoes (optional)
  • Shoe clips – if applying to shoes

Flower Centers

Jeweled buttons make eye-catching centers for these flowers, but consider lost-earring-half-pairs, broken jewelry pieces, or other un-useable items from the bottom of your jewelry box or junk drawer. This can also be a beautiful use for Grandma’s old brooch or that earring your man gave you that you never wear. These elements are especially meaningful when making flowers that will become a bridal bouquet.

Fabric Flowers, The Tamara Blog

Choosing Fabric

I recommend at least 5 different types of synthetic fabric.  The use of synthetic material is essential, as the process of making the flowers involves melting the edges.  If you use natural fabrics (silk, cotton, rayon) the edges will burn rather than melt/fuse… not a good look.  Choose lightweight satin, chiffon, lace, organza. I used a lovely pleated fabric as one element.

Also consider color and texture.  If all the fabrics are one color or shade, the blooms may just appear as a ball of one single color. Contrast in hues and styles help highlight the main color and give depth to the overall appearance.

If using lace or tulle (netting) the edges do not need to be melted. These fabrics add a nice texture layer to the flowers.

For one bouquet, I began with ½ yard pieces of 7 different fabrics.

 

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Cutting Flower Circles

Determine the exterior diameter desired for your flowers.  My roses were 3-1/2″ across.  Stack fabrics one atop the other, pin in place, and use the water-soluble pen to mark circles, using compass or household items as a guide. Cut. Then create circle stacks 1/2″ smaller until you have 4 or 5 different sizes.

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

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Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Prepare Flower Elements

In preparation for the next step, you may want to have a glass of cold water or ice cubes handy, in case you inadvertently touch a molten edge before it has cooled. If you do make contact with a hot melted bit of fabric, grab an ice cube to help with the burn. Protect your paws!

Carefully hold the edges of the fabric circles over the candle flame until the edges begin to melt and curl.  Continue turning the circle until the entire edge is finished fusing.

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Assemble Flowers

When you have completed finishing the edges of all your circles, assemble.  Stack the circles, gradually working toward smaller circles until satisfied with the result, then stitch together.

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

To secure and create dimension, turn the flower over, and pinch in half.

Take a few stitches in the center of the stack to hold that pinch in place, and knot the thread.

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Turn flower right side up.  Add a center to the bloom.  This is where the crystals, buttons, pearl paint, glitter, or old earrings come in handy.  Go crazy with the accoutrements!

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

For another choice for flower centers, embellish small felt circles with glitter glue or pearl paint.

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Assemble Bouquet

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

When you have plenty of flowers, begin assembly on the bouquet form.  I also added ribbon roses to my arrangement.  My tutorial for ribbon roses is here.

https://tamarajewelry.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/ribbon-rose-wrist-corsage/

To attach the flowers to the bouquet form, push a long straight pin through the center of the flower. Dip the pin in glue, then push into the Styrofoam of the bouquet form. Repeat until the form is completely covered. Once the larger flowers are in place, use tufts of fabric, ribbon roses, or other elements to fill in any gaps between flowers.

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Create Shoe Clips

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Shoe clip hardware allows you to wear your flowers on different shoes, or remove them when you want to go back to unadorned shoes. Attach flower to purchased shoe clip hardware. Since shoes take quite a beating, I recommend sewing the flowers to shoe clips, rather than using glue, for maximum security.

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Fabulous Fabric Flowers -- The Tamara Blog

Enjoy and… make something beautiful!

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Lemony Squash Tart - Delish!

Gorgeous and Delicious Lemony Squash Tart

Zucchini Tart The Tamara Blog

It’s squash season! Know how I know? This.

Zucchini Tart -- The Tamara Blog

Yep. I harvested this 8 pound+ monster summer squash from my garden. And that was one of 4 harvested that day. Actual size: 8lbs. 12.1 0z. My nephew was smaller when he was born. Just sayin’.

Big Zucchini the Tamara Blog

Garrison Keillor, the host of the radio show, Prairie Home Companion, about the small, fictional town Lake Wobegon says, The town is so small that people lock their car doors at church only in July during the zucchini harvest—to prevent others from adding a bag of squash to the front seat. Yep.

With that kind of yield from my garden, I have to get creative with the squash. I love making zucchini soup, bread, and this tart is one of my all-time favorites. It’s adapted from a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. You’ve probably seen those pretty little apple tarts shaped like roses in pastry shops. I thought it would be fun to try a larger version. It’s not at all hard, looks very fancy, uses a fair amount of squash (key!), and this galette is seriously delicious.

Floral Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

Lemony Ricotta Zucchini Galette

  • 1 – 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 – 2 yellow summer squash, both thinly sliced (3 1/2 – 4 cups)
  •  Salt
  • 1 unbaked piecrust (you can use store bought)
  • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil — separated
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (finely shredded lemon peel)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Fresh dill — chopped

Directions

Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Then, using a mandoline (or sharp knife and patience), slice squash thinly, on a diagonal.

Floral Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

Floral Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

Sprinkle zucchini lightly with salt. Transfer to a colander; drain for 15 minutes. This helps remove some of the moisture, so you don’t have a soggy galette. Pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Meanwhile, on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper, roll pie dough to a 12-inch circle. Transfer parchment and dough to a large baking sheet; set aside.

For ricotta filling, in a medium bowl whisk together ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, garlic, 1 tsp. of the olive oil, lemon peel, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Using a spatula, spread over dough, leaving a 1-1/2 inch border.

Take one of the smaller zucchini half-ovals, and roll it in a sort-of-spiral or tube, with the round edge facing up. Place in the center of the galette.

Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

Add half-ovals around the center ‘rose,’ working toward the outside edge tilting up, and alternating colors.

Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

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Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

As you go, fill in layers with more “petals.” I also add folded or curled ones to give the galette a more organic look. Continue until the cheese is covered.

Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

When the surface is covered to your liking, drizzle squash with remaining 2 tsp. olive oil. Gently fold over pastry edge, pleating as necessary.

Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and 1 tsp. water. Lightly brush pastry edges with egg mixture. Transfer galette to oven. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Sprinkle with dill weed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

Floral Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

√

Floral Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

I’ve even added carrots to the galette (and baked in a pie plate when I took it to travel), to add some more color. Click here for a printable version of the recipe.

Floral Zucchini Galette -- The Tamara Blog

I’m pretty happy I have this baby! Enjoy.

Zucchini tart -- The Tamara Blog

 


Paper Hearts with Romantic Movie Quotes

Dimensional Paper Hearts with Romantic Movie Quotes

 

Dimensional Hearts with Movie Quotes

A few months ago I was approached by two very close friends of mine who asked me to design their wedding. The bride is a long-time confidant, wine-drinking & yoga buddy of mine, and the groom, a writer and one of the masterminds behind my Tamara Twist videos. I love them both very much.

Dimensional Hearts with Movie Quotes

They both are great supporters of my DIY skills, and really appreciate the ‘extra touch’ I try to incorporate into all my projects. Their wedding elements had to be perfectly suited for them.

Dimensional hearts with Movie Quotes -- The Tamara Blog

R & A are passionate about movies, and he especially loves to quote his favorite lines. So, I came up with these little heart confetti pieces for their tables. They’re very simple to make, and add a special bit of personality to a table-scape. They turned out to be great conversation starters, and got everyone talking about their favorite movies and best lines and even went home as lovely keepsakes of the big day.

IMG_0198

You’ll need:

  • Decorative Paper
  • Templates
  • Scissors
  • Glue dots – like Zots, Medium size
  • Printer

Choose the template you like. I’ve created three different movie-quote based ones here, here and here, and a blank one here. Print on decorative paper. Important note: When choosing the scaling settings on your printer, choose: “fill entire paper” to get the intended size hearts.

Dimensional Hearts with Movie Quotes

If you can’t find the perfect paper at the craft store, you can print both sides – one with decorative images, and the other with heart quotes. I found this beautiful string-light design for A & R’s wedding here on Etsy.

Dimensional Paper Hearts with Romatic Movie Quotes

Dimensional Hearts -- The Tamara Blog

Cut out the hearts on the lines using scissors.

Cut slit from bottom. The slit is not marked on the hearts because the line would show on the finished product. On each heart, cut from the bottom area where the ‘jog’ is at the bottom, to just under the quote lettering – about ⅛” below the letters.

Dimensional Hearts -- The Tamara Blog

Dimensional Hearts -- The Tamara Blog

Dimensional Hearts -- The Tamara Blog

Dimensional Hearts -- The Tamara Blog

 

Place a Zot on one of the sides near the bottom of the heart. Lift the opposite flap over the Zot and press down.

Dimensional Hearts with Movie Quotes

Dimensional Hearts with Movie Quotes

Dimensional Hearts with Movie Quotes

Repeat with as many hearts as you like, and you’re done!

Dimensional Hearts with Movie Quotes

Notes and tips: Don’t try using double sided-tape for this job. The adhesive isn’t strong enough to hold the pieces together for long. (Lesson learned the hard way. #Re-GluingIntoTheWeeHoursOfTheNight)

Dimensional Hearts with Movie Quotes

The hearts are lovely little accents for a wedding table, but also make a beautiful present for Valentine’s day or an anniversary. Pile a bunch in a jar, add ribbon and you have a romantic gift for your favorite movie-buff .

Dimensional Hearts with Movie Quotes

Dimensional Hearts with Movie Quotes

If you prefer making your own quotes, I’ve included a blank template so you can write anything you want.

Dimensional Hearts with Movie Quotes

Dimensional Hearts with Movie Quotes

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 


Easy Christmas Napkins

Gorgeous and Easy Christmas Napkins — deck out your table!

Holiday Napkins The Tamara Blog copy

Super Simple Christmas Tree Napkins

Easy Christmas Tree Napkins -- The Tamara Blog

I love an easy craft that has big impact, and these Christmas tree napkins really fit the bill. They’re super simple to make, are customizable and so beautiful!

Easy Christmas Napkins, The Tamara Blog

My mother is a crafter, kitchen wiz, and fabulous fiber artist. She made most of the clothes I wore growing up – the really cute ones, anyway.

When I was 13, she gave me a pattern and fabric, showed me how to thread a sewing machine, and taught me how to sew, a skill for which I’m eternally grateful. Mom’s favored fiber method these days is quilting, and she makes some beautiful ones.

A few Christmases ago, she handed me a pile of these napkins that she had recently whipped up, and off I went to set the table. So many beautiful fabrics, and the design is so simple, by the end of dinner I knew I had to have my own and wanted to share the design. You’ll need a sewing machine to make them, but even if you’re a beginning sewer, this is a perfect project to start. Your friends will be so impressed!

For the fabric, I headed to the quilt shop. Quilt stores have the best selection of prints. Look for “fat quarters,” as they work great for this craft.

Easy Christmas Napkins, The Tamara Blog

A fat quarter is a special piece of fabric, sold already cut, that usually measures 18” x 22”. In quilt shops you’ll often see fat quarter bundles grouped into beautiful combinations. If you can’t find fat quarters, just buy ¼ yard pieces of material.

When choosing fabrics for this project, select one green, or tree-style design per napkin, and one complementary design for the opposite side.

To make the Christmas tree napkins, you’ll need:

Fabric – 2 styles per napkin

Ruler or drawing compass

Fabric marking pen or pencil/chalk

Thread

Sewing machine

Needle (for hand finishing)

·      Fold the fabric in half, right sides together, so the piece is 18” x 11”.  (If using standard cut fabric, just fold along the short side. You’ll have half-circles at the end, instead of full circles that need to be cut in half.)

·      On the fold, or long side, mark the center of your circle.

Easy Christmas Napkins, The Tamara Blog

·      Measure the width of your fabric piece, this will determine the size of your circle.

·      Using the ruler or compass as a guide, mark a semi-circle on the wrong side of the fabric.

Easy Christmas Napkins, The Tamara Blog

·      Cut along the marker line, then, cut the circle in half along the fold. (Omit this step if you’re using standard fabric.)

Easy Christmas Napkins, The Tamara Blog

·      Use this first circle as a pattern for cutting others.

·      Continue cutting remaining fabrics until all are cut and matched up.

·      Sew together semi-circles with ¼” seam allowance (right sides together). Take care to make sure corners are well defined with stitches. Stitch all the way to the edge to ensure sharper points.

Easy Christmas Napkins, The Tamara Blog

Easy Christmas Napkins, The Tamara Blog

·      Leave open 2” space for turning.

Easy Christmas Napkins, The Tamara Blog

·      Turn circles right-side-out. Tip: Use a pencil or fork to help make the corners sharp.

Easy Christmas Napkins, The Tamara Blog

Easy Christmas Napkins, The Tamara Blog

Easy Christmas Napkins, The Tamara Blog

·      Press each napkin and slip-stitch closed the open space.

Easy Christmas Napkins, The Tamara Blog

To present the napkins, start with the non-tree side facing up. Fold over about half way, then back, then back again. Adjust folds as needed.

Easy Christmas Napkins, The Tamara Blog

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2015-11-27 12.52.52

Green Scroll Napkin - The Tamara Blog

As you can see, these beauties can be made to be formal or whimsical, depending on your fabric choices. And they don’t have to be exclusively Christmas decorations. The trees could be made in fall colors for Thanksgiving, or white and green to be used all winter long.  Use your imagination, and enjoy!

Winter White Napkin - The Tamara Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 


Delicious and Beautiful Pear & Apple Cheeseballs

Beautiful and delicious Pear and Apple cheese balls, a great fall appetizer

Fruit Shaped Cheeseballs The Tamara Blog

Come on… who doesn’t love a cheese ball? They’re fun to eat, and easy to make. Being a bit of a cheeseball myself, I have a particular affinity for these orbs o’ dairy.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking, “Cheese balls in Autumn?! Heaven forfend! Everyone knows National Cheese Ball day is April 17th. What kind of celebration enthusiast are you, Tamara?”

In truth, I have no idea why cheese ball day is in April. Makes no sense. These lactose spheres are perfect for football parties, I mean… in my family, we call October the beginning of cheese ball season! So, if you’re going to eat ’em in autumn, why not serve ’em in fall-fruit form?

Apple and Pear shaped cheese balls, printable recipe. 

P1080803

Apple Cheese Ball

  • 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (must be finely grated)
  • 1 Tbs. apple brandy
  • 1 Tbs. apple jelly or apple butter
  • 2 cups fried onions
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • branch and leaves for garnish

P1080784

Pear Cheese Ball

  • 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 5 oz. crumbled gorgonzola or blue cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbs. pear jam or jelly
  • 1 Tbs. pear brandy
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans
  • yellow food coloring
  • branch and leaves for garnish

Ingredients note:

You can use flavored liquors instead of brandy — it’s just that the brandy has a richer, fuller flavor than a liquor.

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Process:

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, butter and cheddar or gorgonzola cheese. Beat with a hand mixer or stand mixer until fluffy.

Add in jam and brandy, and beat until combined.

Place mixture in refrigerator while working on next step.

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2015-09-25 13.47.00

For Apple cheese ball:

Place fried onions in a ziplock bag and crush finely.

Add smoked paprika, and toss/knead to combine.

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For Pear cheese ball:

Toast walnuts/pecans in a dry frying pan over medium heat, or in the broiler, until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Once cool, chop nuts finely (you can use a food processor for this step). Add 8 to 12 drops of yellow food coloring, if desired.

Place mixed coating in a small bowl.

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Remove cheese mixture from the refrigerator and shape into desired form with your hands. Cheese mixture can also be placed in plastic wrap and molded, to keep hands clean.

Once a rough apple or pear form is achieved, drop cheese ball into bowl with coating, and press coating into the surface, refining fruit shape as you go.

After cheese ball is formed, add decorative leaves, and display.

Apple and Pear Shaped Cheese Balls

These can be refrigerated for 2 days, or frozen for up to a month. Be sure to allow time to thaw before serving. No one wants a tooth chipped by chilled cheddar.

Enjoy these glorious globes of cheese, an homage to the fromage in you!

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The Essential Back-To-School “Emergency” Kit for Teachers

The Essential Teacher "emergency" kit -- The Tamara Blog

I have two sisters, both teachers (and a slew of cousins who are too!). One works at an elementary school, the other at a high school. Their jobs make for a fun summer for us all, but come August, they dread going back.

Not that they dislike their jobs, but come on… don’t we all hate the end of summer?

SomeEcards

One sister (the lucky one) lives nearby. When she started to feel the pull of the job, I figured that she needed a little care-package/emergency kit before the hustle and bustle of the new school year began. This is a great gift for friends or relatives, or other teachers you know. In my opinion, teachers tend to be highly under-appreciated, so any little token that acknowledges how hard they work goes a long way. So does a little humor.

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

Here is my take on the Back to School Emergency Kit for Teachers. I figure all the items need to be useful or fun, and all can go for male or female teachers. And if they’re things the teacher won’t think of, all the better. My remedies come in 4 categories: Wellness, Getting Through the Day, Luxuries, & After Work. No school supplies here. And nearly all of them came from my local drug store.

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

  • Wellness: Lozenges, hand sanitizer, Emergen-C, tissues.
  • Getting Through the Day: Pain reliever, energy snacks, antacids, Tea/Coffee packets, chocolate-covered espresso beans, peanut-butter packets, single-serving cereals, coffee gift cards.
  • Little Luxuries: Calming hand lotion, aromatherapy items, chocolate, microwave popcorn.
  • After Work: Single servings of wine, fuzzy socks, a good novel, meditation music.

Find printable labels here from a template by World Labels. (World Labels has fantastic designs, for free!)

While these are already designed, you have to cut out each label individually. If you’d prefer to design your own labels, you can find the pre-cut stickers as well as the label template here.

Kit Tags

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

Obviously the wine can’t go with the teacher to school (nor can it be presented on school grounds — use your own discretion), but some of the other items will end up in desk drawers, for whenever they’re needed.

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

Get a container, start gathering goodies and pack it up. Print the labels (be sure to set your printer to “actual size” when printing the pdf), and cut and arrange. I promise you, the gift, and the thought behind it, will be very well received!

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

She Loves the Kit -- Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

She loves it!

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

 

Enjoy!


National Wine Day May 25

May 25th is National Wine Day. So how about doing some cooking with wine?

In my Tamara Twist Champagne episode I have several ideas for cooking with wine.

Wine Poached Artichokes — they’re so good!

Champagne Poached Artichokes, The Tamara Twist

Bellini Popsicles. A refreshing grown-up take on a summer treat.

Bellini Popsicles

Champagne Jello Jigglers

Champagne Jigglers -- The Tamara Twist

 

Enjoy the day, and do it responsibly!