new years eve morning

The last day of 2015.  Part of me can hardly believe it.  The other part is extremely excited for the new year.  A clean slate.  Is there anything better?
I've been over here this morning working on a last minute year end project.  The bella cowl.  It's been frogged because for some reason when I grabbed my yarn and my coffee I decided to grab two balls of yarn.  And hold them both together.  Say what?  By noon I had a thick cushy piece of material.  I just couldn't understand why... Until I dug out the pattern.  My pattern.  OY.
Oh well.  In with the new.
Enjoy the last day of 2015, friends!

festive sugar cookies

Happy Christmas Eve!
So, I'm pretty much completely finished with my Christmas prep.  
At the last minute we decided to not bake cookies.  Gasp!  I know!  I was a little bummed.  But then, after I accepted the decision... I felt great!
We have tons of chocolate.  And a friend gave us a cheesecake.  So it's not that a little sugar won't be consumed.  
Last week we made our favorite sugar cookie.  We rolled the log in red and green crystals to make them festive.
Sugar Cookies:

1 cup of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugars, add egg and vanilla.  Mix well.  Add dry ingredients until combined.  Place dough on wax paper and form into log.  Refrigerate for one hour.  Sprinkle colored sprinkles along edge and roll until covered.  Cut into 1/4 inch rounds.  Bake 10-12 minutes at 350°.

becoming 27

 Birthday cakes are my absolute favorite to make.   I usually ask the children what flavor cake they would like and what color frosting.  The cake differs, but the icing is always the same.
 Then I make a stencil by hand and place it on top of the cake.   Pressing down slightly to keep clean lines.
 Pour the sprinkles slowly and slightly press down.  I absolutely love these gold crystals I found in our local grocery store.
Carefully remove the stencil.  Personalize it with some icing that was saved before it was tinted.  Pop in a few candles and S I N G!

Tessa is Steve's oldest daughter.  I giggled when Libby said that Tessa's was so much prettier than hers.  I said I couldn't even remember what color hers was.  She reminded me... brown.  Ha!  She requested Chocolate frosting.  ;)

Our favorite Butter Cream Frosting:

1 cup salted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbls milk

Cream the butter until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar and continue creaming until well blended.  Add the vanilla and milk and blend on low speed for 2 minutes.  (Add additional milk if needed by the teaspoons.)  Beat at high speed until the frosting is fluffy.

*It's the only time I ever buy salted butter and I always double this recipe.  I usually have some left over, but I found there is nothing worse than trying to ice a cake with a minimal amount of frosting.  For a chocolate frosting add 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 2 tsp of milk.

chalk cloths


Okay, I have something fun for your Chalk Lots!  Chalk Cloths!  They add the handmade touch to the gift that makes life even sweeter!  And you can whip one up for your Chalk Lot recipient in no time!
And, I have a great idea!  One set of Chalk Lots can be divided up into four gifts.  (4/set) They really make a great hostess gift.  Or gift for a friend.  Or a neighbor.  Or teacher.  Or boss.  Throw in a chalk cloth and an easel and they have a menu/reminder/inspiration board!

 White for Graham Cracker.
Black for Licorice.  
The Chalk Cloth pattern is just a standard wash cloth pattern.  I like to use Sugar'n Cream yarn.  Super durable. 
Last day to order Chalk Lots for Christmas delivery is probably Thursday.  If there is a question, please feel free to shoot me an email.

a quick handmade gift

Okay, this is one of my favorite things I have ever received.
My sister made these last year.  One of our little get togethers where she makes us cry, cause her "party favor" is the most thoughtful, loving, beautiful.  Always.
A set of personalized coasters.  With some of my favorite moments.  
And these days, it's so much easier to grab your friends photos with Facebook and Instagram.  Just take screen shots, resize to the coaster size (4x4) and print!  It couldn't be easier!
I found a tutorial here.
Honestly, grab your materials this week and have a crafty couple of hours over the weekend. Still in plenty of time for Christmas.  I think moms could give them to dads, parents, lovers, friends, kids.   And vice versa on all!
I think its just the perfect little gift.

a few of my favorite things

I thought I would share a few things I have been loving in 2015.  Maybe you are still in need of a gift and maybe one of these will spark your interest!  
First off, I love anything wood in the kitchen. My wooden plates are used on an almost daily basis. Those, pictured above, are from Pampered Chef.  I'm in love.  The tray is used for crackers or cookies or to hold the little bowls for nuts or condiments or candy.  You name it.  A new favorite in my kitchen.  
I discovered this Pure Argan Oil sometime last spring.  And since then, I use it ALL of the time.  In my hair overnight for a deep conditioning.  On my excema.  As an all over moisturizer.  On my cuticles.  As a hand moisturizer at night.  On my feet.  Hair.  Skin. Hair.... you get the picture.  You can read all of the benefits and uses of Argan Oil here.  I think it is priced right for a gift that just keeps on giving.  
I love hot yoga and this little product is just about the coolest.  Hot yoga makes you sweat.  I'm talking, clothes that are completely drenched.  This yogi cozy hugs your car seat so you don't get sweat all over your seat.  The fabric is a turkish cotton... so nice to sit on.  Take it off and throw it in the machine with your yoga clothes and your car seat is completely fresh for your next outing.  I just love this thing.

I'll be back with a couple of quick handmade favorites.

last week

So, Libby and I staged a little photo shoot for the Chalk Lots website. (A work in progress.) And it involved a V E R Y yummy cookie.  Which was just perfect for the cookie of the week because we were out of butter.  (Say it isn't so!  I am rarely EVER out of butter.  In fact, I always have an excess. I'll never forget the time I heard a friend of Libby's say to another friend, "OMG, Mrs. Friend has NINE sticks of butter!")
 But, this particular day, it was true, I was out of butter.  And it was like the cookie Gods intersected and showed me Katie's post highlighting her favorite cookie. With every one of her family members loving these cookies.  And better yet, it involved vegetable oil instead of butter.  I usually steer away from recipes like this.  Or I use almond oil.  Or sunflower oil.  But this time I went for it and used the vegetable oil.
And guess what?  They are exactly what Katie said.  A pillowy brownie that is rolled in powdered sugar.  A chocolate lovers dream.

the winners

I'm over here trying to untangle and test the lights.  White this year.  And I'm so excited about it.  I have been alternating between color and white for years.  The white lights are my absolute favorite.

I had the random number generator choose numbers for the winners of Faerie Magazine.   Caroline was chosen for the one year subscription and Melissa and M Laley and for the current issue. Congrats!  Please email me at lesliemfriend at gmail dot com and I will be sure they land in your hands.  So much goodness in that magazine!

my to do list

Happy December!
I'm so excited this year. I'm even considering sending out cards! That's a pretty big deal considering I haven't done them for the last 5 years! And, we actually brought a tree home today. Already! I think this is the earliest we have EVER had a tree.
I sat down yesterday and came up with a short list of things I wanted to make.  Not a huge list, but big enough.
Would love to hear about your knit lists.  Do you have a favorite you love to knit.  Do you make many gifts?  What's on your list?  Do tell!  I'm sure we would all love to hear!