Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pumpkin Creme Bruleé


I found myself with a partially used, ill-fated can of pumpkin.  So instead of letting it go to waste, I made Pumpkin Creme Bruleé!


You might be wondering, has Ashley ever made creme bruleé before?  And the answer is, without a doubt, no.  This was most definitely an experiment.

And no, I don't have a kitchen torch.  But don't let the lack of a kitchen torch scare you off from making creme bruleé.  You can get a similar hardened sugar effect using the broil setting on your oven!  

So I researched a few different Pumpkin Creme Bruleé recipes and what you see here is a compilation of them, as well as a bit of "winging it" with what I happened to have in my kitchen!  So I suppose you could say I sort of created this recipe.  And it was a fun and tasty adventure!

In any case, it is delicious and oh-so-delectable!  So if you  happen to have a partial used can of pumpkin leftover from last week, put it to good use and make some yummy Pumpkin Creme Bruleé!

Pumpkin Creme Bruleé
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 T granulated sugar

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Put water on to boil.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together vanilla, egg yolks, brown sugar, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice.
  4. Heat cream in small sauce pan until it starts to steam.
  5. Gradually pour heated cream into pumpkin mixture whisking quickly.  
  6. Skim off any foam.
  7. Place ramekins in a 9x13 pan.
  8. Pour creme bruleé mixture into ramekins.
  9. Carefully pour boiling water into 9x13 pan until water level reached about half way up the ramekins.
  10. Cover with foil and poke a few holes in the foil to allow steam to vent.
  11. Cook for approximately 30-45 minutes or until creme bruleé is set and the middle doesn't jiggle.
  12. When done, take out of oven and remove ramekins from water.
  13. Let cool for a bit then place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.  
  14. Top each ramekin with a one half to one tablespoon of granulated sugar evenly.
  15. Just before serving, use a culinary torch to bruleé the tops.  If you would like a thicker layer, you can repeat this process a second time.  If you do not have a culinary torch like me, set your oven to broil and place the ramekins on the top rack.  Be careful to let the sugar caramelize but not burn, approximately 2-3 minutes. 
  16. Serve immediately.      

I hope you enjoy your Pumpkin Creme Bruleé as much as I did.


Yum.  Yum.  Super Yum.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Shabby Apple Winner


Thank you to everyone who participated in my Shabby Apple Giveaway!

And the lucky winner is...



Congratulations Faith!  You have 3 days to email me at simplydesigning@gmail.com in order to claim your prize!

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My Memories - GIVEAWAY WINNERS


Thanks so all who participated in my MyMemories Scrapbooking software giveaway!

I am sad to say I have to pick another winner.

The new winner is....



Congratulations Jodi K!!

And my other winner who already responded is...

Congratulations Abbi!

Congratulations to and to Abbi!! You are my two fabulous winners!

You have 72 hours to contact me at simplydesigning@gmail.com in order to claim your prize!

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Simply Link {Party}





Thanks so much for stopping by the day after Thanksgiving to link up at my Link Party!

Did you get up early to shop??

I can't wait to see what you've created this week!



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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fox 59 News Segment - Thanksgiving


Just in case you were interested in a little last minute inspiration for next Thanksgiving, here is the segment I did for Fox 59 a week or so ago!  Enjoy!

http://www.fox59.com/videogallery/66130187/Entertainment/Hoosier-Holiday:-Thanksgiving-crafts#pl-66098676


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Turkey Treat Bags


Happy Thanksgiving!

Are you busy basting your turkey and cooking your yams?  I'm not.  We are going to a friend's house today who has so graciously asked me to bring neither a turkey nor yams.  However, I am certainly not going empty handed!

But if you are busy cooking, or just looking for a kid-friendly activity, here is a great little craft that is simple, quick and great for the kids to do!  This is a great way to keep the little ones busy while the turkey is cooking!


You will need:
  • Pretzel cello bags with twisty tie 
  • Candy (I used Reese's Pieces because I LOOOOOVE them, but you can use any kind of candy)
  • Yellow, Orange and Brown card stock
  • Low temp hot glue gun or Elmer's glue


Fill the cello bag with candy and secure top with twisty tie.  Cut feathers out of card stock, arrange as desired and glue them together.  Cut and glue eyes and beak to front of bag.  Then glue feathers to back of bag!


So simple and so cute!  What a fun project for the kids!

Happy Thanksgiving!

(I found this idea here at The Celebration Shoppe Blog.)

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cookie Exchange Party and a DownEast GIVEAWAY!!


I LOVE this time of year.  I love Thanksgiving, I love Christmas, and I love cookies.

Last year I hosted my first ever Cookie Exchange Party and it was a lot of fun!  I plan to host another one this year and I really really wish I could invite every single one of you to come!  Wouldn't that be so much fun!?

But since I can't, I am going to invite a few local friends and I have the CUTEST way to invite them this year!


DownEast Basics is currently selling the cutest Cookie Exchange Party Kit both in select stores and online!

With this kit you can:

  • Invite up to 12 friends to a Cookie Exchange Party
  • Write your own recipe on cute gingerbread man recipe card to give to all your guests
  • Package your cookies to take home in cellophane bags and tie with a gift tag and a ribbon
  • Display the name of each cookie type along with who baked them on cute red name cards
  • Select cookie contest winners using 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place stickers
And if you aren't planning to host a cookie exchange party, this would make a great holiday gift for a friend, neighbor, co-worker or teacher!

Here are a few more photos of what comes in the kit:

 
invitations

cookie name and made by cards

 
cookie recipe card                                   stickers                                   gift tag

Isn't the set so cute!!

DownEast Basics is selling this cookie kit at an AMAZING price: $4.99 each or $9.99 for three sets!  What an unbelievable price!

You also have the chance to WIN a COOKIE EXCHANGE PARTY KIT!!


Here's how to enter to win:
Leave one comment for each of the below entry methods that you complete

Mandatory entry
  • Be a follower and leave me one comment here telling me what your favorite kind of cookie is  = 1 comment/entry

Additional entries
  • Like DownEast Basics on Facebook.  Then come back here and leave me a comment telling me that you like DE on FB = 1 comment/entry
  • Follow Simply Designing on Facebook or Twitter and leave me a comment here saying that you are a new follower or that you already follow me on FB or Twitter = 1 comment/entry
  • Facebook or Tweet about this awesome giveaway!  Please tag Simply Designing and DownEast if possible.  For example "@Simply Designing is giving away a cute Cookie Exchange Party set from @DownEast!!  Go enter to win here: http://simplydesigning.blogspot.com!"  Leave one comment here telling me how you spread the word about this giveaway!  = 1 comment/entry

You can enter a total of up to 4 times, that means you will leave up to 4 comments on this blog post!  4 easy and fabulous ways to win!  

And please spread the giveaway love!  I would love to give as many people as possible the chance to win the this Cookie Exchange Kit from DownEast Basics!

The giveaway will end December 1st at midnight EST.  I will announce the winner on December 2nd so be sure to stop by and see if you've won!  The winner will have 3 days to contact me to claim their prize.

In addition, DownEast is having a $500 DownEast Home Giveaway!  I would LOVE $500 to spend at DownEast, wouldn't you!?!?  Go here to enter to win that giveaway!

The fine print:  
Leave 1 comment per entry method competed for a total of up to 4 entries = 4 comments.  
Must complete the mandatory entry first.  
Winner will have three days upon announcement to contact me in order to claim your prize.  
Must be a US Resident with a US mailing address to win.  
Must be 18 years old or older to win.  
This giveaway is sponsored by DownEast Basics.  No compensation was given for this review, however I was sent a cookie exchange party kit for review purposes.  

Good Luck!


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Truffles


Oh yes.  You read that right.  PUMPKIN TRUFFLES!!


Yum-o!

When I found this recipe I knew I had to try them.  But honestly, once I started making them, I was a bit concerned.  Can you add melted chocolate to a mixture like this and still have a good texture?  Will the filling be sweet enough to go with the white chocolate coating?  Will it taste too much like gingersnap cookies?

These are all valid concerns I had.  But I decided to take one for the team and see if these were really as tasty as they were beautiful to look at.

And boy was I surprised.

The texture is amazingly smooth!  The filling was the perfect blend of sweetness but yet not overly sweet.  And while there is a gingersnap flavor, it is not the most prevalent flavor.  They are silky smooth pumpkin balls of yummy dipped in white chocolate.


Pumpkin Truffles

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs, plus more for garnish
  • 1 T powdered sugar
  • 1/2 t orange zest (I used dried orange peel)
  • 1/8 t ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Melt 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips, careful not to scorch.  Reserve the rest of the white chocolate chips.
  2. Place melted chocolate, pumpkin puree, cream cheese, gingersnap crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  3. Beat mixture in a bowl with a hand held electric beater until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Cover bowl with saran wrap and place in fridge for at least 2 hours until mixture is firm.
  5. Roll mixture into balls and place on a foil covered cookie sheet.
  6. Melt remaining white chocolate and place in a mug or another small, deep container.  I added a bit of vegetable oil to my white chocolate while I melted it to help the texture be smooth and to help the chocolate not dry out.
  7. Dip pumpkin truffles into white chocolate and place on foil.  
  8. Sprinkle remaining graham cracker crumbs on top.
  9. Let set in fridge until chocolate sets, approximately 1 hour.



Yield: 30 truffles (approx 1-1.5 teaspoons in size)
(recipe adapted from here)





I thought these were quite yummy!  They had a great balance of flavors and had a wonderful texture!  And I had a friend comment that they have a very "fallish" flavor!  I completely agree.  

They are a delicious, rich, yummy fall treat!



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Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful Tree


In our family we try to focus on the positive.  Granted, things are not always picture perfect, we have our ups and downs but through it all we always try to see the positive.

We are also trying to instill in our daughter a sense of gratitude and positivity.  (yeah...that's a word...haha!)  And I try to take the holiday season to teach her about giving, being thankful and seeing the wonderful things in life.  It is not always easy, but I hope that these small efforts will pay off in her life one day.

So this Thanksgiving I decided to make a Thankful Tree.


We went on a walk and found a few twigs to bring home.  I was lucky to find a few branches that were red and orange.  You can't see it well in the photos but they are beautiful!

My husband and I arranged them in a mason jar, added a but of twine around the jar and I found some cute fall-ish scrapbook paper that I cut using a circle paper punch.

I hung the circles on the tree and now as a family we have the opportunity to write down things we are grateful for on our Thankful Tree all season long.

Wouldn't it be so fun to read all of the these around the Thanksgiving table?

 
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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stacking Pumpkins


Pumpkins are getting a little hard to find this time of year, but luckily I live close to several farms that still have some smaller pie sized pumpkins.  I didn't want to make pie though, I wanted to make decor!  A fun stacking pumpkin decoration that was so simple and so cute!


You will need:

  • 3 pumpkins
  • cream spray paint (I used Rustoleum Heirloom White spray paint) or craft paint
  • twine 
  • hot glue


First you will take tops off of two of the pumpkins.  One of those pumpkins you will spray paint cream.

Then using hot glue, cover the remaining top with twine.


Stack the three pumpkins and voila you have the cutest set of stacking pumpkins!

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Simply Link {Party}


Thank you for joining me for this week's link party!  I am so excited to see what you've created!

Please link up your latest creations.  You can link up pretty much anything as long as you "created" it (food, craft, home decor item, a beautiful garden, a photograph, etc.  I am really flexible!)  Please keep it family friendly.  Please no links to shops or giveaways.  I reserve the right to delete any links that aren't appropriate. By linking up you are giving me permission to feature or show off your project (I will link back to you of course.)

Also, I would love it if you linked back to my site and mentioned on your blog, facebook or twitter about my link party!  Help me spread the word please!

And please visit 2-3 other links and leave them a nice, meaningful comment!  Thanks!




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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shabby Apple GIVEAWAY - closed



*This giveaway is now closed*

I am very excited to be able to host another Shabby Apple dress giveaway!  Shabby Apple clothes are amazing!

Dresses from Shabby Apple

Shabby Apple  has an amazing business philosophy.  Their purpose is to bring dresses back to what they were meant to be: a one-piece outfit without the need to add tank-tops or cardigans.

Much of their clothing has a unique vintage feel to it that I absolutely love!  Aren't their gorgeous vintage dresses amazing?!

 

Not only do they sell fabulous woman's dresses, they also sell adorable little girl dresses!

 

Today I am so excited to be able to GIVE AWAY this beautiful plum colored Amethyst dress by Shabby Apple:

 

One of my favorite features about this dress is that it is a faux-wrap dress.  In other words, it looks like a wrap dress but the skirt portion is fully closed so you don't have to worry about it gaping!

I think it would be perfect for church, the office or a nice night out on the town!  And the plum color is extraordinary!

So who wants to win this fabulous dress??


Here's how to enter to win:

Leave one comment for each of the below entry methods that you complete


Mandatory entry

  • Be a follower of Simply Designing (through Google Friend's Connect on my sidebar) and leave me one comment here telling me that you are either a new follower or that you already follow me  = 1 comment/entry


Additional entries

  • Visit Shabby Apple's website and check out some of their fab dresses!  Come back here and leave me a comment telling me what your favorite dress is = 1 comment/entry
  • Like and leave a comment on Shabby Apple's Facebook page telling them that @Simply Designing sent you and that you hope to win a Shabby Apple dress.  Come back here and leave a comment letting me know you did that = 1 comment/entry
  • Follow Simply Designing on Facebook or Twitter and leave me a comment here saying that you are a new follower or that you already follow me on FB or Twitter = 1 comment/entry
  • Facebook or Tweet about this awesome giveaway!  Please tag Simply Designing and Shabby Apple if possible.  For example "@Simply Designing is giving away a @Shabby Apple dress!!  Go enter to win!"  Leave one comment here telling me how you spread the word about this giveaway!  = 1 comment/entry

You can enter a total of up to 5 times, that means you will leave up to 5 comments on this blog post!  5 easy and fabulous ways to win!  



And please spread the giveaway love!  I would love to give as many people as possible the chance to win the plum Amethyst dress from Shabby Apple!



The giveaway will end November 25th at midnight EST.  I will announce the winner on November 26th so be sure to stop by and see if you've won!  The winner will have 3 days to contact me to claim their prize.



In addition, if you want to take advantage of a great deal, Shabby Apple is offering you a 10% discount!!  Just use the code:  simply10off when you make your purchase!  
(please note this code is only good for 30 days)



And be sure to "like" Shabby Apple on Facebook in order to get in on special deals, promotions and exclusive discounts!    



The fine print:  

Leave 1 comment per entry method competed for a total of up to 5 entries (5 comments).  

Must complete the mandatory entry first.  

Winner will have three days upon announcement to contact me in order to claim your prize.  

Must be a US Resident with a US mailing address to win.  
Winner can not exchange dress.
Must be 18 years old or older to win.  
This giveaway is sponsored by Shabby Apple, no compensation was given for this post.  

Good Luck!


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babycakes Cupcake Maker and Red Velvet Cupcakes



If I had a quarter for every batch of cupcakes I have cooked in the last year...I would probably be able to buy 5 boxes of cake mix and frosting!  We LOVE cupcakes around our  house.  Plus they are easy, portable and are great to take places!




Because I bake so many cupcakes, it naturally means that I have been eyeing the babycakes Cupcake Maker for quite some time.  And with how FABULOUS I think Select Brand's babycakes products are, I knew this was a must-have in my kitchen!  I knew it would be simple and create fabulous cupcakes!


What I didn't know is that the Cupcake Maker would bake cupcakes in less time then the oven!!!  How amazing is that!?

When Select Brands sent me a Cupcake Maker to try out, I was thrilled!  I had the biggest, heaviest box delivered on  my doorstep and I seriously could not believe it!!  It was like Christmas at my house!  Well, at least Christmas for me :)


In  my amazing package I also received a cupcake mix to try!  Did you know that babycakes now sells cupcake, donut, whoopie pie and cake pop mixes??  I previously had the opportunity to try their chocolate donut mix and it is to-die-for yummy!  So I was very excited to try their red velvet cake mix.




When I unpacked my Cupcake Maker I found a great package inside!  In the box came the cute yellow cupcake maker, an easy to understand instruction booklet that is full of great ideas and ways to use your cupcake maker, a crust cutting tool, an icing bag and several nice metal icing tips!  What an amazing package!  

I decided to use my red velvet cake mix for my first baking project.  The mix came with the cake mix and a cream cheese frosting mix!  I had everything else that I needed to make these already on hand.  


Now before I tell you more, I feel inclined to disclose a bit of truth, a confession so to speak.  I know that red velvet is a very popular thing right now.  But I self-admittedly don't have the same love affair with red velvet that many people do.  But I completely understand the allure of red velvet.  It is beautiful, striking and rich!  So I totally get it.  It just happens to not be my favorite.


I hope with that knowledge you will understand what it means when I admit that I have eaten 8 red velvet cupcakes in the last 2 days.  EIGHT!  And I am contemplating going back for my ninth.  Yeah.  They are THAT good!


Babycakes does an amazing job with their mixes!  The chocolate donuts were rich and moist and these red velvet cupcakes were moist and delicious!  Like I said, I am not a huge lover of red velvet, but I really LOVED the red velvet babycake mix!      




No matter how many Select Brands babycakes products I use, I am continually AMAZED! 



The cupcakes rose perfectly.  They were cooked thoroughly but not over cooked.  It took 8 minutes in a babycakes cupcake maker as it would have taken 20 in a conventional oven to get the same moist, perfectly shaped cupcakes!  

The babycakes Cupcake Maker makes cupcakes that are in between mini and regular sized cupcakes.  They are really a perfect sized cupcake for many things!  I actually used these cupcakes for a baby shower and they were the perfect size.

The box mix was simple to make and the cupcake maker was a breeze to use!  And it took mere minutes to bake 8 perfect cupcakes!  And clean-up is sooooo much faster then in the oven!  





I never thought anything would be more simple to bake then cupcakes in an oven until I baked cupcakes in this cupcake maker!  Plus there is less clean-up!  

I love love love my babycakes Cupcake Maker!!

It is simply amazing!



I also can't wait to try the recipes that came with the machine!  They all look simple and delish!  And no babycakes recipe has ever failed, me so I am sure I will have perfect results with all of them!

Can you tell how much I LOVE my new Cupcake Maker?!? 

So, I want to know, what is the first thing you would make if you had a babycakes Cupcake maker??


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Fox 59 News Segment - Thanksgiving DIY Decor


Check out my Thanksgiving segment at Fox59!

Fox59 Simply Designing Thanksgiving Crafts

Click here or copy and paste this link:  http://www.fox59.com/videogallery/66130187/Entertainment/Hoosier-Holiday:-Thanksgiving-crafts#pl-66098676

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Apple Votives


Apples seem like the epitome of all things Fall.  And candles are perfect for a Thanksgiving day tablescape.  I combined the two to get Apple Votives!

Apple Votives - perfect fall decor that is so simple to make!  This would be perfect for a Thanksgiving centerpiece tablscape or for fall mantle decor!  See full tutorial by clicking on image!  #diy #fall #falldecor #thanksgiving #thanksgivingdecor #tablescape #centerpieces #apples #votives #candles

You will need:

  • apples
  • lemon juice
  • votives
  • a drill with a large drill bit (I used 1.5")

Apple Votives - perfect fall decor that is so simple to make!  This would be perfect for a Thanksgiving centerpiece tablscape or for fall mantle decor!  See full tutorial by clicking on image!  #diy #fall #falldecor #thanksgiving #thanksgivingdecor #tablescape #centerpieces #apples #votives #candles

First you will sneak into your husband's tools while he is away at work to confiscate his drill.

Using a large drill bit, drill a hole directly in the top of the apple the depth of the votive candle.

You will want to hold the apple firmly in place while you do this.  Not that I know from personal experience or anything :)

Apple Votives - perfect fall decor that is so simple to make!  This would be perfect for a Thanksgiving centerpiece tablscape or for fall mantle decor!  See full tutorial by clicking on image!  #diy #fall #falldecor #thanksgiving #thanksgivingdecor #tablescape #centerpieces #apples #votives #candles

I cleaned up the holes just a bit and then poured lemon juice in it to keep the apple from browning.

Next you will want to wash the apple off the drill bit and neatly put your husband's tools back right where they were.  :)

Apple Votives - perfect fall decor that is so simple to make!  This would be perfect for a Thanksgiving centerpiece tablscape or for fall mantle decor!  See full tutorial by clicking on image!  #diy #fall #falldecor #thanksgiving #thanksgivingdecor #tablescape #centerpieces #apples #votives #candles

Insert the votives and enjoy your festive fun Apple Votives.

These would also be super cute floating in a basin of water.

I am curious, does anyone else use apples to decorate with?

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Candles


I know I resisted Fall, but now I am totally embracing it!  A bit late, but I decided I wanted to incorporate a few festive things into my fall decor just in time for Thanksgiving!

I went to a local farm and found dried corn for 10 cents a cob!  So I bought 20!  I wasn't sure at the time what I wanted to do with it but after spending a little time on Pintrest, I came up with the perfect idea!  Corn Candles!


You will need:

  • dried corn or Indian corn (I used 8 cobs but you might need more or less depending on how large your candle is)
  • candle
  • hot glue (I did this with two different candles and one worked best with high temp hot glue and one was better with low temp hot glue)
  • styrofoam (if your corn is taller then your candle)
  • twine


Ah.  It is pretty corn isn't it!?

First, if your corn is taller then your candle, you will want to glue the candle to a piece of styrofoam to make the candle taller.


Next, using your glue gun, attach the corn to the candle.  You will want to glue the corn to the candle as well as gluing the corn to the corn next to it.

I did this on two different candle.  On one candle, the high temp glue worked best and on the other the low temp glue worked best.  Weird.  However, the more expensive candle worked with the high temp glue and the cheaper candle worked with the low temp glue.  I would guess there is a correlation between the two.

I rotated my corn so every other cob was facing upwards and the other corn was upside down.


It took me 8 cobs to go around the entire candle but that could vary depending on how large your candle is and how big around the corn is.


Add twine, raffia or ribbon around the corn.


How cute is that!?  And wouldn't it be so cute on your Thanksgiving table.  Or perhaps on your mantle.  The possibilities are endless!

I would love to know if you decorate using corn this time of year and if so, how?

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Monday, November 14, 2011

PB Knock-off Felt Mayflower


I don't think it is any secret that I love Pottery Barn.  So when I saw these super cute felt Mayflower boats, I knew I had to make one!


You will need:

  • brown felt  (1 sheet per boat is plenty)
  • orange embroidery floss
  • needle
  • kabob stick or similar
  • candy (I used a gumdrop and candy corns, but you can use whatever candy you prefer)
  • template (optional - I found another blogger who made a template of this boat and is offering it up for free if you go here.  However, you can just wing it too :)


First you will cut your three pieces out of the felt.  You will need (2) boat sides and one boat bottom.


Then you will take your orange embroidery floss and sew each side to the bottom and then sew the sides together.

I used a blanket stitch but feel free to stitch it together however you like.

 


Pretty cute boar huh?


I had to trim a bit off of the end of my kabob stick to be the right length.  Then I stuck one end into a gumdrop to help hold it in place, but feel free to use whatever you happen to have on hand!

Place the stick in the middle of the boat and fill with the candy of your choice.  (I used candy corn.)

Here is a look at the original:


And here is mine!  Not bad huh!?


These would be really cute place cards for the big Tday dinner if you write the names on the sail.  Or just cute table decoration.

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