Lavender Sachets

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Kirby & Lola in front of the harvested lavender field in Ojai

This past July, I spent a week in Ojai with friends and family. It was such a magical place with Spanish-style homes, flowering trees, and roadside farm stands that used the honor system. Every morning there would be tomatoes and fresh eggs for us to take, trusting that we would leave the money we owed. Each night we grilled outside under the stars then played games and drank wine. It was perfect. There was also a huge lavender field in our backyard that had just been harvested and the air was filled with the floral perfume. As my dad and I walked Lola (our family Cocker Spaniel) in the evenings, a certain topic kept recurring – how much my Grandma Carylon would love it there. No one would appreciate the vibrant flowers, the fresh produce, and the warm sunshine more than her and we quickly began plotting how to convince her to move so that we could visit all the time.

As a souvenir, I brought home a bag full of dried lavender from the harvest, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Recently it dawned on me to make homemade sachets to send to my grandmother, a small sample of the place my dad and I knew she would fall in love with.

These were very easy to make – keep in mind the most I’ve sewn in my life is a button. With lacy ribbon and fabric paint, they are easily customizable and smell so incredible, a perfect gift. I plan to make a bunch more as Christmas gifts… and maybe a few for myself!


Materials:

  • Non-stretchy fabric (I used cotton)
  • Needle & thread
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon
  • Fabric paint
  • Dried lavender

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Cut your fabric into long rectangular strips. When you fold them in half, they should be a little larger than you want the final sachet to be. Don’t worry about loose threads and messy edges, they will be hidden.

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Take one piece of fabric and fold it in half so that the back of the fabric is facing the outside. Using a cross-stitch (don’t worry, I had to google that, too), sew the sides, leaving about half an itch from the edges. Then carefully fold down the top and sew all the way around, this time leaving about a quarter inch from the top. The fabric should look like an inside-out pouch by now.

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Turn the bag inside out so that the seams are hidden. At this point you can decorate the sachet however you like. I monogrammed the navy blue one with my Grandma’s initials (CC) and sewed crochet ribbon across the bottom of the yellow one. I left the flower printed pouch as is so that the sachets wouldn’t look too busy all together. Once you finish decorating, pour the dried lavender into the bag, filling it 2/3 of the way.

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Carefully pinch the fabric so that the pouch is tightly filled, then sew it shut to secure the lavender inside. Use a thin ribbon and bow to cover the seam and finish the decoration on the bag.

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That’s all there is to it, now you are ready to place them in your clothing drawers and be the best smelling lady around! (I made sure to thoroughly test them out on my clothes before sending them to my grandma).

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Happy sewing!

-Kirby

 

Thanksgiving Place Cards

When I was a little girl, I so badly wanted to be involved in the Thanksgiving preparations, but could not be trusted with knives. So for the first few Thanksgivings I can remember, my official job title was “table decorator”, and boy did I take that job seriously.

I used to sketch out what the table would look like weeks before my mom would even begin planning the menu. As soon as Fall started, I began collecting colorful fallen leaves and storing them in a ziplock bag beneath my bed, so that I would be prepared when it came time to building my masterful centerpiece. I still remember the hand-traced turkeys with wonky, misspelled names that adorned the plates when I was first enlisted for the job, and the glitter mess that lasted for weeks when I thought sparkly pumpkins would be a good idea for a centerpiece.

While I’ve been old enough to help out in the kitchen for a long time, the table decorations have remained a personal tradition, and to me, are (almost) as important as the food. This year for Thanksgiving I am traveling to my mom’s house in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I am beyond excited for a week of much needed mom time (anyone else as excited for the Gilmore girls revival as we are?!). We will be cooking  the whole Thanksgiving dinner for our close friends and I, of course, will decorate. Here are three different place card ideas that I’ve come up with for the table this year; I will be using the gold leaves, a sophisticated decoration that isn’t too difficult so I can focus on what really matters… the food!


Until last week, I had never seen a persimmon before. A good friend handed me one that she got at the Hollywood Farmer’s market and I instantly thought of a pumpkin, a smooth and dainty little pumpkin. Festive and vibrant – a perfect addition to a thanksgiving table. To make this, I curled a piece of thin copper wire about 7 times using the tip of my scissors, then pulled it apart to make a coil. I then inserted the coil into the top of the persimmon. I curled another piece of wire two or three times, and left it curled so that it could hold the name tag, which was a small rectangular piece of card stock. I inserted the name tag, and that’s it!

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I recently bought a large pack of colorful paper and had fun layering the different colors to make these striped place cards. These are so easy, but I love the vibrant and funky edge they bring to the table. Simply layer the sheets of paper in the order you would like them (I  used six sheets); the stripes should look exactly how you want them to on the cards. Then glue the sheets of paper together and cut them into rectangles. Bend the rectangles in half, so that one side has the stripes on it. I used a thin black sharpie pen to write the names, careful to do so on a lighter color to create contrast.

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I found these pretty leaves at Michaels, but they could easily be done using real leaves if you happen to live somewhere that has seasons. For these place cards, I used gold acrylic paint to coat the leaves, then wrote the names in the center with a fine sharpie pen. I used the tip of my scissors to twist thin copper wire so that it would hold the leaf, and again at the bottom to create a spiral stand. While these are easy to make, they as also incredibly elegant and will surely impress your guests.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

-Kirby

Autumn Leaf Sugar Cookies

glu-logo-copyApparently we are 54 days into Fall, but here in L.A. it has been above 90 degrees for more days than we can count. Instead of cozy sweaters, knit hats, and hot lattes in hand, we’ve been trekking to class in shorts and t-shirts, wiping the sweat from our brows before downing iced drinks. While we try not to ever take the endless sunshine for granted, we do miss the seasonal changes that really help transition into the holiday spirit.

In an effort to fix this, we made these autumn leaf cookies for the apartment, a simple reminder that it is indeed Fall. They are a nice break from the meticulous detail that we tend to lean towards when decorating cookies.


Ingredients & Materials:

  • Sugar cookies (you can find our recipe here)
  • Royal icing (you can find our recipe here)
  • Food coloring of your choice (we used copper, red, orange, yellow, and green)
  • A cooling rack
  • Paper towels or newspaper (anything you don’t mind ruining with icing)
  • A spoon

_mg_6569Roll your sugar cookie dough 1/4 inch thick and use a maple leaf cookie cutter to cut your shapes. Bake them for 6-8 minutes at 400 ºF and then set aside to cool.

While the cookies bake, make your royal icing. Be sure to add a little bit of water. These cookies don’t have any detail in them and rely on the icing being able to run off the cookie. However, it should still be very thick and goopy. Divide the icing into as many colors as you want to use, and mix in the dye. Try to look at leaves for inspiration; you want the colors to be more natural looking and less neon, otherwise the cookies will look more like rainbows than leaves.

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Evenly distribute the cookies on a cooling rack with a thick layer of paper towels underneath. Using a spoon, pour the green icing over the cookies until they are covered.

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Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then pour the next shade (in this case a greenish yellow) over most of the cookie, leaving one end the initial green color.

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Again, allow them to sit for 10 minutes, then pour the next color (in this case golden yellow) over the cookies, leaving the previous colors still exposed on one side. Keep repeating this process until all of the colors have been laid down.

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The cookies should gradually transition from green to yellow to orange to red. Don’t worry if the icing looks messy and is mixing together. The imperfections are what give it the marbled ombre look. You also may need to clean up with edges with your fingers or a toothpick since the multiple layers of icing is so thick and slightly deforms the leaf shape. Allow to cool completely and enjoy, whether you are in warm weather or cold!

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Happy decorating!

Michelle & Kirby

Sugar Cookies & Royal Icing

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We love to bake, which might be obvious considering this blog. And by bake we mostly mean decorate. While our families might argue that eating our sweets is the best part, we love coming up with creative ways to decorate desserts for specific holidays, seasons, or celebrations.

Sugar cookies with royal icing are a staple in our lives. We make a batch at least once a month. Though simple in flavor, their decorating possibilities are endless. This cookie recipe holds its shape so well, unlike many recipes we’ve fiddled with in the past that turn into formless blobs once baked. Once we discovered this one, we haven’t gone back. Pair them with royal icing and your design possibilities are endless.


Sugar Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Once smooth, beat in the eggs and vanilla.

Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix until the dough is formed. Don’t be afraid to use your hands. If it feels too sticky, add a little more flour.

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Wrap the dough in wax paper or plastic and chill for at least one hour. Preheat the oven to 400 ºF (204 ºC). Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is approximately 1/4 inch thick. Cut the shapes that you want and then using a spatula, carefully place the cut outs onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving an inch between the cookies.

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Now the next step may seem pointless, but it is THE #1 SECRET to perfect cut out cookies. Place your sheets in the fridge for a few minutes before baking. Once the sheet is cool and the cookie dough is cold to the touch, remove them and immediately place them in the oven. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the edges are barely brown. The extra few minutes of refrigeration is the key to keeping the shapes that you so carefully cut out.

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Cool your cookies on a cooling rack and then onto the fun part – decorating!


Royal Icing Ingredients 

  • 4 egg whites
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Sift the powdered sugar and cream of tartar together, then set aside. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Pour them into the powdered sugar mixer and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the icing forms stiff peaks.

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Divide the icing in half. Leave one half as it is, the thick icing is what you want to use to make outlines and details.

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Add a tiny bit of water to the other half until it is smooth and slowly pours from a spoon. It is always better to add too little water than too much! The runny icing is what you will use to flood your cookies. From here you can mix the colors that you plan to use and distribute them into your piping bags.

 

Happy  baking!

Michelle & Kirby

Fall Leaf Gift Tags

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Autumn has always been my favorite time of the year. Kickstarting the holiday season with my birthday, followed by Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve, I’m rarely seen without a beaming smile on my face. When I was younger, admittedly, one of my favorite parts about this season had to do with gifts. I can still remember the uncontained excitement having just opened my Barbie Dream House at my 6th birthday. And whenever my parents left me alone with the Christmas tree I’d sneakily shake my gifts hoping to discover their contents.

As I’ve grown older, gifts have remained a major highlight in my holiday celebrations, but I’ve become more interested in giving them than receiving them. The act of searching for the perfect gift that will make someone smile or laugh is so fulfilling and I honestly get more excited watching others open gifts than I do opening my own.

Personalized wrapping is the best way to elevate gifts, making them even more special. These leaf gift tags are the perfect addition to any fall gifts, whether it’s tied onto a Thanksgiving hostess gift or attached to an October/November birthday present. My sister, Nicole, recently moved to Oakland with her boyfriend and these leaf tags were a nice touch to the housewarming gift I sent.


Materials:

  • Paper (I used red and brown cardstock, and white and gold striped wrapping paper)
  • Scissors
  • Gold leaf pen  (I swear by this one here)
  • Pencil/pen for tracing
  • A leaf to trace (you can print a cutout if you don’t have one)
  • Hole punch
  • Twine
  • Wrapping paper

Trace the leaf onto each of your pieces of paper, then carefully cut them out. I used three but feel free to add or remove layers depending on what you like. Stack the leaves and punch a hole near the stem.

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Add the gold details to the leaf cutouts. On the red leaf I painted half of it solid gold. Be generous with layers to avoid streaks. For the brown leaf I did a simple gold outline, which gives plenty of room to write a note for Nicole. I left the gold and white paper alone since it already had plenty of gold sparkles.

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Wrap your gift and tie with twine. Then stack the leaves once again and loop the twine through the holes before you complete the knot. I love the simple, rustic look of plain white giftwrap and twine, but the subtle sparkle and color in the leaves gives it a warm holiday feel.

 

Happy gifting!

 

-Michelle

Sorting Hat Cupcakes

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This week was Michelle’s 21st Birthday (woohoo!!) and we all celebrated like we were turning 21 again. We had some friends over for drinks and gifts before heading out to bars in Santa Monica.

As the biggest Harry Potter nerds you’ll meet, we used the occasion as an excuse to make a craft we’ve been excited about for ages. All of our guests bit into these sorting cupcakes to find out which Hogwarts house they belong to. As proud Hufflepuffs in our every day lives, we were reluctant to abandon our yellow for Slytherin, but it was fun to venture into the dark side for a night.

These cupcakes were so easy to make and were a huge hit amongst our friends. To make it even more fun we proceeded to play games throughout the night, scoring house points for our teams. It was a hilarious way to spend a night out with our girlfriends.

As busy college students on a budget, we have no shame admitting that we sometimes make our desserts from a box. These were done with Betty Crocker cake mix and vanilla frosting and were delicious. But, kudos to anyone who makes them from scratch! We’d love to see your versions.


Materials:

  • Cupcakes (1 box Betty Crocker vanilla cake)
  • Frosting (2 containers Betty Crocker vanilla frosting)
  • 5 large ziplock bags
  • A large star-shaped frosting tip
  • Scissors
  • Food coloring (red, yellow, blue, and green)
  • A sharp knife
  • Toothpicks
  • A printer & computer

Scoop 2/3 of the white icing into a piping bag (we use large ziplock bags and cut a small hole in the corner) with a star tip.

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Divide the remaining 1/3 of the icing into four separate bowls and dye them red, yellow, blue, and green. Red dye is particularly tricky to mix, and our secret is to dye it pink first before adding red. It requires less dye and is much faster. Then scoop the four colors into piping bags with normal round tips.

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Using a sharp knife, carefully cut a hole in the center of the cupcakes. Only cut 2/3 of the way into the cupcake, careful not to cut all the way through. Save the piece of cupcake that you remove. Divide the cupcakes into four groups for the four houses and pipe the icing into the holes, filling them half way. There should be an equal number of cupcakes for each house. Gently place the removed piece of cupcake back on top, concealing the icing beneath it.

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For decoration, create a template of Hogwarts crests (we used Microsoft Word), then print and cut them out. Glue them to toothpicks with a hot glue gun and set aside.

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Pipe the white icing onto the cupcakes. By now you should not be able to tell them apart. Insert the toothpick decorations into the cupcakes. Careful not to remove the toothpicks before taking a bite though, they will ruin the surprise!

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Happy sorting (and 21st birthday to Michelle)!