Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Santa Doll Makeover

Well, it's officially the Christmas season, which means sparkling snow, pretty twinkle lights, cookie baking, and holiday crafting.

To kick off this December, I thought I would share this DIY gift that I had fun making for my mom a few years ago. She likes to collect Santa dolls to display in her home at Christmastime, so I came up with the idea to design and make her a custom doll. I ended up buying a Ken doll and modifying it to look like Santa Claus. See below for my work-in-progress pictures and the end results.




BEFORE
This particular doll worked well because I could use the boots in the final Santa outfit.



I used permanent markers to add some wrinkles and rosy cheeks to the face.



I sewed batting scraps around the body of the doll to plump him up a bit. I then designed and knit a miniature winter sweater, and also sewed him a pair of pants and hat from fabric scraps.



I glued strips of white specialty fur yarn to the face to create the eyebrows and hair, and knit a small block with the yarn to create the beard.



AFTER

Happy December!
Niki



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And don't forget... My Christmas coloring book is for sale on Amazon!



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pretty Patterned Pumpkin Roll

Thanksgiving is around the corner. Usually, I love to make pies for dessert. And there will be pie. Lots of it. But sometimes it is fun to do something different. I like to use the Thanksgiving season to experiment with new fall recipes. A little while back, I discovered patterned cakes on Pinterest was instantly intrigued. Pretty patterns + baking = LOVE. They are just so pretty.

Pinterest search for "patterned cake roll"

Basically, it is a swiss roll cake where a design is drawn out with different colored cake batter before pouring the rest of the batter into the pan, so it creates a design on the cake. This was the first one I attempted. It was a basic yellow cake with strawberry jam and whipped cream filling, so the pattern was appropriately themed.

strawberry cake roll

For my second attempt, I created my own recipe for a fall-themed cake. It is chocolate/pumpkin flavored with an autumn pattern and color scheme. Here is the result:



This would be a nice addition to a Thanksgiving table. The extra effort to create such a pretty presentation are perfect for special occasions. The link to download the printable recipe is below.



Pretty Patterned Chocolate Pumpkin Roll

Ingredients

Cake
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 3 large room temperature eggs
• 1 cup sugar
• 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
• 1 Tbl cocoa

Filling
• 1-8 oz. package cream cheese
• 6 tablespoons softened butter
• 3/4 cup powdered sugar
• 1/4 cup cocoa
• 1 tsp vanilla




Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 15.5 x 10.5 inch jelly roll pan. Line with parchment paper and grease and flour the paper.



2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside. In a larger bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar. Add the pumpkin and mix well. Stir in the flour mixture.


3. Reserve 3/4 cup of the batter and add the tablespoon of cocoa. Place chocolate batter into a squeeze bottle or piping bag. Create your design on the prepared parchment-lined pan.


4. Bake the chocolate pattern for just a few minutes in the oven until the design begins to set.
5. Pour the remaining pumpkin batter into the pan over the design and spread evenly. Bake for 13-15 minutes until the cake springs back when touched.
6. Immediately turn cake out onto a baking rack covered with a clean towel that has been sprinkled with powdered sugar. Carefully remove the parchment. Cool slightly, but not completely—just so it can be handled more easily. While still warm, flip over again onto a clean parchment lined pan so the design is face down once more.


Roll up the cake with the parchment (from one of the shorter ends) and let cool further.


7. For the filling, beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, cocoa, and vanilla until smooth. Carefully unroll the cool cake. Trim off the thinner, harder edges to even out. Spread the filling over the top, without going all the way to the edges. Roll up the cake once more with the filling, placing the end at the bottom to keep it from unrolling. Trim the ends for a clean, neat look if needed.


8. Cover and chill to set the filling. Bring back to room temperature before serving if desired.


Enjoy!
Niki



LINKS



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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

For the Beauty of the Earth

I don't know about you, but I am so glad this election in the U.S. is finally over. Moving forward, I think everyone would be much better off focusing on the positive things and what a blessing it is to live in a beautiful world and—yes, all you Americans—a wonderful country, especially in this month of Thanksgiving. And that's probably about all you'll ever see me post about politics. You're welcome.

As you may have seen on my illustration blog or social media, I have been working on learning brush lettering, and I've found that I especially like to work with watercolors. I still have a lot to learn and practice, but it has been a lot of fun so far. I created this piece from one of my favorite hymns, "For the Beauty of the Earth." I thought it was appropriate to the theme of gratitude this month. Click on the link below to download a free printable. :)


Have a beautiful day!
Niki



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Friday, November 4, 2016

Merry Coloring!

Halloween is over... bring on the holidays!

I'm usually not one to skip over Thanksgiving and go straight into Christmas, but I am particularly excited to share a holiday-themed project that I have just finished.



For the past few months, I have been hard at work creating a collection of adult coloring pages with a Christmas theme. If you follow me on Facebook, you already know that not only have I completed the designs, but I've compiled them into a book that is now for sale in Amazon! This is something I have wanted to do for a long time because I love adult coloring designs. Their intricate detail and fun patterns are so attractive to my sense of style as an artist. They are so much fun to both color and create. While I think it is wonderful how popular they have become in recent years, I find that the market has been flooded with substandard work. My hope in creating my own pages is to make the kinds of pages I like to see myself and to inspire creativity in others. Here is an excerpt from the Introduction that sums up my philosophy:

"I most like to see designs that are hand-drawn, thoughtfully composed, and full of beautiful patterns and decorative elements, because those are fun to color. . . . I can promise is that a lot of time, thought, care, and passion have gone into these designs. I hope you enjoy coloring these pages as much as I enjoyed creating them. Have fun and make them your own!"

Here's a view of the back cover to give you a preview of some of the designs inside.



I hope you all enjoy my book, and I look forward to creating more in the future!

Niki



LINKS

Buy Merry Christmas: Holiday Designs for Coloring now!



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Friday, October 28, 2016

Baby Ewoks and Zombie Bunnies

Before Adelaide was even born, I have been excited to celebrate her first Halloween. I have been so excited to dress her up, and I had so many different ideas for costumes. I knew I wanted it to be something kinda geeky, but sweet and adorable. Unfortunately, when I moved, I gave away 90% of my craft supplies and left behind my sewing machine back in New Hampshire, so I was going to be facing some limitations as to what I could make. Then one day while browsing Pinterest, I came across this image:

Pinterest image - click for link to pin

A baby Ewok! Is this not the most adorable thing you've ever seen? Not only that, but the baby even looks like Ada. And it looked rather simple to put together—just a bear costume, T-shirt, and a stick made into a makeshift spear. Flash forward a few weeks when Halloween season is in full swing, and I found that exact teddy bear costume at Walmart. Geeky, cute, simple, and all the materials readily available. This was the costume. It was meant to be.

The basic parts to Ada's Ewok costume

The Pinterest link only had this image rather than leading to a website with instructions, so I improvised. I found a cheap shirt, made holes for the ears above the neck hole, cut off the sleeves and up the side seams, and trimmed it down to size. I bought a large shirt to be on the safe side, but found it was a little too big, and it probably would've worked better with a smaller size. I made it work, though. The hood is meant to look a little rough, anyway, so I wasn't too careful about how I cut it, either. I found a stick outside on the ground and attached an arrowhead made of cardboard to it with a rubber band for the spear. Here is the end result:



I could just die from how cute she is. I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I can't wait to take this girl trick-or-treating!

And for some more Halloween cuteness, take a look at these cookies I made based on my sister Dani's mini comic Zombie Bunny. (Click on the image for a link to the story. Trust me, just go read it. It's short. And it's adorable.)



I was inspired when I found a bunny head cookie cutter, probably meant to make cute Easter cookies like this...



...but it reminded me of the Zombie Bunny character, and what better time of year to create some cute monster cookies?







I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween!

Niki



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