Making and Baking Gingerbread: Tips & Tricks

Very informative and really good tips!

I have to be honest, I haven’t made gingerbread for years now. Sad but true. I decided maybe it’s time to revisit my favorite gingerbread recipe except I ran into to one problem –  after all these years, it was no where to be found! That lead me to set off on a search of online recipes. As I looked through them, I found some excellent reminders and tips along the way so I put together a  a list of excerpts from the experts on gingerbread making and baking best practices.

Gingerbread probably became linked to Christmas because in European winters, fresh produce was rare, so most sweets treats were based on dry pantry items that kept a long time (like flour and spices). Ginger is also said to aid digestion, so perhaps best eaten after a big Christmas meal? (Food24)

Picking The Right Gingerbread Recipe

Choose a…

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The Pear Snow People so far…

20181129_091239 (2)This is what they look like so far. The one with the blue hat is going to have buttons that match his hat, but he is the most farthest along of all the snow people. And he might be the only one holding the string of lights cause the little bulbs keep breaking, they are so fragile! And the one on the far right, with the hat made of pom poms, is going to loose the pom pom hat, I like the baby crew sock hats better. I’ve got ones of these guys in various stages so I can take pictures for a tutorial. As long as they aren’t bleeding color the pears are relatively easy to work with. I used a thin needle file to drill the holes for the noses and the arms. The string of lights blue hat guy is holding is green craft wire with tiny light bulb ornaments strung on it. I used Folkart Outdoor Paint, which is self sealing, on these guys, so they won’t need to be varnished. Yeah! That’s a good thing cause the weather has been really crappy here, front after front just keep rolling through. It’s like it went from hot summer to nasty cold winter with not much moderate fall weather. Bleah! I’m going to see if I can find some more baby crew socks in actual holiday colors, so far our Walmarts are not keeping the baby sock section very well stocked, Target is even worse. I think it is because of the hurricane, the stores still haven’t really restocked yet after having to throw away so much damaged merchandise. Hopefully, as it gets closer to Christmas, the baby clothes sections at the local stores will get better stocked up on colorful baby crew socks I can use for hats. So, this is what’s going on so far with the pear snow people! Christmas is coming soon! Happy Crafting!

Cherry Pie Quesadilla


In Dianes Kitchen


Do you like fresh Cherry Pie and either don’t know how to make a pie crust or you just don’t like to make a pie crust? Cherry Pie filling inside two flour tortillas topped with cinnamon and sugar fixes that problem! These tasted even better than I had hoped for. Learn how quick and easy these are to make with no pie crust to worry about.

I used our quesadilla maker but you could do the same thing in a frying pan, bake in the oven, use your George Foreman grill, a griddle….. well you get the idea. All you need to do is cook the tortilla and that doesn’t take long! Use any type of pie filling you want. Just follow my directions below to make them, but cook by your method.

I have to believe there are a lot fewer calories in these than regular cherry pie. The…

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Finally, Squirrel Boy is ready for matte medium and then the gesso! YEAH!!!

20181121_045612 (3)I’ve done a lot of work on Squirrel Boy, learning what I can and can’t do with the floral tape wrap method along the way. I made his arms and legs longer to help balance his longer tail. And I’ve done some major work on his ears, sculpting them some and making them look much more like squirrel ears. I’m getting his eyes ready. And, as you can see behind Squirrel Boy, Spider Girl and the pear snow people shapes have been gessoed and are ready for the prime coat of paint. YEAH!!! So, that’s what’s happening so far with these guys and gals, things are finally progressing to the stage where the embellishing process can get in the works, YEAH!!! So, I hope you all have a SUPER GREAT DAY!!! HAPPY CRAFTING!!! HAPPY NOVEMBER!!!

Ninjabread Men!

20181117_014432 (3)My husband loves martial arts movies and when we saw this kit at Walmart, I said let’s get that! Of course he didn’t say no, especially when I said he could eat all of them.  Not your average gingerbread men, for sure!20181117_014512 (3)They are simple to mix up and have no hydrogenated fats, YEAH! Plus they come with four way cool ninja-shape cookie cutters, which I’ll use to make some air-dry clay ninjabread men to give for gifts to my husband’s nephews and brother. A tree decoration that guys would like! I’ll post a picture when I get the edible ones made before my husband tears into them! Christmas is coming fast! HAPPY BAKING AND CRAFTING!

Some cute little ornamental Kale and the Rosemary & Violas are still looking good!

20181113_133714 (2)My mom brought me these cute little ornamental Kale plants, YEAH MOM! I’ve never grown ornamental kale before, just edible kale. So, hopefully these will do okay and can handle freezing weather.20181113_133753 (2)The rosemary and all the violas are still doing well, even after going through two nor’easters during the last few of days. The lemongrass and the dragon cayenne pepper are still hanging in there and the pepper is still making peppers. My guard toads keep a wary eye on the garden for me.  So, HAPPY FALL / WINTER GARDENING!

Use Simple Shapes to Make Holiday Cards


Imagine Blog

by Jennifer Vanderbeek

Use Simple Shapes to Make Holiday Cards

There are so many cute and fun stamps and dies on the market these days for the holidays that it’s truly tough to resist them. I don’t know about you but there’s only so much room in the budget and the stamp storage to go around, so I’m always happy to come up with ways to use the things I already have and getting more mileage out of my tools and supplies. To that end, these cards use patterned stamps that are not holiday-specific and simple shapes you can cut with basic dies, punches, or even just scissors. These simple shape cards are also perfect for crafting with kids in preparation for the holidays!

Skill: Intermediate
Time: 1 hour depending on the number of cards




• Delicata – White Shimmer, Pink Shimmer, Ruby Red
• VersaFine – Olympia Green
• VersaMark –…

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An update on Squirrel Boy & the pear snowmen, trying a new technique in papier-mache, & a bat that didn’t get into the Halloween display

20181114_051634 (2)Poor Squirrel Boy! I’m trying the floral tape wrap on him to give him a smoother surface. I made his tail a bit longer, his back legs a little longer for better balance, made his arms a little longer, and extended his muzzle a little bit to give him a more egg shaped head like actual squirrels have. When he has a full layer of the tissue paper glued on him, I’ll open his eye sockets back up. Up in the top of the picture is what will be Spider Girl. I’m starting her now cause my paint I want to use on her might not be usable when it gets close to next Halloween, a use it or loose it thing. She will look similar to Spider Boy but have a more extensive dot pattern and maybe a bow on her head. So, the floral tape wrapping thing is the new, to me, papier-mache technique and it really does help to create a smoother surface, it worked real well on the pear snow men shapes I made. When you are using the tape you pull on it as you wrap it around your shape and it sort of sticks in place and self seals itself. 20181114_051510 (2)The pear snowmen shapes are now ready for the gesso, again. The bleeders and the two I made have two layers of varnish, two layers of tissue paper and two layers of acrylic matte medium on them. The other pears that didn’t do strangeness have two more layers of the matte medium, just to make sure they can handle the wetness from the gesso and the paint. Wish me luck! Hopefully, there won’t be any more weird things happening with the prep for these guys.20181114_052143 (2)This is Bat Boy and I’m not tormenting him with those pins!  I made him so he could hang suspended in the air between like my two cupboards like he’s flying. The pins have thread attached to them for the hanging part. He was hiding on my desk and I didn’t find him till after Halloween. I saw him in Woman’s Day magazine several years ago and worked up a pattern for him. That was the easy part. The sewing part was the tricky part.20181114_051945 (2)He is made out of black fleece for his body and black felt for his wings and outer ear shapes. His inner ear shapes are pink felt and his little feet are brown felt. His muzzle is a pink pompom with a black felt dot for his nose. His eyes are two neon green beads with the pupils marked on with a black Sharpie. He is stuffed with polyester Poly-fil. All his parts except for the black dot for his nose and the pink inner ears are sewn in place during his assembly, even his pink muzzle. His black nose, which is glued on with fabric glue, hides the knot that holds the muzzle on. The pink part of his ears is glued onto the black outer part with fabric glue. All his parts had to be carefully folded inward while sewing him together and then very carefully pulled through the tiny opening when I turned him right side out before I stuffed him and sewed him shut. His body is a three inch circle and his wings when fully open extend out to sixteen inches. The black part of his ears is two inches tall and an inch wide and the pink part is an inch tall and 5/8ths of an inch wide. Each of his feet is an inch wide from outer toe to outer toe. I used a 1/4 of an inch seam allowance for his body section and for attaching his wings , ears and feet. I wouldn’t recommend him for a beginning sewer but he isn’t super hard to make. Just kind of fiddley cause trying not to accidentally over-sew his wings or ears or feet while sewing his body up and then trying to not pull him to pieces turning him right-side out. I sewed his eyes and muzzle in place before I sewed him completely shut so the knots are on the inside for those. I think Bat Boy would be considered a softie cause he’s not all felt and he is soft and kind of furry from the fleece in his body section.

So, there you go! A Squirrel Boy update, the beginning of Spider Girl, a pear snowmen update, a little info about the floral tape wrap method and Bat Boy! I hope you all have a SUPER GREAT DAY! HAPPY CRAFTING!!!

A tutorial for how to make the Zomkins and Spider Boy!

20181111_182455 (2)Here are the basic products I used for the papier-mache’ part. I used the Tacky Glues thinned down with some water cause it was starting to dry up, you know, a use it or loose it thing. And when I ran out of that I used the Elmer’s thinned down some with water. To get other ideas for gluing options look on, “Ultimate Papermache”, at . On there you can see all kinds of great how-to-do tips and techniques for doing papier mache’ and there are hordes of different recipes for the glue/paste. It is like a papier mache’ wonderland, a super great website! So, to start out I had the basic pumpkin shapes, I used a sharp craft knife to cut them open and to carve out the facial features. I used a grapefruit knife to help with the hollowing out part of the ones that needed to be hollowed out.20180819_192936Then time for the torn up pieces of newspaper and gift insert tissue paper. I did two layers of the papier mache’ and I applied the glue with a disposable kids paint brush. I used the Celluclay around the eye areas to strengthen and reinforce those thin places. I also used it around the lid openings to strengthen those areas too.20180905_073525 (2)To attach the teeth which I made out of foam-core board, I used masking tape. Then I applied the tissue paper that had been dipped in the glue mixture to help lock the teeth in place.20181006_064421 (2)After the Zomkin shapes and Spider Boy (who is just two foam balls stuck together with toothpicks) have been completely covered with the paiper mache’ and have dried till they are rock hard,  I applied acrylic matte medium, two coats at least.  This drys super fast and seals the papier mache’ and protects it from the wet gesso and paint later on. 20181111_182753 (2)Then I applied acrylic gesso, at least two coats, this helps to create a really hard and smooth surface for painting. If the surfaces are still not smooth enough, you can sand the shapes with a fine grade sand paper, and then add another coat of gesso. 20181013_145813 (2)Time for the prime coat, I used Folkart matte acrylic paint in 901E Wicker White. At least two coats, this also helps smooth the surfaces. Spider Boy already has his base coat of Folkart matte acrylic paint in 938E Licorice. Smiley and Baby Boo have the inside color in their mouths of Folkart matte acrylic paint in 736 School Bus Yellow.20181111_183139 (2)For the insides and outsides of the Zomkins, in their mouths, around their eyes, and on their lids top and bottom, I applied a base coat of the School Bus Yellow. Then when that was dry, I thinned some Apple Barrel 20764E Apricot with FolkArt Floating medium and painted on two coats of that on the outer surfaces of the Zomkins. I made that paint really thin cause I wanted the yellow base coat to like “glow” through the paint layered on top of it.  Then for that pumpkin-like color, I hand mixed Apple Barrel 20589E Harvest Orange, some of the apricot, some of the school bus yellow, and Folkart Artist’s Pigment 917 Yellow Ochre, and a small amount of Folkart matte acrylic paint in 939 Butter Pecan until I had the shade of orange I wanted. I also mixed the floating medium with this paint so the drying time would be extended and the paint wouldn’t  look streaky when I was layering the different coats of paint. The float medium kept the paint fluid enough so that when I started painting on one side of a Zomkin, by the time I got around to where I had started again, the paint made an even blending without hard edges.20181017_162450 (2)I used these guys as color models.20181111_183918 (2)For the stems, which on Smiley and Zack, are dowels covered with Celluclay, sculpted to look more stem-like, I used a mix of the licorice black, Folkart matte acrylic paint in 939 Butter Pecan and Folkart Artist’s Pigment 462 Burnt Umber and more of the float medium and mixed them some what while they where still wet to get that dried pumpkin stem color. Then when the stems were dry, I touched the color up some with the brown fine point Posca pen and the ultra fine point black Sharpie pen.20181017_162316 (2)Here they are ready for their eyes except for Smiley, who already had his cause they stuck in place when I was trying to see if they fit, they did, too well and I had to leave them in place rather than risk ruining them trying to get them back out.20181111_184155 (2)For all the larger Zomkins’ eyes, which in Zeke, Zack and one of Smiley’s eyes, I used ping-pong balls, Smiley’s smaller eye is a clothespin doll head. Baby Boo and Spider Boy’s eyes are fake berries from fake holly berry clusters. All the eyes were gessoed, base coated white and then the color parts were applied with various colors of Sharpies in shades of green for the eye color area in the Zomkins and black for the pupils of all. I used the Posca pen in brown to do the final touch-ups on the Zomkin’s stems and the yellow Posca pen for touch-ups around their mouths, lid openings, lids and eye areas. When everybody is dry, dry, dry I will varnish them all with Krylon Colormaster Clear Satin, Crystal Clear, Spray Varnish.20181111_183653 (2)Spider Boy is final coated with Apple Barrel acrylic paint in Black 20404, which gave him that shine on his shell. His polka dots are made with Lumiere Light Body Metallic Acrylic paint in 571 Pearl Turquoise. The eye color area in Spider Boy’s eyes, is done with a pink Sharpie, the pupils are done with a black Sharpie. Spider Boy’s mouth is done with a pink fine-point Posca pen. His legs are black pipe cleaners.20181027_215847 (2)Don’t they all look so happy!

So, there you go! A some what long process not helped by having to deal with Hurricane Florence and the tropical storm version of Hurricane Michael. Mostly what takes the longest time in doing papier mache’ is the drying time. Every thing has to be rock hard dry before going to the next step in the process. I’ve already got two more pumpkins that I bought on clearance after this Halloween to add to the Zomkin patch for the build up to next Halloween. On a scale of between 1 and 10 with 10 being the hardest, I’d rate making the Zomkins and Spider Boy at a 5, they need adult supervision to do because of using the craft knife and the grapefruit knife to carve the features and hollowing them out. But they are not super hard to do.  And the basic steps for this papier mache’ project can be used for making most other papier mache’ projects. And you don’t have to use the same brands of products I did, I use the various ones I  use cause they are relatively inexpensive and easy for me to get locally.  So, I hope you find this how-to useful! I’m already looking forward to next Halloween! HAPPY CRAFTING!