December Crafternoon

December’s Crafternoon was a big one! All in all my crafternoon bunch is about 25 people who I’ve met at various times in my life. Lovely localish people who may not all like crafting, but don’t seem to mind gathering together for company & food. Because the crafternoons take place at different days each month not everyone can usually come and this is really good space wise. December’s crafternoon however was set for 17 people and that is quite the crowd for my older house where the rooms are on the smaller side, and I don’t have big open spaces. Seating was a challenge this time and I opted for a cafe type look with four smaller tables rather then one long one. It is still a challenge space wise, everyone is close together and getting up and walking around isn’t the easiest. But everyone is a really good sport about it. I just don’t know what I will do if one month magically everyone can come…I try not to think about it.
I have had a few people expressing interest in crafternoons and I just want to encourage everyone to start their own, it is so much fun, and I think you’ll find that you don’t have to have “crafty” friends for it to work. The focus is never on making something, or having something turn out amazing. Instead it’s about an excuse to gather, share some food, and not have that awkward stare at one another bit (especially for people meeting for the first time) because everyone is busy with their hands. This some how just helps break the ice and before you know it everyone is chatting and having a great time. If you do host one and worry about cost, you can always do potlucks, and ask every to contribute supplies.
December’s crafternoon is extra fun because of all the holiday decorating I get to do. Finally got to break out my egg nog set I found this Summer, and all my Christmas glass ware.
This was also a pie-party like last December where I asked everyone to bring a pie..sweet or savory their choice. I made a tomato corn pie, and Milk Bar’s cinnamon bun pie (although I did change the streusel I didn’t like the oats in it) We also do a white elephant gift swap, which meant a huge pile of presents!

Once everyone started arriving with the pies it was crazy, so I couldn’t get photos of all of them. However Molly was one of the first people there and she brought a cannoli pie, a spinach pie, and her husband made a chocolate marshmallow cheesecake for her to bring! Lets also talk about the fact that he got up extra early the morning of the party to create the little tiny marshmallow snowmen for the top!! It was pretty amazing.

This month we decorated wreaths in whatever style we wanted. I picked up as many wreaths as I could find at thrift shops really cheaply and many people brought their own too. Then I just asked that people bring supplies for decorating. It is always so great to see all the different styles of wreaths that everyone came up with.
I’d love to have a link if you already do a crafty-like gathering, and I am sure there are tons of other crafternoons going on out in the world, so please leave me a link if you do one too.

October’s Crafternoon

Yesterday was the October Crafternoon, which was a favorite of mine because I love all things Halloween. Fourteen lovely ladies (and one gent) came out for a crafternoon with veggie “beef” stew, bread, and apple cider donuts….but that’s not all…

Tasha made the beautiful Halloween cupcakes & funfetti halloween cookies. Jessee made the jack-o-lantern macarons (faces drawn on with the edible food writers, perfect!) Meri made a pumpkin dip for gingersnaps, Katie made pumpkin muffins (which I ate one of before the party so that’s why there is not one on my plate), Amanda brought homemade cider, and Page made the “bloody” coconut balls. It was quite the Halloween feast! Then Lindsey & Molly each made Halloween treat bags for everyone which was so sweet, even more Halloween treats!

The project this month was to create little Halloween characters, using a combination of spun cotton, paper faces, gourds, and all sorts of other bric-a-brac I’ve been gathering up for the event. The tables were an explosion of random items that everyone turned into some of the cutest little Halloween characters I have ever seen. Of course not all of my photos turned out very well, so visit the blogs I linked above to see if anybody posts their cute creations. I’ll have a little DIY on Tuesday so you can make some of the paper faced ones for yourself. The ones I made can be seen here.

We’ve also started to do white elephant gift swaps, and that has been lots of fun! We say the gifts are to be handmade or thrifted (or a combination of the two) and range in price from $5-10. The first time we played (last month) we had people open the gifts as they picked them, and then people could steal a gift up to two times. This time we tried something different where we wait and open the gifts at the end (so you are not sure what you might be stealing). They are both fun…do you do white elephant swaps? and if so how do you play?
Costumes were welcomed, but only two lovelies dressed up. I wore my Halloween-best wearing orange and black tights, a black dress, and donning a crazy little hat I have. I got it at a thrift shop years ago, but it used to have an elastic band to keep it on your head and I never liked that. I changed it to a headband and it worked much better. I removed the feather that came on it and added ribbon and a blackbird. I also wore this fantastic Halloween corsage made by meaicp. I love it so much!
November is a busy month for me, so the next crafternoon is going to be in December, but I’m excited as Christmas is another favorite of mine!

September Crafternoon

Can you believe it is already time for another Crafternoon? I feel like the time since my last one just flew by. This month the date I picked for the crafternoon fell on the first day of fall, perfect for making felted acorns! Katie of The Mossy Cottage does indeed live in a mossy cottage in the woods and was kind enough to bring hundreds of acorn caps for the craft (psst that’s Katie’s new blog isn’t it lovely!!).

I ordered some wool roving in fall colors& grabbed a few small batts that I had stashed in the attic with my spinning supplies, but even with eight people we had more then enough wool to each make as many acorns as we wanted, and I still had quite a bit leftover.

Making the acorns is super easy, all you need is:
wool roving in fall colors
-acorn caps
-a small bowl with just a tiny drop of dishwashing liquid and warm water
1. Just grab a very small amount of wool, dip it in the water just to dampen and begin to roll it over between your hands as if you were making a ball with clay. You don’t have to push hard or squeeze the wool. Keep going and the ball will felt and smooth out around the outside.
2. The great thing about acorn caps is they come in so many sizes that you can test your ball in different ones until you find just the perfect fit.
3. Allow your balls to dry out (they dry pretty quickly) and then glue into caps. We used either hot glue or aleene’s tacky glue and both worked great.
For food I decided to give soup a break and make some lasagna. Perfect for making a day ahead of time and then just popping into the oven to bake right before the party. I made a classic cheese lasagna (but using low fat ricotta and part skim mozzarella) and a butternut squash and sage lasagna that I have been wanted to make for months. Again I also used the lower fat/part skim cheese, almond milk in place of the heavy cream, and veggie stock in place of the chicken stock…but I think it turned out wonderfully and I would make both recipes again. I also served salad with some quick dressings Katie and I made before the party, and bread.
For dessert I went a little bit crazy, the party was the day before my birthday so I wanted it to be a extra special birthday cake. I made a Black Joe Cake with Salted Caramel Filling & Mocha Mascarpone Frosting and followed the recipe almost exactly. The only thing I did differently was make it a 3 layer cake (by dividing the batter into 3 cake pans) and I didn’t cut the circles of parchment paper for inside the pans, and I regretted that. My two bottom layers stuck and I had to sort of salvage them back into place. I ended up putting the top layer into the freezer until I could pop it out of the pan. So for goodness sake, cut the circles!! The cake was really yummy, but be careful you’ll want to sample it the whole time…a little bite of filling, a crumb or two of the stuck cake, a taste or three of the frosting. It’s really good! And I found the caramel, fleur de sel, and espresso powder all at Wegmans.

The only new thing we did this month was a White Elephant Gift Exchange, and it was so fun! I think we will try to do it every month. I asked everyone to bring a gift either thrifted or handmade between $5-10, and everyone brought such great stuff! I had found a little pyrex dish with a lid so I filled it with some candy and included a potholder. I got a handmade framed papercut by Sean with a owl he thrifted. Now I’m looking forward to next month’s Halloween themed Craftnoon, and can’t wait to sit down and plan the menu for that.