Friday, December 19, 2008

Brownies and Bookmarks

Jeffrey's best friend, D, requested I bring brownies to the class Christmas party and because he's such a good kiddie and I'm thrilled that Jeffrey HAS a best friend, I was happy to oblige. Upon asking, I found out that he didn't want frosting, nuts, or chips anywhere near those puppies (he's an Aspie, too, so I'm pretty sure it was a texture thing), so I went looking for a kick-ass recipe that didn't have any extras. After many stops and starts, I found this one at (which is an AWESOME site, btw), and decided to give it a whirl.

I pressured my mother several months ago into making homemade brownies and the results were pretty dismal--through no fault of her own, I'm sure, as she's quite the whiz at baking. So I was a tad nervous about the whole thing, particularly with the bit that called on me to heat the butter and sugar together. I'd never heard tale of such a thing in a baking recipe.

However, these guys wound up being lovely, lucious chunks o' chocolate heaven: rich and dense and gooey and yummy. My mind is reeling with all the possibilities of this recipe: adding chips of all kinds and nuts and marshmallows and caramel and peppermint bits and...Sigh.

The only difficulty I experienced was cutting them. I think they weren't cool enough yet, so I had some stickage on my knife. Wiping it off and giving it a spritz of Pam after every few strokes kept this to a minimum, but my brownies didn't have nice, clean edges. (Not that the six-year-olds cared.)

(As a side note, for some reason, getting a picture of these brownies was way harder than it should have been. I don't know if it was the weird light today or if they were just so dark with chocolate heavenliness, but I never could figure out how to capture their fudgy perfection. Not even when I crawled on the floor or stood outside in the middle of my yard. The picture below comes closest.)

Having finished the brownies, I moved on to the teachers' presents. Jeffrey's teachers have gone above and beyond the call of duty this year and I wanted to do something nice for them. The scented coffee rests didn't pan out because I ran out of time, so I whipped up some bookmarks based on something I've seen all over the internet, most recently here. (Anna Maria Horner is like a fairy godmother of groovy design stuff.)

I didn't do it exactly like AMH (and others) suggested, mainly because my Hell-Mart doesn't carry double-sided heavy fusible and also because I wanted to fiddle with the idea of a string of beads attached to each bookmark.

First, I gathered my fabrics. I chose the tropical rayon print (leftover from our shower curtain, which is starting to make me insane) for Jeffrey's parapro, since she said on Monday that she hated cold weather. The red fan print (sturdy, well-made cotton) was for his classroom teacher, since she's kinda funky and eclectic. The green calico was for the special ed teacher. I have tons and tons of this left over from my teaching days when it covered a bulletin board showcasing British Romantic poets. I'm thinking matching skirts for River and I in the spring for the rest of it (and possibly skirts for my sil and mother and all of the women in my neighborhood. There is a LOT of fabric left.) Anyway, it's a pretty print, and I don't know the spec ed teacher as well as the others, so I went with it.

I like a big bookmark, so I used a business sized envelope for my template:

Then, using a neutral cream thread, I sewed the suckers together. The rayon was, as rayon often is, a pain in the butt as it slipped and slid and wallowed all over the place. The cottons were lovely, although I did press all of them before adding the fusible just because I didn't like them looking crinkly after the turning right-side-out part.

Slipping the fusible in was easy with all of them except the fan print, which required lots of cursing and poking with various poky objects until it lay flat. *Quick aside here to say I did this whole project--and soothed River when she woke up with a bad dream at nap time--in about an hour, so I was flying trying to get them done. I would be much less curse-y and sweaty if I did this project again.*

Tucked the ends in, ironed each bookmark, sewed the ends shut while doing a topstitch all the way round, catching a coordinating hemp string just above the knot tied in the end. In retropect, I wish I'd used thread that matched the string to do the topstitching, but, again, I was in a curse-y, sweating hurry. Next time I do this project, I think I'll use a buttonhole or maybe even an eyelet hole to slip my string through. And I'll topstitch much closer to the outer edge.

Threaded matching beads onto the string, knotted the beads in place, and I was done. They aren't perfect, but I'm pleased with the way they turned out. I slipped them into envelopes with a gift certificate to a local new and used bookstore and a package of chai tea. The teachers seemed pleased with them, and it made me feel good to give them something personalized. Goodness knows they deserve it after being so patient and hard-working with the bug for four months.

I'll take a break from the crafting tomorrow (Santa shopping!), but will be back to it on Sunday when we have our huge cookie bake with Will's family. I've decided to spend the Christmas moolah from my grandparents on cookie cutters and decorating tips.

Ooh, and maybe some of that stuff that makes frosting shiny.

Is it normal to get this excited about baking?


Anonymous said...

That is a brownie to be proud of. So glad my dear boy has a best friend. It has made my day to read that!

Heather said...

Chocolate is hard to photograph. The camera either picks up the wrong tones or it looks burnt. Chocolate and beef are my most dreaded subjects. Thanks for the link love!