Tag Archives: Tutorials

Thanksgiving Altered Books

Fran's book

(All the pictures in this post are of Fran’s book. Right now, we’re having computer problems, so I can’t download photos from our camera, but I can scan things in. Hopefully soon I can post the photos and will update this post when I do.)

My sister, our friend Abby (The Paper Engineer) and I made altered Thanksgiving books. The ones I made were for Fran and Abby; Fran’s were for Abby and me, and of course, Abby’s were for Fran and me.

(Click on the photos for a bigger view. I’ve found that posting them as thumbnails takes a fraction of the time to upload.)


The only rule was that they were to be books about giving thanks. Fran’s book for me is completely different from the ones I made and I really like it. (We weren’t able to get together to exchange with Abby yet so I can’t describe hers now – I haven’t seen it.) She made her cover out of cardboard and covered it with brown toile fabric. She used orange rings for binding it together and tied pieces of ribbon onto the rings.

Stella Edens Thanksgiving poem, circa 1956


The story behind the poem is that when my sister was waiting for the bus to come, she told my mother that she was supposed to take a Thanksgiving poem to school – that day.  So, my mother the poet wrote one just like that.

Two of the pages in this book were from orange file folders that she cut in half.  These will really come in handy for tucking in Thanksgiving recipes, clippings,  memories, etc.


Then she took fall leaves and laminated them, punched holes for the binding and attached topaz (my birthstone) rhinestones on the pages.  There are several pages of the laminated leaves and she placed the rhinestones so they could all be viewed at once when looking at the first page.

For Abby’s book,  I used an Altoids tin and sponged gold paint all over it, then lined the edges with dictionary pages, cut with a deckle-edged pair of scissors.  For the message, I accordion folded brown paper, glued it to the bottom inside and listed on each fold something for which I am thankful for. /p>  On the top side I glued a piece of autumn looking alcohol inked paper and stamped ears of corn and the words:  Give Thanks.  The bottom of the tin has another piece of the dictionary page glued on.  The embellishments were cutouts of leaves, pumpkins and rubber stampings.

For my sister’s book,  I wanted to do something different.  Fran and I both like Dick and Jane books – very pleasant memories there. My theme for her book was the child’s prayer “Thank You for the Food We Eat”.

I photocopied illustrations that I could use for each line of the prayer from a Dick and Jane reader (alas, not an original. They are $90.00 at the antique mall. This was a reproduction I bought at Wall-Mart). It’s too difficult to cut them out exactly, so I left a border of white as I cut them out and distressed them with a yellow chalk pad. Then I enlarged the wording from the reader on the copier, and printed off a couple of pages, distressed them with the yellow chalk and a blue ink pad. Using a glue stick, I attached them to cardboard squares cut from a Coke carton to duplicate chipboard, then punched 3 holes along the side of each one for to lace the ribbon for binding.  Then using the glue stick, I attached the illustrating pictures to the enlarged wording.

Remember the old tablets we used when learning to print – the ones with the solid and blue dashed lines? I had a piece of that from a scrapbook store that my sister had given me, but I’ve never seen any in a store and didn’t want to use it as an original. In my stash I had some regular copy paper that I had tea-dyed. So I photocopied the penmanship paper onto the tea-dyed. It may be hard to see the blue lines on the photos, but they are there. I cut squares of this paper and used the glue stick to attach it to the cardboard for pages to face the illustration.

It would’ve been better to have had my grandson write the prayer out for me, but I didn’t plan far enough ahead. Somewhere I had read that you can duplicate a young child’s printing by using your left hand, so that’s what I did using a pencil.

For binding I used blue gingham ribbon.  The colors of this book were not the autumn earth tones, but I think it’ll be more versatile this way, and the blue was one of the main colors in both the illustrations and the penmanship paper.

I really like making the chipboard pages, it gives the book a nice heft and feel.  Also, just a few pages are thick enough for it to stand alone.  A few weeks ago on a craft blog (I’ll insert link when I can remember where I first saw it), the author had made a Christmas book using scraps of paper and embellishments on one of those black and white speckled notebooks.

Building upon her idea, I decided to make myself one.  But since I really liked the chipboard feel, I’ve used that concept.  I’ll keep recipes,  card lists,  a gift list and all sorts of Christmasy things in it.  When we get our photos to load, I’ll post them.

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Filed under Altered Books, Autumn, Crafts - Paper, Thanksgiving

Snickerdoodles (and sort of a cookie tutorial)

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This recipe for cinnamon cookies came from a Bryan Chapel (Oklahoma) cookbook which my husband’s grandmother gave me in 1974. It is probably the most inexpensive cookie I make.

A little attention to detail and you can make cookies every bit as good as your favorite bakery. Probably better.

Snickerdoodles
(Makes about 3 dozen.)
~Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

2 eggs
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 c. vegetable oil (not olive oil)
~Mix together very thoroughly (it will look creamy).

2 2/3 c. flour
2 t. cream of tartar (if you don’t have cream of tartar, see * below)
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
~Sift together and add to creamed mixture, just until blended. Do not overmix.

2 T. white sugar
1 T. cinnamon
~Stir together in a small bowl and set aside.

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~Form dough into 1″ balls, then roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture and place 2″ apart on parchment lined cookie sheet.

~Place on middle rack in oven (only 1 tray at a time). Set timer for 10 minutes.

~After timer goes off, turn tray around and set timer for an additional 5 minutes. (see * below)

~When done, slide paper off onto table and allow cookies to cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack.

*****Notes*******
If you’re an experienced baker, then you may know everything I’ve written in this section. Most of it I’ve learned from making thousands of cookies. Please don’t be put off by how detailed this is. Baking good homemade cookies is not difficult but it does take focus. I’ve had some real disasters by trying to do something else while I bake, thereby being distracted enough not to set the timer, or thinking that a couple of extra minutes won’t hurt anything (when I haven’t even checked on them). Believe me, it matters. A good recipe is merely where you begin – it’s no guarantee of a good cookie.

*Most recipes call for an oven temperature of 350, but I’ve found that 300-325 (only you know your own oven) with a longer baking time (and turning the tray) gets better results.
*Shortening was listed in the original recipe, but I rarely use it and find that vegetable oil works great. It’s perfectly fine if you prefer it, but the texture and taste will change some.
*If you don’t have any cream of tartar, you can substitute 2 t. baking powder and eliminate the baking soda. This will change the flavor a little.
*I learned from America’s Test Kitchen to NOT overmix cookie dough after adding the flour. It will result in a cake-like texture, rather than a cookie one. Before learning this, I knew that sometimes I got that fluffy texture, but I didn’t know why. Just mix thoroughly, then stop.
*The original recipe calls for equal parts of cinnamon and sugar to roll the balls in, and sometimes I do but it will make them very cinnamony and darker.
*You don’t have to use parchment paper. You can lightly grease or Pam the baking sheet, but it will change slightly the way the cookie browns. I’m not much on buying speciality stuff for the kitchen, but I really like the result I get when using parchment paper. Before placing the paper down, I flick a few drops of water onto the baking sheet. This helps to prevent the paper from sliding around and landing the cookies onto the floor. This has happened to me.
*Placing them 2″ apart will allow them to expand without melding into each other.
*Another important lesson I learned by myself (and it was confirmed by America’s Test Kitchen) is to never bake more than 1 tray at a time. I don’t know why this is true, I just know that it is. For years, I’d bake 2 sheets at a time (or more if they were smaller) thinking that it would save both time and energy. Then each tray would turn out differently and some were just awful. As I’ve said before, science is not my forte and this sounds like a physics question. I’ll ask my husband.
*They’ll be puffy when you remove them from the oven, then deflate slightly.
*This part is just observation, not science: I can’t tell you exactly how long to bake them. This morning when I checked them after the second timer, they were still doughy in the middle and I put them back in for another 4 minutes, then they were just right. I had to break one in half to check it. To me, the best texture for Snickerdoodles is slightly crispy on the outside and chewy (not underdone) in the middle. There again, bake them to your own preferences.
*Sliding the parchment paper off of the cookie sheet prevents them from continuing to bake a little after removing from the oven. Placing them on a drying rack helps them to cool without drawing moisture to the bottoms and becoming soggy or heavy.

Now, let’s get the coffee started.
(This post linked to Food on Fridays http://annkroeker.wordpress.com/)

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Filed under Baking, Cookies, Cooking, Food, Recipes

September Door Decoration

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Fall is my favorite season. Here in north Texas it’s a real relief after summer. Just a few weeks ago it was 107 degrees, so I’m thankful even when the mercury goes down into the 80s.

So to celebrate, I wanted something to put on our front door, but I’m on a spending diet; going to Hobby Lobby and buying a gorgeous autumn wreath is out. What could I make?

What I came up with is not only cheap, it was almost free. I had everything on hand I needed, or more correctly, I decided to use only what I already had.

Apple Wreath

1. Fold a stiff piece of junk mail in half and cut out the shape of an apple 4″ tall. This was my stencil. Unfold and smooth it out, placing it on an ironed piece of heavy brown paper sack.

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2. Pour a small amount of white acrylic paint on a saucer, and using a stipple brush, stencil 10 apples. After they’re dry (and it doesn’t take very long), draw outside the white around 1/4″ with a medium Sharpie. Include a wide stem at the top of the apple when drawing the shape. Using a narrow brush and red paint, fill in the area between the white and black line. Cut out. Using either the Sharpie or some brown paint (I used black but I think brown would’ve been better), paint on some seeds.

3. After all that the stencil should be dry; if it isn’t cut another one (it should be slightly larger than the one used for the inside of the apple). Stencil another 10 apples, this time in red. When dry, outline with the Sharpie, remembering to include a stem. Cut out.
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4. For the leaves I drew out a basic leaf shape and traced it onto green construction paper. At 2 leaves per apple, the cutting out part was going to get tedious, so I tri-folded the paper. It was easy to cut this way because construction paper is so soft. Then I folded or bent the leaves before gluing them onto the stems to give it a little dimension. Use whatever glue you want (I think I used plain old Elmer’s) and place them on both sides of each stem.

5. For the base wreath I drew around a dinner plate onto cardboard; then used a smaller saucer inside and cut it out with my kitchen shears. (If you think the cardboard might show, go ahead and paint the ring red. This will probably take a little while to dry.)
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6. Before gluing anything down, space the red apples evenly around the wreath. Now glue them. Again, I used Elmer’s. Place the “cut apples” on top between the red ones.

7. Tie a piece of ribbon or jute around the top and hang on the door.

This would make a good project for children old enough to use scissors.

(This project is linked to Make Do Mondays

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Filed under Crafts - Paper, Using What You Have