Friday, December 19, 2014

IMO, The Best Christmas Cookies You Will Ever Eat

Yes, I know I told you I was taking a break from Blogland, but while I was making my annual batch of Andes Candies Cookies today, I thought it would be a wonderful recipe to share with you! I started making these about 20 years ago. The recipe, which I found in a magazine, produces a yummy, soft, chocolate chewy cookie with a hint of mint!  The recipe called for peppermint wafers and I wasn't sure what they meant, so I found a box of Andes Creme de Menthe Thins, used them, and have never looked back. 

Over the years, I have gifted many batches of these favorites and the recipients always ask for the recipe after they have tried them....so trust me...these are that good that you can never eat just one! Many of my friends, and even my children's friends,  now make the same cookies every year as part of their Christmas traditions. Of course, they always look better on a Santa plate!



I bought the Andes candies this year at the local grocery store, but they are also available at our dollar store. They are a seasonal candy and over the past years, I have found them during the Christmas season at Shoppers Drug, Canadian Tire, and department stores. I would imagine any mint wafer would work just as well.

Here is the recipe. 

Chocolate Mints-Andes Candies Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen.
350 degrees for 12-13 minutes.

3/4 cup margarine.
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
2 cups chocolate chips. I always use Hersheys Semi-sweet Chipits.
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 packages Andes Creme de Menthe Thins



Before I start the cookies, I prepare the mints. I unwrap them and divide them in two bowls.

One bowl has mints that have been shaved with a potato peeler to create little swirls.



The other bowl has unwrapped candies cut into thirds and the bits and pieces that were too small to shave.

Heat margarine, sugar and water in large saucepan over low heat until margarine melts.

Add Chipits, stirring until partially melted.  Remove from heat and continue stirring until chocolate is completely melted.

Pour into large mixer bowl and let stand about 10 minutes to cool slightly.

Beat in eggs, 1 at a time.

Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, beating just until blended. Batter will be very, very thick!



Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with foil.

Scoop out a teaspoon of cookie dough per cookie and roll into a ball. The cookie dough will have the consistency of soft fudge.





I usually cook mine for the full 13 minutes. They will be cracked when they come out of the oven. I leave them on the cookie sheet while I "ice" them with the Andes mints. I place a 1/3 of a mint on each hot cookie. 



Let soften and use a fork to swirl the melted mint. Decorate with shaved swirls.

  
The magazine said that each cookie is 100 calories, but I dare you to eat just one!

If you would rather print out the recipe rather than follow along on your computer, just send me an email at lcarruthers3@gmail.com and I'll email you the recipe. 

I turned off my comments so you would have more time in the kitchen!


Again a very Merry Christmas! It's a great day for quilting!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Time to Bake the Cookies

Christmas continues to grow and grow and grow in my house. The decorating is done with 16 ( I counted) of my Christmas quilts in festive glory around the house. They are on the fridge, on the walls, on the tables, on the beds, and even on a ladder!  

The sun finally shone for a bit today so I took my quilt ladder outside ( a perfect gift from Santa Mary last year) and grabbed a picture of Nostalgic Christmas. The ladder then moved into the dining room once the sun dropped beneath the clouds.



Nostalgic Christmas is a quilt designed by Lynn at Sew'n Wild Oaks that I finished last year. Read all about it HERE. One of my all-time favorites!

So on to my snowman quilt, or Warm Winter Blessings as designer Lisa Bongean calls it! I finished my 'loop de loop' filler quilting in the background of the blue blocks and have started cross hatch quilting for the triple sashing. I saw this done on my Country Charmer quilt that Lynn quilted for me last year and decided to try to replicate it in my very "beginner FMQ way". Have a peek...









Thank you, Lynn, for your suggestion to mark the one inch increments. I am using a Frixion pen and will iron out the marks when done.

As for the borders, I am thinking of doing  a snowflake pattern for the blue border, and perhaps some swirls for the cream border to mimic a cold blustery winter day. If anyone has some ideas for a FMQ newbie, please send them along! And yes, the arms and shoulders do get a little sore from FMQ so I am doing the quilting in little bits at a time.

When the sun came out today for a few minutes, I raced to hang out my latest flannel finish.



The quilt top is the size for a twin bed and should fit perfectly in the spare room for the winter. It may take me all winter to quilt it!

Of course, the wind was blowing and blowing...



I looked at the calendar and then looked at what I want to have done by the time DS comes home on the 19th. DD and DSIL will be far away this Christmas but always close in our hearts. Thank goodness for Face time too so Mom, me and sisters three can also have some great chats! 

Because time is getting short, I'm going to wish everyone a Merry Christmas now while I take some time off from Blogland for Christmas baking, wrapping, and a little last minute shopping. Thanks so much for coming by today and every day, have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends (and perhaps a little fabric) and see you in the New Year!

I know I will have lots of visions of sugarplums while spending time with these Christmas quilts!



It's a great day for quilting!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Santa is on the Way

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our house. I hung my Christmas quilts, I listen to Christmas music every day, and I continue to work on a variety of fun Christmas projects while eating the occasional Christmas cookie!

I finished the flimsy of Santa is on the Way ( read about it HERE)  by adding the borders and squaring it up. We've had so many cloudy days lately that I decided not to try to wait for a sunny day to take a picture. In fact, the day I took this, there were a few flurries in the air.



The quilt top measures 40" x  42" and I plan to do my own machine quilting, probably in the new year. I often continue to work on Christmas projects well into January and then put them away when finished. That way, when I look in my Christmas cupboard next Fall, I may be pleasantly surprised to see what is waiting for me!

I found a great use for drapery clip-rings. They make it so easy to hang a quilt top for a picture!



I think I bought mine at a drapery store but they can probably be purchased at a department store or a hardware store.




My Holly Wreath project is a finish. The snap sack kit took no time to put together though I kind of got carried away with my new found love of  FMQ. I've got to get better at it if I keep doing it, right?



The holly leaves and berries were done with fusible web and raw-edge applique.  Then I used my go-to loopy stitches, some crosshatching, and some alternating circles on a semi-straight line for the final border.



The little topper measures 18" square and is framed with a wonderful striped fabric I had on hand. Definitely a fun, easy, little project!

With these items out of the way, it was time to pull out my "Cabins at the Lake" project featured in the Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting November/December 2014 issue. I love making house quilts and this one will be so warm and cozy when finished.

I have a couple of houses done..



all the roofs finished...



and the walls are made. 




The colours of these fabrics are not as they appear in the pictures, but once the quilt top is finished, I'll hang it outside and take a picture to give you a better idea. Many of the fabrics are from the Timeless Treasures line of flannels combined with Moda's Wool and Needle flannels. I have a little more work to do before I add the cornerstones and sashing. The construction of these cozy flannel houses just makes me smile! 

I love this time of year. Changing my quilts in the livingroom is always my favorite step in decorating the house. The Santas will join the quilts this weekend!



Update: Some of you have commented on this quilt so I looked up the information about it. This quilt is called Bows and Boughs, was designed by Heidi Korey, and was featured in the November/December 2011 issue of McCall's Quilting. I purchased a kit from McCalls at that time.

Thanks for coming by today. I know time is very precious these days so I sure do appreciate your visits. It's a great day for quilting!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christmas at the Shop and in my Sewing Corner

The Olde Tyme Christmas celebrations began last weekend and the Artisans Collective shop will be open again from Friday through to Sunday from 2:00 - 7:00 each day. It was so much fun to help set up the shop last week with my crafty friends. I would love to have you visit the shop, but I know many of you are not within driving distance so I am bringing the shop to you through some pictures.

The shop is set up in one large room at the back of the Port Hastings Museum. At this time of year, we don't have many large quilts for sale, so we changed the layout a bit and lined the room with tables to better display placemats, runners, etc.  I did put a couple of my Christmas quilts in the shop, but more to cozy up the place than to expect a sale. Here is a peek at what you would see if you visit us this weekend...




Those gorgeous flannel quilts hanging on the wall behind the bed were made by my quilter friend, Barb. The one on the left sold last weekend. People love flannel quilts in our area, especially at this time of year. 

My Feathered Christmas tree looks quite at home in this red and green corner, flanked by lots of Christmas stockings and my Festive Mystery in the middle made during Quilt Sue's Christmas QAL awhile back. 



We have some wonderful wool pieces in the shop including this sampler, overlooking some of the wood turned ornaments and items made by a couple of hubbies. Yes, we do allow some hubbies a little creative space too!




A few Christmas lap quilts are just waiting to find a new home. There is definitely a snowflake theme amongst the collection this year!


We have a great selection of wall hangings, many featuring those "men in white", or as we call them, snowmen! We always have an assortment of aprons and lots of knitted goods too.



Runners, runners, and more runners! 


Lots of pretty placemats, especially those with my favorite Santa!



We even have a few thread painting projects. Carolyn's "Three Wise Men" hanging is amazing! 


A couple of the gals decorated the shop for us, including this festive tree, wrapped with measuring tapes and adorned with sewing notions. I adore this tree skirt circling the base.


Bake sales to raise money for the museum are held on each of the Saturdays that we are open beginning at 2:00. I couldn't resist picking up a couple of Santa cans at the local dollar store and filling them with cookies for the bake sale. Isn't he gorgeous!


The little wreath quilt in the background is a "Snap Sack" kit I won in the Fall. It is a fun little kit that came together very quickly. I want to make the wreath pop a bit so may do some FMQ to finish it off. I am still challenging myself to finish my other Christmas UFOs. Even to have them ready for next year would be an accomplishment.

I did some more work on my Santa Claus Lane quilt by Jan Patek. I finished the centre applique last summer and then put it away. I pulled it out last week but, as usual, changed the design a bit. Jan uses a variety of applique to surround a primitive Santa including trees, angels, snowmen, and stars. I fell in love with her trees. Instead of tracing the shapes and piecing them, I photocopied the tree pattern  and paper pieced a bunch to make a forest!


My Featherweight has proved to be a perfect paper piecer! 



This is Santa's forest. I couldn't resist adding some embroidered words in the snow...


The trees look a little wobbly, but I know when I add the borders, they'll straighten up. I auditioned lots of fabrics and took lots of pictures to help me make my decision on which fabric to choose for the border. I decided to go with the fabric you see on the bottom right hand side...a green leafy floral on a black background. 


And see what arrived in my mail today? A delightful Santa postcard, masterfully created and FMQ'd by Miss Linda of Scrapmaster fame.  I adore it, Linda, thanks so much! 



It arrived safe and sound complete with the stamp! 



I still have lots going on in my sewing corner, but at this time of year, it tends to get a bit secretive, so I'll keep it to myself. Thanks so much for coming by. I know all of us seem to have less time these days, so I really appreciate your visit. It's a great day for quilting!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Countdown is on...

Two more days until me, myself and 11 of my crafty friends set up our Artisans Collective shop for the Olde Tyme Christmas at the Port Hastings Museum. Press releases have been issued, posters distributed, and all of us are like Santa's elves...busy in our workshops.  We are only open for a total of thirty hours during the next two weekends so we want the experience for our visitors to be exceptional.  As in the past, the shop will be filled to the rafters and visitors will be welcomed through our door to browse, to shop, and of course to buy a ticket on a basket filled with hand-crafted goodies.

I am in my self-proclaimed race to the finish, trying to change those UFOs from Christmas past to Christmas presents. Yes, pun intended!

In the past week, I have totally changed my plans for my Icicle Snowman runner. You can read about my original plans HERE. I decided to make some star blocks to frame my little guy and jumped in to do my first ever FMQ! All I have left is to FMQ the blue star points on the second star and the final border and add a binding. (Thank you, teacher Linda at Scrapmaster, for giving me the confidence to FMQ through the workshop you taught us a few weeks back.)  I used the "loop de loop" design this time around. Icicle Snowman will definitely be a finish for the shop.


I embellished my snowman with a few blue snowflakes and some outline stitching, a bit different from the original design HERE.


Then I added a bit of winter to my stars with some die-cut snowflakes that I bought last year from my not-so-close LQS


Apparently we are expecting snow on Thursday, so my Icicle Snowman will have some friends! 

I finished up a couple of small table toppers too. I love combining stitcheries with fabric, so these were fun to do, not too taxing, and one of them will be donated to the gift basket for the draw. The first one is 14" x 16" and the second one is 12.5" x 12.5".



Another project that I have ready for the shop is a Christmas table runner with a more modern flair. I can't remember the name of the fabric, but if you do a close-up, you will see the fabric is full of Christmas ornaments and holly. The pattern is designed by Nova Scotian designers, 2 Easy Design. I bought the pattern and kit at a quilt show in Pictou awhile back.


I used my "go-to" straight line quilting which always gives such great texture and allows the runner to lay flat on a table.


For this runner, I used a "new to me" method of sewing the binding to the back, folding over to the front, and stitching on the front. It leaves a narrow binding showing on the back and a wider binding showing on the front. By matching the thread colours on both sides, it results in a very tidy and quick binding.


Warm Winter Blessings is still on my quilting to do list but I had to send away for the perfect thread colour that would blend into the blue background. I plan to FMQ this one, and contrary to other FMQers out there, I don't want my quilting to show! Will keep you posted.

Thanks so much for coming by today and a very Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends who will celebrate later this week.

It's a great day for quilting!