Last Minute Homemade Christmas Gift: Stenciled Scarf



Late to the game, but you still want make a homemade gift for your best friend? Well, do what mine did, make her a stenciled scarf! (Thanks Kara!)


To make: Buy a pre-made blank scarf, grab a stencil (she used a Martha Stewart pattern), a fabric friendly paint, and stencil away! (Tip: Use a drier brush and do a few layers of paint on each stencil, building the paint up, to avoid any paint bleed.) Let it dry and gift! Happy holidays!

Easy Winter Crafts for Kids (& Last Minute Christmas Gifts!)

Crafting as a family is an awesome way to bring everyone together, off the TV, away from Facebook, and get the whole gang creating, talking, and having fun. We recently went to a holiday program where they had crafts for kids and mine fell in love with the project so much they begged me to make more at home. Of course, I complied.

Pipe cleaner and pony bead snowflake make excellent Christmas tree ornaments (that can easily turn into wonderful last-minute Christmas gifts!) and when strung together, would make a lovely and unique garland to string along a mantel, to frame a window, or drape over a room from the ceiling. They are super simple to make for all ages (even my three-year-old made them with ease).

Pipe Cleaner and Pony Bead Snowflake Ornament Tutorial

Supplies:
  1. Plastic pony beads
  2. Pipe cleaners
  3. Thin ribbon
  4. Scissors
I bought all of my supplies at Michael's!


Instructions:

  1. Bend one pipe cleaner in half. (Repeat several times if you plan on making multiple snowflakes.)
  2. Use scissors to cut pipe cleaners in half.
  3. Take two halved pipe cleaners, wrap one around the other at their midpoints. This will create an "X" shape.
  4. Take a third halved pipe cleaner and wrap it around the midpoint of the "X". This will give you the base for your snowflake.
  5. Set that one aside and keep making snowflake bases.

6.  Have your kids pick the color of beads they would like to use. (Now is a good time to talk about how to create patterns!)

7.  Have the kids slide the beads onto each spoke of your snowflake. Leave about 1/2" at the end of each pipe cleaner. Now bend the ends over to secure the beads. Repeat folding the ends over until the last spoke of the snowflake.

8.  Before you bend the last spoke, take about a 10" piece of ribbon and tie it to form a loop. Place the middle of the loop on the last spoke, and bend the pipe cleaner over the ribbon. Twist the pipe cleaner around itself to secure the ribbon. 

Variation: If you would like to make a garland out of the snowflakes, tie two opposite spokes with ribbon and form a chain by connecting each new snowflake to the preceding snowflake's ribbon loop. 


9.  Next, straighten out any snowflake spokes that may have bent or were misshaped while beading and you're ready to decorate with your snowflakes!

Sweet Potato, Chickpea, & Kale Samosa Wrap (Vegan)

My lunch today: a whole wheat tortilla wrapped around mashed, baked sweet potato, chickpeas sauteed  in cumin, coriander, fennel, and ginger with red bell peppers, and sauteed, finely chopped kale flavored with light coconut milk, curry powder, garam masala. The whole shebang was the baked at 425 degrees on a baking sheet for about 10-15 minutes. Simple and healthy!

Nine Ladies Dancing! It's a Big Sale in the S&S Etsy Shop!


20% off the Scissors and Spice vintage Etsy shop! Use coupon code LASTMINUTE at check out. (Now expired, but if you really want the discount, send me a message!)

Look Who Came to Visit!

Our vintage, probably 1950s, Elf on a Shelf! My kids are equally freaked out and fascinated with it. Hopefully, he will keep them on their best behavior until Christmas.

Recently Random Christmas Haircuts









This time of year is certainly the favorite of everyone in my family and we're trying to squeeze out every and any bit of holiday cheer we can out of our area's seasonal offerings. We've been the "Christmas House," (a house located near us lights up [you can see it from the highway!] their house and grounds and lets neighbors stroll around), had fun at the Philadelphia Christmas market at Love Park, toured Northern Liberties during their holiday shopping spree (and had a great meal at Dos Segundos), and I even splurged on a great new haircut to get ready for the festivities. AND! We even bought our Christmas tree from a local charity already! Now, to light it and decorate it...  Hope you are all enjoying the season so far!

Spice in the Kitchen: Recipe: Balsamic Vinegar Braised Brussels Sprouts with Dried Tart Cherries and Roasted Walnuts



Super easy to make, these brussels sprouts with dried tart cherries and roasted walnuts make an awesome holiday side dish! I whipped the dish up on a busy weekday as a side, and it was a hit.

The brussels get browned on their cut side, and then the pan is then deglazed with balsamic vinegar before being flavored with mustard and sweetened with a liquid sweetener of your choice.



Balsamic Braised Brussels Sprouts with Dried Tart Cherries and Roasted Walnuts Recipe
vegan/ makes 2 servings/ time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups of brussels sprouts (de-stemmed, bad leaves removed, and cut in half vertically)
  • 2-4 TB olive oil
  • 1/8-1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TB mustard
  • 1 TB liquid sweetener
  • salt
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup walnuts (Toasted in oven at 350 for about 10 minutes.)
  • 1/8 cup chopped dried cherries (Montmorency cherries are the best!)
Directions
  1. Generously coat a large saute pan with olive oil, heat oil for a minute on medium and place brussels cut side down. Let fry for about 5 minutes, shake pan to make sure they are not sticking, and cover for about 10 minutes. Keep checking to make sure the sprouts aren't browning too quickly. If they are, turn down the heat. 
  2. When they are soft, pour in vinegar to deglaze the pan and turn down heat to low. Stir.
  3. Add mustard and liquid sweetener of choice. Add salt if desired.
  4. Toss in cherries and walnuts. Serve.

New to You, Newly Listed, and Goals!

Take a look at what's new in the Scissor and Spice Etsy shop!

Something really cool happened last week. I reached a really awesome goal. I like goals, they keep me motivated. So to keep me going strong with the Etsy shop, I wanted to put all the profits earned towards paying off my very last student loan. Yes, my. Last. Student, Loan. I was hoping it would happen before the end of the year, and it did! Hoo-ray! Seriously, I can't wait to write that "paid in full" check. Thank you to all my awesome customers for your patronage; I couldn't have done it without you!

Now, I still have some really good listings up, and I will continue adding more in the next few weeks. Take a look at some of the recent items in the shop. I can rush orders for the holidays; just let me know and we can make arrangements for priority shipping!

Check out all the new items here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ScissorsAndSpice

Vintage Children's Books: 1940s ABC by Whitman Publishing







I love the quaint and folksy illustrations and drop caps in this 1949 ABC book by Whitman Publishing. The individual pages would look great framed in a nursery or children's room.

Since I've always posted photos of the vintage children's books in my collection, I have decided to also sell them in the S&S Etsy shop. The Whitman ABC book is available here! Enjoy!

Bake Eggless Vegan Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies!

Sweet and salty, these butterscotchies fueled our leaf raking!

Taking traditional cookie recipes and veganizing or de-egging them is generally pretty easy. Dairy substitutes are a no-brainer; use Earth Balance for the butter (I love the buttery sticks--so easy to measure!) and for milk, just use you favorite non-dairy milk (mine is coconut in the carton). Now getting rid of the eggs is a bit more challenging. Veg News has a good article about replacing eggs and Vegan Baking has a really extensive guide to bakings without eggs. My go-to method, for cookies at least, is to replace the eggs with 1/4 cup of your favorite yogurt (full-fat and thick works best) and 1 TB of cornstarch. It generally works beautifully; it binds, it is moist and adds that element of fat that eggs normally give. Experiment and see what substitutes work best for your tastes and have fun with it!

To make vegan/eggless oatmeal butterscotchies cookies, use this recipe from Hershey's and use substitutions listed above. You can find vegan butterscotch chips at Vegan Essentials (just try not to eat them all before you make your cookies!). The recipe can also easily be made gluten-free by using GF baking mix and GF oatmeal!

The Bright Friday, NO, Weekend Sale in the Scissors & Spice Shop!


Everyone's doing it, so heck, let's have a sale! 15% off everything in the Scissors and Spice Etsy shop until Sunday! Use coupon code WEEKEND at check out. Hells yeah! Head on over to www.etsy.com/shop/ScissorsAndSpice and start saving now.

A Tip for Making Sweet Potato Casserole or Pie!

Peeling sweet potatoes for mashed sweet potatoes, casserole, or for pie can be such a daunting task. The tubers often have lots of bumps and grooves and can be very difficult to deal with despite their sugary nature. Don't fight with your tater, bake it!

Use this technique whenever you need cooked sweet potatoes for dishes like pie, sweet potato casserole (this technique ensures that the potatoes have nice, soft buttery texture) or mashed sweet potatoes.


When you bake a sweet potato, the natural sugars in it caramelize (and gives it a depth of flavor that you cannot achieve by steaming) and the skin peels off so easily.

To bake, preheat oven to 425. Wrap each sweet potato, with skin on, in aluminum foil and place directly on oven rack. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour (depending on the size of the potato). Remove from oven and let cool in foil. When cool, open and peel the skins off and now your ready to use them in your recipe!

Hello, New York!


I'm back after spending a few days in New York. Well, actually Jersey City, NJ. It's actually much cheaper to stay across the river and take the short train ride into the city (the Newport Path train puts you right into the center of the city!). The hotel rooms are bigger and more affordable (great for when you are staying with your family), you don't have to pay tolls to enter the city, deal with crazy traffic, parking is free or at a much lower cost, and best of all, you get to wake up to views like this: the lower half of Manhattan and the Hudson River!

We didn't really hit up any veg restaurant super stars, just our usuals, like Soy and Sake (great for the kids!). And if you follow me on Instagram (scissorsandspice), you may have went on a little tour of Soho with me late Monday morning. We had a great time, but now, it's time to hunker down and get the shop stocked for the holidays. I'll try to do some really great updates this week even with the wonderfully hectic Thanksgiving cook-a-thon already upon us. Think we're going to play it low-key this year and enjoy our family's dinner and then the next day, enjoy a vegan Thanksgiving at Su Tao in Malvern, PA. What are you doing for Tofurkey Day?

Sugar and Spice


This is a cute vintage 1940s tea towel that was just listed in the Scissors and Spice Etsy shop. Even though it has already been snatched up, I couldn't help but post this detailed picture (for obvious reasons!). If you want to stay up on additions to the shop and get first dibs, please follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook to know when I add new listings.

My Better Half's Projects


Mr. Scissors has been crafty! We've been working on some cool things for his blog's shop. First up, just in time for the holidays, is this handy custom Type and Lettering pencil case great for your favorite designophile. Use it to tote around your supplies, organize your make up or as an accessories bag. Comes packaged with a Type and Lettering custom pencil and there are additional sets of pencils for sale as well. Check it out and happy shopping!

Scissors Craft: Pinecone Decoration Ideas for Christmas

Our pinecone booty!

So, my kids had off Veteran's Day. I got an early start to the day, packaged up Etsy orders, made my list of errands, got the kids dressed, and headed out the door. Went to start the car... the battery was dead. URG! They left their overhead light on and it drained the life out of the car. Great... I was dead set on getting a coffee, so since it was a beautiful day, I locked the front door and told the kids to get walking. We were going to make the mile trek to Starbucks! Now, a mile is not that far, but when you live in the suburbs with no sidewalks, it makes things interesting, specially with a 3-year-old in tow.

In any case, it was actually a really nice walk and we came across a bounty of pinecones along the way. We "harvested" them to use in crafts. I'm still trying to decide what to do with them. Maybe a wreath for the front door? A golden centerpiece? A pinecone tree? Ornaments? I collected a bunch of ideas and thought I would list them here for those or you that have a bunch of pinecones you don't know what to do with. I'll let you know the final outcome after Thanksgiving! Oooh! suspense!

-To get started, run through these collections of ideas on how to use pinecones in your holiday decor:

Love the peanut butter/seed ideas (great to do with the kids!) and the glitter ceiling hanger on this blog:
http://bebehblog.com/7-things-to-do-with-pinecones/ 

And of course, Martha always has tons of ideas. My favorite is the window swag.
http://www.marthastewart.com/274350/pinecone-crafts/@center/307034/christmas-workshop

-Tutorials on how to prepare the pinecones once you bring them home. 

http://tipnut.com/how-to-prepare-preserve-pinecones/ 

http://popgoesthehome.com/try-this-bleached-pine-cones-give-an-autumnal-classic-a-new-look/



This lovely window display of pinecones comes from South Moon Under in Rehoboth Beach, DE. I like how there is a poppy element of color contrasted by the natural texture of the pinecones and twine. I might use this idea and do an acrylic paint dipped pinecone wreath.

-A tutorial on how to dip your pinecones in acrylic paint:
http://factorydirectcraft.com/factorydirectcraft_blog/paint-dipped-pinecones/

Happy crafting! I'll post pictures once I've decided how we are going to use our harvest!

Vintage Children's Books: Gravity is a Mystery







The best part of the book was the library card still attached to the inside cover!

"Gravity is a Mystery" by Franklyn M. Branley and illustrated by Don Madden, published in 1970.

I haven't posted images from a vintage children's book in awhile! I found this one the other day at the Salvation Army and fell in love with the illustrations and color palette.

Help The Snail Feed Hot Vegan Meals to Victims of Hurricane Sandy!

Donations can be sent via paypal to thecinnamonsnail@gmail.com

You guys know my love of Cinnamon Snail's delacacies; now I love them even more! They have been driving their vegan lunch truck to some of Sandy's hardest hit areas in New Jersey and New York and distributing free vegan meals to people in need. The best part is, you can help! It's as simple as sending any amount via paypal to thecinnamonsnail@gmail.com. Even if you only have $1 to spare, your help is greatly appreciated. They'll be in serving free meals to Rockaway Beach in Brooklyn on Saturday and serving paying customers in Red Bank, NJ on Sunday. Thanks, and please spread the word!

Vote with Your Kids!

From Instagram: follow me @scissorsandspice

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that today is election day in the USA. I brought my kids with me and we had great discussion about in what country we live (with my 3-year-old) and about different governmental positions and for whom we were voting (with my 6-year-old). My father, from a very early age, taught me to be politically aware, and I hope to do the same with my children. Instead of leaving them with their grandparents or voting while they are in school, bring them with you for a very important social studies lesson! Now go vote! :)

Give Thanks for Vegan Pumpkin Spiced Cupcakes!

Pumpkin, pumpkins, everywhere! While pumpkin pie is a traditional staple at everything thanksgiving table, why not mix it up this year? I baked these moist, not too sweet, pumpkin cupcakes for my husband's birthday and they were a hit! I filled them with a pumpkin butter, topped them with a maple cream cheese frosting, and then sprinkled them with toasted, candied walnut pieces, a little bit of candied ginger, and a dusting of cinnamon.

If you'd like, you could also make these as muffins. Substitute some of the flour with whole wheat and leave off the toppings for a seasonal breakfast treat.

Below is the recipe for the cake. Just use your favorite frosting and filling to give it your own personal touch! Tip: The cupcakes are actually better if made a day or two ahead of time and kept in the fridge; they become more moist as they sit!

The cupcakes being filled with pumpkin butter!

Moist Pumpkin Cake or Cupcake Recipe (vegan, eggless)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups AP flour

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 
3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 TB pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp baking soda

  • 2 TB molasses
  • 2 cups of puree
d pumpkin
  • 2 cups water
  • 
½ cup vegetable, canola, or other mild-flavored oil
  • 2 TB apple cider vinegar
  • 
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake tins with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
  3. In another small bowl, mix together molasses, pumpkin and water. Set aside.
  4. Make three divots in your dry ingredients. In one, add oil, in the next add vinegar, and in the last, add vanilla. Pour the water/pumpkin mixture on top and mix together ingredients until combined.
  5. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until done. Let cool and then decorate as desired.