Monday, July 18, 2011

Twill Tape for Money

Financial Investment: $$ ($10 - $25)
Emotional Investment: K (Up the Zoloft)
Worth the Investment: = (Meh)

I have the cutest picture ever, thanks to the best photographer I know.  Most of my readers know who she is (Kara May) – she’s my cousin and she’s AMAZING.  Check out some of her work at

For a baby gift, Kara was gracious enough to photograph Peaches (here's a little peek at some of the pictures she took) and to include some prints.  I thought, what better way to honor the picture than to make an outstanding frame for it (or rather, dress up a frame with a cool mat).  Well, it was a thought. 

The Twill Tape Mat project by Martha Stewart looks really cool… basically, you glue twill tape in a geometric pattern around a mat and it really accentuates the picture.  Problem is, if you like things to look good close up, then this probably isn’t a great project for you. 

I did it two different ways since I was unhappy with the first result and I’m still not satisfied (and really grouchy about having to go back to the hell they refer to as IKEA and snaking my way through that monstrosity of a store to get a new picture frame). 

Because Martha has such crappy vague directions, I’ve decided to help everyone out and try to do it step-by-step.  Notice that I stated “try,” so be gentle in your comments.

1.      Pick a photo that will fit into the inside of a matted frame (you can create your own mat, but that’s a different project for a different day).  I chose the Fjallsta frame from IKEA… $12.99 and it fits my d├ęcor

2.      Martha doesn’t even include a template or anything, but suggests that you photocopy the page in the book of the examples and to tinker around with them.  Thanks.  Super helpful.  Instead, I got my quilting ruler out, a pencil and lightly penciled in lines around the mat.  It’s really important that the measurements remain consistent.  The picture below is of a different frame/mat that I was going to test it out on, but you get the picture (no pun intended).

If you look really closely, you can see the pencil lines for the design

3.      Martha’s instructions state to use craft glue and to glue the twill tape around piece by piece.  I found that the glue wasn’t strong enough for the twill tape and didn’t really stick, plus it’s super awesome when you paint the glue over a pencil line and it won’t erase.  On my second attempt, I switched to a hot glue gun and while I may have a few burns on my fingers, it was easier to cleanup and looks better. 

a.      To do the corners, you fold the ribbon at a 45 degree angle (and p.s. Martha, one of your designs uses more like a 30 degree angle so you might not want to state that EVERY angle will be 45 degrees.  I’m just sayin’.)

4.      Trim the last piece and try to get it as flush as possible to the area that you’re gluing it to.

5.      Step back and refrain from throwing the frame against a wall.
Take one

Take two

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Firework Me into a Frenzy Cookies

Oh Martha.  I saw these on the cover of your Living magazine and then watched you make them on the Today show.  It’s not part of my whole ‘Martha and Reid’ endeavor, but let’s be honest.  I have been a little behind in blogging and if I did one of your projects, whether it be in the book I’m detailing, or in your magazine, I’m going to write about it.

Once again, I pose the question, “Why do you make things look so easy when they’re not?”  Why don’t you tell the public that they should make sure that no one is in the house when they attempt your projects so that there aren’t any objects being flung at innocent people?  Or curse words that young ones should not hear? 

Yes, the end product looks nice.  Yes, they actually taste okay too (which is a first for me… I once made her ricotta chocolate mousse and let’s just say I have an awesome gag reflex).  And yes, you do state that the cookies alone take three total hours.  But you don’t include the fact that it takes at least an hour and a half to decorate them!

Also, you might want to make sure that your television commentary is in line with what is in your magazine.  I went grocery shopping based on the ingredients for the Royal Icing that you discussed on the Today show.  In your words (I’m paraphrasing), “It’s very simple.  All you need is powdered sugar, water and some egg whites.” 

You might want to check that recipe again because the one in your magazine calls for Meringue Powder which is not what I would call a “staple” ingredient.  Thankfully, you note that it can be found at  How convenient.  Yes, let me just order it along with some other specialty items you call for and cross my fingers that they’ll magically appear before I actually need them. 

No worries, Martha!  I took matters into my own hands and used the app for my iPad and got a Royal Icing recipe which called for Cream of Tartar since I had that in my spice cabinet.  I also used regular old food coloring to dye it instead of your fancy schmancy one; and yes, the red icing tasted like straight chemicals, but what’s your point? 

So how does a real person complete this project?  Well, you grunt over the million step sugar cookie process (see the directions here), or realize that any sugar cookie recipe will do.  You then make some royal icing (recipe here) and divide it into three bowls; one for white (the largest amount reserved), then one for red and blue.  You then use about 80 drops of dye for the red and maybe 30 for the blue and you get colors that somewhat resemble the ones on the cover of Living. 

Next you use an angled spatula and slap on the white icing instead of “flooding” the cookies that Martha calls for (in the interest of sanity and time).  Then you immediately pipe a red or blue dot in the center of the cookie and follow it with concentric circles in red or blue.  Martha states that you can use pastry bags or specialty squeeze bottles – I obviously took the easier (read: cheaper) route and used pastry bags).  Finally, you take a toothpick and drag it from the center of the cookie outwards and continue around the cookie. 

So here they are.  Do they look as good as Martha’s?  Probably not.  Oh well.