Bake

Thankful for…

Greetings!  Thanksgiving is done and the Christmas season is well and truly upon us.  I can tell by the fact that I have no shopping done and a big order to get out the door.  This is just a quick hello to share a picture my oldest zombie child drew at our second Thanksgiving.  I especially enjoy the spelling and the projectile falling on the turkey. Happy busy season to you all!

 

 

thankful

And on the back side….

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Queen Elsa Fondant Crowns

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A very special queen I know turned 5 and like every other 3 to 8 year old girl in the world, she chose a Frozen themed party – with good reason obviously…I mean, have you seen that movie?!!  To honor such an occasion, I decided to make a very special cupcake topper befitting of royalty.  If you know me at all, you know I don’t like to spend a lot of time on toppers or decorations that don’t actually taste good but sometimes, you have to bend your rules a little when trying to impress a 5 year old.  My suggestion is to make a few of these as centerpieces and spend the rest of your precious time on something like these sugar cookie snowflake toppers that are delicious and easy!

I chose to make small crowns to top a mini cake but using this same tutorial you could make any size topper you wish.  If you’re new to the fondant game then give yourself a few weeks on these.  Chances are, you will break a few accidentally and then you’ll probably smash a few on purpose out of anger and disgust.  Not speaking from personal experience there…

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Marshmallow Fondant Elsa Crowns

I used this Marshmallow Fondant recipe.  It keeps forever so there is no reason you can’t start early on these puppies.

I used this stencil for the crowns and sized it down for cupcake toppers – 2.5×3.75 inches is just about right for a cupcake.  I also tweaked it a bit to remove some of the more intricate parts because they kept breaking off while working with them.  If you are more patient or skilled than I am, please feel free to use the stencil as is.

Using an exacto knife, cut out the stencil on card stock paper.

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Lightly dust your rolling surface with powder sugar and roll out your fondant to 1/8 inch.  Lightly dust the top of the fondant with powder sugar as well.image

Using a flat, hard surface, press the stencil into the fondant.  I used this small cutting board and it worked perfectly.  It should leave an impression for you to easily follow.

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Using an exacto knife, cut out the crown.

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Put the crown on a small piece of parchment paper and allow to air dry for 48 hours on a curved surface, such as a small soda can, baking powder can, pill bottle, etc.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a pic of this step but it is a tricky one because when items with curved surfaces are laid on their sides, they tend to roll.  Duh, I know.  I finally figured out a strategy which involved cushioning the item between the coffee maker and the counter but you are just going to have to work out that bit for yourself.

Once dry, lightly spray the crown with Wilton gold spray.  Do NOT soak the crown.  Too much moisture weakens the fondant and it will break.  I found the best luck with lightly spraying the surface and then using a fan brush to evenly distribute the color.

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Allow the gold spray to dry completely.  I found they stayed sticky for quite a while so allowing to dry 12 hours is probably your best bet.  Once dry, apply a layer of gold pearl dust with a fan brush.  This helps to even out the appearance and is there such a thing as too much sparkle for a five year old?  The answer is no.

The Crown Jewel

Blue Raspberry Jolly Ranchers

Diamond or oblong mini cookie or fondant cutter.

Aluminum foil and vegetable oil

Candy cupcake topper method found here.

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Apply the jewel to the crown while it is still warm and you will be able to gently shape it into the right curve for the crown.  Also, if applied while the candy is still slightly warm it will adhere to the crown without any need for royal icing or piping gel to affix it.  I’m all about eliminating steps.

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Sister Craft completely dominated the Frozen birthday party which featured a 15 minute play, homemade costumes, a snow cone machine, beautiful handmade decorations and one seriously happy 5 year old birthday girl!  I’m seriously considering hiring her for my next birthday…Little Mermaid theme?!!  Yes, please!

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Frozen Birthday Wrap-Up

Well, the madness is finally over.  Now I just have 1 more Halloween costume to sew and a craft show in November and one in December to get ready for,  and a baby gift for a dear friend and a long promised baby gift for a new niece and laundry and cooking and school work and…you get the idea.  It never really ends but I’m feeling a little less stress now that the birthday is done.  Yay!

 

So, the birthday went like this.  I went up on the Friday before and decorated the party room at my parent’s house (thanks mom!)

 

ballerina

 

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I found some ballerina shapes online and cut them out on my Silhouette machine (I love my Silhouette).  The skirts of the dancers are napkins stripped down to 1-ply and taped on, thread through the head and hung in the ceiling with a pin.  I did some skirts with doily’s but I was unimpressed with them. They didn’t drape like I wanted.  I also did some Anna and Elsa outlines you can see in the picture below.

 

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The snowflakes are, surprise, doily’s!  I just folded them up like you do paper that you make into snowflakes and cut designs into them by hand.  Voila! Easy snowflake.

 

 

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The stage I made in September out of an old pallet my dad had.  We cut it to give it shape and screwed some plywood to the top and I painted it a blinding white so it looked like snow.  It worked out pretty well actually.    The scenery behind it was hand painted by me (with a new kitten and a 2 yr old running around, I might add)  Although I’m not an artist, I feel like I did okay representing what I had in mind.

 

 

The first picture is the ballroom filled with snow, the second is Elsa’s Ice Castle and the third scene is Arendelle Castle all happy again.  I used a combination of water colors and acrylics on bulletin board paper.  I taped the scenery to two pvc pipes and  slid those over top two poles fastened to bases.  My dad added a railing to the top of the poles for stability but it was still pretty wobbly.  Oh well, live and learn.

 

 

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Our lovely cake table ready for deliciousness.  I made the tree decorations.  One is doily’s (you guessed that didn’t you?) I cut a hole in middle and slid them over a spray painted cardboard cone. Just cut bigger holes at the bottom layers and smaller as you go up. One of the trees was my attempt at a feather tree and the other is just modge podge and white glitter and sprayed with sealer.  I did a blue one the same way and it turned out nice

 

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The cones were bought at Michael’s for cheap, like 2.50 a cone.  Much better priced than styrofoam ones.

 

 

Costumes:

 

 

We did a couple of practice runs on the play and fitted costumes that I had hand drafted and sewn.  The only alteration needed was on Anna’s skirt, it was a bit large in the waist.  Easy to fix.  Fixed that on Saturday while sewing up and shipping out two aprons.  I’m a multi-tasker.

 

 

Anna’s bodice is hand drafted by moi, I was shocked it fit even slightly.  I did the embroidery on the velvet with my machine, not heirloom quality but enough to get by.

 

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Her skirt is a really cut down adult skirt pattern that still wasn’t small enough for her tiny waist.

Olaf was a tshirt with black circles painted on and a fleece carrot nose stuffed with fiber fill.

Kristoff was a grey fleece vest with burgundy binding at the neck.

Elsa’s dress was made from the Simplicity pattern a few months ago.

The queen and king got sashes with a Q and K on them and wore borrowed finery under them.

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Saturday night we loaded up everything we had left and trekked back up to the parents.  My lovely sister-in-law Sarah helped to frost the box-mix cakes I had made earlier in the day.  I am absolutely awful at frosting cakes.  I just don’t have that skill. That’s why I’m Craft and not Bake..

 

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Speaking of Bake, she made some of the most amazingly delicious cupcakes I’ve ever had.  Chocolate with chocolate ganache icing and strawberry (with strawberry mousse filling, omg!) and cream cheese icing. They both were topped with delicate snowflakes made from candy melts and brushed with pearl dust,  and she made melt in your mouth sugar cookies with mint icing.  Ridiculously good, people.  The most amazing thing she made was a marshmallow fondant version of Elsa’s crown, complete with melted candy jewel….blown away..

 

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p.s. Stay tuned for a tutorial on the Elsa Crown!

 

Anyway, (wipes drool from mouth) the play went well despite some minor scenery malfunctions.  All the kids were excited to be in it and I kept the lines they needed to remember to one or two each.  After the play we ate and did presents and cake and snow cones!  All together a smashing birthday party.  A big thank you to everyone for helping set up and tear down and for all the presents!

 

 

It’s feeling a little chilly in here….

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No, really.

It’s feeling a little chilly

….Hmm…wonder if the air conditioning is set too low.

Oh…that’s the problem..

 

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I have an Elsa in my house..

 

 

I hear you can’t keep those things out this time of year…

 

 

And this one has

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Ice Powers!

 

I’ve been looking around for a way to represent Ice Powers (safely) and this was the solution I came up with.  Tutorial Incoming!

 

Step 1.  Get some balls!

 

ballsThese were just perfect for the job.  I found them in the sports aisle at Target for $4.99 for 12 (or 24, I can’t remember)

 

Step 2.  Get some pretty Elsa fabric!

 

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I have TONS of this kind of stuff right now.  I’ve been buying bunches of different ones trying to find ones that are Elsa enough so I have a lot to choose from.

 

Step 3.  Cut some squares!

I made mine 7 x 7 because I had a handy template that size.    Place a ball in the middle of your square.

 

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Step 4. Gather up the material around the ball and twist it slightly.  I did a blue layer and a silver layer on the outside.  Like this

 

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Step 5.  Thread a needle and poke it through the center of your twist, bring it out the other side and wrap it around the outside 4 or 5 times, then sew through the middle 2 or 3 times and break thread.

 

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Step 6.  Cut some ribbons however long you want them to be.  Tie around gathered fabric and knot a couple of times.

 

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Step 7.  Give them to Elsa and watch out!

 

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I may have mentioned previously that we are doing a Frozen birthday party for the Zombie girl this year so this is just the first of the madness that is coming up.  I can’t wait to watch the kids play Freeze Tag with these!

If you aren’t a sewer/sewist, hot glue should work just as well for this project.  After I made the first one I experimented with different things.  I stuffed the rest of the balls with scraps of the silver material and tied ribbons into the holes and then fabric around the outside, twisted and sewn so they would be weighted ever so slightly more.  The only complaint I have is how visible the balls are, if I made them again I would use a non-sheer square in the middle and then sheers over top.  Happy Ice Power making to you!

Mind Grapes

imageAs I pick up the same basket of toys for the five brazillianth time today, I think: ‘Am I going crazy?  This is literally something a crazy person would do, keep picking up the same basket of toys knowing full well that it will be dumped again in five seconds.  But I Just. Can’t. Stop.  Because if I stop then what?  I’ll die?  No, that’s not right.  If I stop, I’ll turn into one of those Hoarding: Buried Alive people and I’ll have to adopt 35 stray cats.  But the fireplace repairman will judge me if he sees toys on the floor?  What would he think – that a toddler lives here?!!  Wait, that is accurate.  Do I care what this stranger thinks of me?  Yes?  No?  I really need to go to Target.  I hope he doesn’t take forever.  Is it rude to take a picture of someone without them knowing it and post it online?  Probably.’imageSorry this picture is blurry and poorly framed.  I was really afraid he was going to turn around and bust me.  Awkward.

That was just a 30 second glimpse of my mind grapes.  It’s a scary place in there…

In other news, we transitioned the little honey pile (that’s a term of endearment right?) to a big boy bed last weekend.  It looked like this for one glorious minute:imageSince then he’s been falling off the bed at least once a night, which means waking up to a screaming toddler.  I come back to bed after getting him settled and say to my husband:

‘How are we ever going to get back to sleep after that?’
‘Snore.  Snore.  Snort’.

The last one definitely sounded more like a snort.  Reminiscent of the newborn days, eh?

We attempted two different kinds of bed rails (do you care about this? Probably not.) that both had to be sent back because they aren’t compatible with our bed.  Bed rails only work if a) you have a box spring or b) your mattress is perfectly flush with the frame.  If not, it looks like this:

imageSee the gap?  No good.

But there is a solution – these puppies!  They’re inflatable guard rails that go under the fitted sheet.  The come with a really useful hand pump (took about 20 seconds to inflate) and they have grip strips on the bottom that keep them in place.imageimageThey actually work really damn well aaaaand it doesn’t take away from the cute pottery barn kids bedding you love, and your toddler doesn’t give a shit about!

Anyway, I should probably go.  I’ve been typing this on my phone and not engaging my child the whole time the fireplace repairman has been here…I wonder if he thinks I’m a bad mom?  I better go pick up those toys.

Do You Want to Test a Pattern?

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Come on let’s go and sew! 

This is so brand new

I wonder if a test you’ll do?

 

Okay, maybe a lyrical stretch but it was worth a try!  And I do need a couple of pattern testers willing to sew up an apron.  If you have (or know) a little girl (2-6 yrs old) who loves Frozen and aprons and you have successfully sewn from commercial patterns this would be a good fit for you!  Please contact me at:    c r a f t  at craftbakeenvy.com.  (I left spaces between the letters so the bots won’t collect this address and abuse it like they have  the other one, take them out when you type it in.)  This is my first try at doing PDF patterns so there will likely be plenty of things I’ll need to improve. Thanks in advance!

Apple Cider Syrup

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Thanks to this heavenly little concoction, I’m one step closer to a fall treat that is so near and dear to my heart that it actually has me thinking fondly of Wisconsin, where I discovered it at a local apple orchard (the Apple Cider Doughnut – coming soon!) but I can’t seem to find it here in Indiana.  I know it’s not fancy or exotic but in my opinion, it just isn’t fall until I’ve had six one of these puppies.

The only thing that this recipe really requires is time and trust me, it’s worth it.  It’s one of those minimal effort, super easy recipes that you can totally use it to make your “friends” jealous.  Here’s what you do: invite a friend over…your house will smell unbelievable as she walks in to find you in an adorable hand-crafted apron, you nonchalantly mention you are making apple cider syrup for homemade apple cider doughnuts for your dear family, your perfect child playing quietly at your feet.  Trust me, she will hate you for it.  You’re welcome.image

Apple Cider Syrup (Boiled Apple Cider)

makes about 1/2 cup syrup

½ gallon fresh, local apple cider

Large, Heavy bottom sauce pan

Bring cider to boil over high heat.  Monitor closely at this point so it doesn’t boil over, like this:

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Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to boil, uncovered for 3+ hours.  Stir occasionally.  Mixture should thinly coat the back of a spoon when finished.

Tip: If you’re boiled apple cider sets up thick, transfer mixture to microwavable dish, thin with some water or apple juice and microwave on 30 second intervals until liquid.

That’s it.  Now you have unlocked the magic to a treasure trove of apple-y fall time treats.  Muffins, cakes, doughnuts, pancakes, bread, even pulled pork – all that much better with this little bit of liquid love.

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Chocolate Pretzel Tartlets with Peanut Butter Whipped Cream

I read a quote in a book (yes, I read books) that says “if you don’t know what you’re doing with your life, your only job is to sit down and not move until you figure out what you should be doing”. Something about that really appealed to my lazy nature so that is what I’ve been doing these last few weeks.  Sitting, thinking and reading.  And some of this:image

Ok, I know that was just gratuitous cute toddler filler but I couldn’t resist.

Through my soul-searching I realized that while baking/blogging may not be my great contribution to humanity, that’s no reason to drop it entirely and who knows what it could blossom into.  It’s fun and sometimes I’m good at it so why not?  Anyway, I’m not the kind of person that can do nothing for very long so it’s either this or get knocked up again out of sheer boredom.  Also, we’re coming up on baking season and I’m powerless against the pull of warm, delicious fall desserts like apple danishes and pumpkin muffins….bear claws…doughnuts…hot cider…you get the idea.

For now, enjoy this little contribution to the cause.  The peanut butter whipped cream alone is dessert heaven.

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Crust

Makes about 4-5 3.5 inch tarts or 6-8 2.5 inch tarts

½ stick unsalted butter, softened

½ cup plus 2 tbsp crushed pretzels

¼ cup plus 2 tbsp powdered sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ large egg*

1-2 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, melted

Coarsely crush pretzels.  You can use a food processor if you have one or you can just throw them in a Ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin like this:

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In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar on medium (either hand-held or mixer) until creamy.  Reduce speed to low and add in ¼ cup of crushed pretzels.  Add in the flour and egg and continue to mix on low to incorporate.  *To halve an egg: beat egg in small dish until bubbles appear.  Weigh egg on kitchen scale and measure out half for recipe.  You can also eyeball it if you don’t have a kitchen scale.

Add in remaining pretzels and mix until fully combined.

Flatten dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350.image

Remove dough from refrigerator.  Press small amounts of dough into the mini fluted tart pans (about 1 tablespoon amount for 2.5 inch pan and 2 tablespoons for 3.5 inch pan).  Prick dough with a fork. Bake 2.5 inch tarts for 10-12 minutes and 3.5 inch tarts for 12-14 minutes.

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Remove tarts from oven and allow to cool completely.  Remove from tart pans and brush the insides of tarts with melted dark chocolate.  Place in refrigerator to set.

imageFilling

4 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate, finely chopped

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

½ cup heavy cream

1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar

½ teaspoon espresso powder

1/8 teaspoon fine salt

Put chocolate and butter in small medium bowl and set aside.

Heat cream, sugar and salt in small saucepan on medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to simmer.  Remove from heat and stir in espresso powder.  Pour mixture over chocolate and butter, cover with foil and let sit for 5 minutes.  Whisk until smooth.  Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.  Pour mixture into prepared tart shells and chill in refrigerator until set 2-4 hours.

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Peanut Butter Whipped Cream Topping

Chill mixing bowl and beaters in freezer 15 minutes prior to preparing

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2-3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Beat heavy whipping cream on medium until soft peaks form.  Add sugar, peanut butter and vanilla extract and continue to beat until stiff.

Assembly

Pipe whipped cream onto chilled chocolate tarts and top with chocolate dipped pretzels and coarse sea salt.

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This really is one of those desserts that looks impressive but is deceptively easy and it’s the perfect make-ahead for a dinner party, since it has to chill for 2-4 hours anyway.  Hope you enjoy!

Now with more Crafting!

Well, things have settled down a bit now that school is back in session so time to catch up with the blog.

I did a few more Farmers Markets and got some custom orders.  I think I might go back when it cools off a bit around here.

Here is the proof that it’s not all Crafting bliss over here. This summer we did a renovation on the zombie’s room and put in a new useable closet. It was a horrible narrow closet that was completely unusable for anything but long term junk storage so we demo’d an old plaster and lathe wall and built a new closet. On one of the other walls the wallpaper seams were really visible through the paint so we peeled 70 year old wallpaper off of it until it was paintable.

Here is the Wallpaper shots.  It was from the Lucky Star Wallpaper Company. At least 3 layers probably more like 6

 

And the Reveal shots (pretend it’s all clean and professionally staged)

So glad that project is done. I’m glad we built in long term storage above the closet (just need to organize it a bit better).

 

My oldest zombie turned 8 and we had an awesome Lego Star Wars birthday party up at Grandmas.  That Death Star on the table is filled with candy.  It was a really easy pinata to make.

 

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We also rented a bouncy water slide for the zombie children (although, a certain Bake and Craft may have gone down it once or twice too)

swarsbday2As usual, I was having so much fun hanging out that I didn’t get many pictures.  There was an awesome lightsabre battle that has little photographic evidence, if I find some I’ll post it.

 

 

I had someone from Austria contact me about a quilt order (very cool!)  I have it listed on Etsy as a reserved item.

This was a nice challenging project and I feel it helped me develop my skills a bit which is always a good thing.  I did a lot of free motion quilting and finally feel semi-competent at that. Practiced my perspective with the cafe table and the bench and feel like I’m finally getting the hang of perspective in applique, it’s really quite tricky.  I do commission work, so if anyone sees anything they like, my contact info is on the side bar.

 

And the zombie girl started preschool so that means 3 hours of quiet(er) time a day. Woohoo!

 

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She has an October birthday coming up and she has decreed that she will be Queen Elsa from Frozen and have a stage and a microphone to sing and perform at her party.  Good thing the room project has sharpened my skills with power tools.  I’ll be posting about all that madness, I have no doubt.

Oh, and about the title change.  Bake has decided to hang up her apron for a bit and spare herself and her family some weight gain.  She’ll pop back in from time to time so keep your eyes peeled. You never know when a delicious project might get posted!

 

Edit:

BAKE IS BACK!

 

 

 

Bits and Pieces

Hey there!  Well, time to catch you up on news from here.  A couple of weekends ago I had my Farmer’s Market debut.  The husband took all 3 zombies up to my parents Friday night and camped out with them so I could have no distractions while I got everything ready.  That was very nice!

The day of the market my wonderful sister and partner in crime came down and helped me set up my little table(her husband helped too).  I was a wreck….  switching between hysterical crying and hysterical laughter and hyperventilating the rest of the time.  We set up the display with the tablecloth I had made and the thrifted baskets I had spray painted up for the occasion.  I was so nervous I didn’t take a single picture with my camera but Bake managed to grab some shots for me.

 

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In this picture you can see the whole set up.  I brought out my quilt rack and my dress form to help display the goods and they worked out really well.

You can see the products a little better in this shot

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I had pot holders, crocheted edge receiving blankets, plain receiving blankets, minky blankets, quilts, pincushions, chalkboard pennant bunting, bias tape, utility aprons and half aprons for sale.

There was a fair amount of interest in the aprons but no purchases so the price on those will drop a bit I think.  The potholders sold really well (only 1 left at the end of the day), the pincushions were also popular (stuffed with walnut shells).  The gift bag you see there on the back of the table was made by me too. I cut down some paper bags and sewed on handles and stenciled a sewing machine design on them.  I really feel that presentation is a big part of setting yourself apart from your competition so I put time into making the bags even though not a lot of people took one.

 

 

bizcards

These are the business cards I had printed up at a Staples here with same day service. I’m not 100% pleased with them but I ran out of time for ordering online so you take what you can get.  I’ll be ordering a bit nicer cards here soon.

All in all it was a good (if nerve wracking) experience.  I definitely learned a bit about what works (pot holders, pincushions) and what doesn’t (bias tape, chalkboard buntings) so I feel like I can refocus efforts where they pay off more and add products that fall along those lines. I have a bit of time off because the husband is doing his 2 week annual training (no babysitter) so I’m using this time to work up new products and restock so I can go back and kick some more ass!

 

Thanks Bake for coming down and seeing me through it. You’re the best!

 

mebrit