5 Things to Make by Hand

It’s beginning to really feel like fall in Chicago, and it has me itching to dig into some cozy craft projects in the coming months. To me, cooler weather is optimal crafting time. We inevitably spend more time indoors in fall and winter, and I’ve got to do¬†something to prevent myself from going to bed by 8 o’clock when the sun sets so early. (I’m dreading daylight savings.)

Today I thought I’d share a few projects that I’ve been eyeing online as ones I’d like to try. Maybe they’ll inspire you to make something with your hands, too! Enjoy ūüôā

Cowl via Purl Soho

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When it comes to knitting, I don’t often stray too far from basic patterns. One of my goals is to branch out a bit more and try different techniques and styles. This cowl pattern from Purl Soho seems like a nice way to do that. It should be simple enough that I’ll have success, but will result in a pattern I’ve never tried before. Plus, I have the perfect two colors to try it with.

Orange Spiced Sugar Cookies via This Mess is Ours

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Nothing says fall/winter quite like citrus and spices. These cookies caught my eye as ones I’d like to bake. I ‚̧ cookies.

Homemade Seed Packets via Idlewife

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As Anne’s mom’s garden has come to an end for the season, I’ve found myself having this urge to save seeds from this year’s flowers. Being that our wedding flowers came from her garden in July, they have an extra special place in my heart. I’m especially excited for our hyacinth, strawberry corn, sunflower, and millet seeds.¬†These seed packets are the perfect way to save them for next year!

Embroidered Alphabet Sampler via Purl Soho

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I actually have this project waiting patiently in the wings for me. I received it as a Christmas gift last year and embarrassingly haven’t gotten to trying it yet. This sampler teaches you a wide variety of stitches, and being that I’ve never done embroidery before, this should be a good way to learn!

Mozzarella Sticks via Food52

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Food52 claims that these homemade mozzarella sticks are better than anything you will find in a grocery store (duh), pool, bowling alley, or roller rink. One tip I didn’t know? Freeze them before frying them to insure the cheese doesn’t ooze out from beneath the breading. I am certainly going to give these a try. If they work out as well as they say it does, you’ll most likely be able to hear me shrieking from wherever it is that you are.

It’s a good thing that Chicago’s winters are long. I’ve got a lot of projects to try in the next six months! How do you spend your free time in fall and winter? What are some things you’re hoping to try or get done while the days are shorter and the weather is cooler?

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Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies

Happy Hallows’ Eve! As Anne and I prepare to watch the ever-important Chicago Cubs game¬†tonight, I thought I’d share the¬†recipe for some cookies we made this weekend. They are from¬†The Salty Marshmallow¬†and are the perfect Halloween-themed treat. It’s not too late to make some yourself. Maybe as you cheer on the Cubs?!

The secret to these cookies is that they include Butterfinger baking bits. Think chocolate candy-meets-homemade-baked-good. Yup. You’re welcome!

If you have trick-or-treat candy lingering into the week, you could crush anything and mix it into this delicate and chewy¬†peanut butter cookie dough. Kit Kats, Snickers, Reese’s cups, M&Ms… The list goes on.

Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies (from The Salty Marshmallow)

Active time: 15 minutes | Bake time: 10 minutes | Yields: 60 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2¬Ĺ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¬Ĺ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¬Ĺ tsp salt
  • ¬Ĺ cup granulated sugar
  • ¬Ĺ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups Butterfinger baking bits

Preheat oven to 375¬įF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In an electric mixer, beat butter and peanut butter until fluffy. Add egg and beat until incorporated. Beat in sugars and vanilla. While the mixer is running, slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated. Stir in Butterfinger baking bits.

Use a spring-loaded scooper to create tablespoon-sized balls of dough. Drop onto prepared baking sheets. Press down slightly with the back of a spoon to flatten.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until bottoms are a light golden brown. Remove even if cookies do not appear completely baked. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

From Scissors & Sage

Happy Halloween!

Spooky Sinner Cider Cocktail

This post comes courtesy of Anne Kenealy, Scissors & Sage’s number one fan and frequent behind-the-scenes editor. This isn’t her first¬†post on the blog, although her last how-to was much more technical than the cocktail recipe that follows. She’s made this drink for many a guest, and everyone always seems to enjoy it. Make it at your next gathering, and it’ll be a crowd-pleaser!

From Anne: Every autumn around¬†apple-picking season, this cocktail returns to our regular rotation here at the international headquarters of Scissors & Sage. Its¬†sweet-tart zing¬†makes it an almost irresistible tonic¬†when the weather begins to cool, and it’s great in big batches for Halloween (hence its name) or Thanksgiving.

Non-alcoholic ginger beer has been a favorite cocktail mixer of ours since Moscow mules came back into vogue. Its snappy¬†heat and carbonation allow it to¬†blend well with neutral liquors like vodka and to balance stronger, smokier whiskeys. When we mixed¬†it with fresh apple cider, the sweetness of the cider was cut by the spice of the ginger, and we knew we’d found a perfect match.

Spooky Sinner Cider Cocktail

Ingredients for two cocktails:

  • 3 oz. vodka
  • 6 oz. fresh apple cider
  • 4 oz. ginger beer (We use the non-alcoholic¬†Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew.)
  • Two handfuls of ice
  • Two thin slices of apple (for garnish)

Add a handful of ice to a rocks glass and slip a slice of apple down the side of the glass, so that it’ll be visible when the drink is poured. Add¬†1.5 oz. vodka and 3 oz. apple cider. Top with 2 oz. ginger beer and stir to mix.

From Scissors & Sage 

Enjoy!

ALL PHOTOS TAKEN BY ANNE KENEALY

Rain Project

A few weeks back, I temporarily inherited a sewing machine that’s been in my family for over 30 years. I say temporarily because it’s my mom’s sewing machine. My grandpa–who was a custom tailor at Bergdorf Goodman–sewed many a things on this machine for my sister and me growing up. If you haven’t realized through reading Scissors & Sage yet, my grandparents have been a big influence on the person I am becoming. Their values and morals–and good taste in music and in food–shaped me over the many years they came over to help take care of us.

When my dad dug out this sewing machine from our basement at home and brought it down to Philly, we hesitantly set it up on my drafting table, plugged it in, and flipped the switch. The light came on and it was ready to be used–almost as if it were waiting to be used. We read through the instruction manual and learned the basics. I’ve since tested out a few¬†stitches on scrap¬†fabric, but now I want to really get going with it.

That’s where my¬†rain project comes in. The point of a rain project is to choose something that you have been wanting to get started on, but haven’t found the right moment for. It should be a project that is both ongoing and has no deadline. Work on it on days that it is raining, and time spent indoors feels cozy and right. It could be a new skill, like learning to sew, or knitting a big blanket for the first time. It could even be teaching yourself how to bake, working your way through a cookbook, or organizing every closet in your home. It’s up to you. The only requirement is that you take it nice and slow. Your rain project might turn into a snow project (yay snow days), and then back to a rain project come spring.

I’ll certainly be reporting back regarding my sewing progress. I have two projects in mind that I think will be good for a beginner like myself. (Sixth grade sewing club feels mighty far away right now.) Do you sew? Do you have any patterns that you’ve found especially satisfying and fun? Please send them my way!

Will you be joining me in your own rain project?

Cozy Fall Favorites

I’ve always said that fall is my favorite season, but it wasn’t until this past week that I pinpointed exactly¬†why it’s my favorite season. For starters, I love the transition from long, hot summer days to slightly shorter, crisper fall days. Trees begin to change, and these vibrant colors are some of the best out there.

Fall is the season where we start our migration back into our homes after going out and being explorers for the summer–explorers in our gardens, towns, cities. We quiet ourselves as we embrace this change, and learn from nature just how beautiful a time of transition can really be. We indulge in simple pleasures, and refocus on what’s important.¬†It’s our chance to turn over a new leaf.

When I write posts like this one, I tend to¬†look outward for inspiration. This week, I thought I’d look inward. Scissors & Sage is two years old now, and I have a lot of really fun blog posts to show for my¬†time here! Below, you’ll find a few¬†of my favorite projects and recipes that embrace fall in all its cozy glory.

Nothing says fall like this trio: hot tea, ceramic mug, and knit coaster. Coziness is just oozing out of this picture! Learn to knit this coaster here. It’d make a beautiful gift set.

Looking to knit something wearable, instead? This cowl is a quick project with big results–perfect for fall layering.

It’s now okay to turn the oven back on. Wahoo! These mile-high coffee cake muffins are a real crowd-pleaser, and will provide a nice transition back into baking again.

Snuggle up with one of these homemade soy wax candles. They’re perfect for any room of your home.

Believe it or not, Halloween season is almost upon us. These spooky chocolate cake doughnuts are festive and pretty tasty.

It’s a perfect time to check-in with your recipe box. Mine, from Rifle Paper Co.,¬†fills me with a lot of joy. Start simmering those stews, people!

Let fall colors guide your crafting this season. These DIY leaf flowers make a beautiful centerpiece, and are a definite conversation-starter.

Felt is a great crafting material for cooler months. I made this two-pocket cell phone sleeve using gift packaging from Madewell!

There are a few more things on my mind this week:

  1. I recently discovered a company called Parachute. Have you heard of them? Their website and blog focuses on all-things sleeping. From selling luxurious bedding¬†hand-crafted in Italy, to blogging about how to choose the right pillow, they’ve got it covered. And they cover it well.
  2. It’s time to try¬†something new. I’ve got a few new crafting techniques and projects¬†I’m interested in testing out¬†soon, and I’m really excited about them. Our new apartment is the perfect blank canvas! Are you hoping to start a certain project soon?
  3. I don’t usually drink caffeine, but settling into a good book or knitting project with a chai tea latte sounds pretty excellent right about now. My favorite is¬†Oregon Chai’s powdered mix.

What are you doing to get ready for fall? Are you excited, or are you already missing summer?