Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stamp Champ

It's cold and rainy. I haven't taken my camera outside in a week, or felt very inspired to take any photos at all. Instead, I have a whole host of indoor hobbies that keep me occupied when I can't bear the thought of stepping outside into the gloom. This week, I've turned to one of my inside pleasures...rubber stamping.

Does anyone remember this classic scene?


Well, around here, it's MARTHA, MARTHA, MARTHA...Stewart, that is!

I've got more enthusiasm than talent, unfortunately, but I still have fun with my little projects. I've collected some really fun stamps.

Here's a sampling of some of my vintage-style odds and ends stamps.

I have lots of animal stamps...some silly, like this frog, and others that are more classic, like this ewe and her lambs, or a goose and her goslings.

I have several sea-inspired stamps...

...and of course several nature-themed ones.

Todd bought me these pretty butterfly stamps for Christmas. I've been stamping them onto the white paper I use on our outgoing personal packages.

I bought these vintage-look nature stamps recently...

...and I've picked up my fair share of actual vintage stamps from the 40s and 50s, so stiff and beaten down with use that sometimes it's difficult to get a good impression with them...but I love them nonetheless.

I've got 2 1/2 alphabets and hoping to add to that number soon!

I've got several "border" stamps that allow room for stamping within, too.

My stamps are currently a disorganized mess on my tiny craft table, but in our next house I hope to have a craft room, where I can organize my yarns, stamps, ribbons, wrapping papers, model kits, sewing and embroidery supplies, and photo albums and equipment. I'm really looking forward to it! Until that time comes, I'll continue to rummage through my baskets, continually surprised by stamps I'd forgotten about. I don't currently scrapbook, but use the stamps to make cards.

A "bee"-lated birthday wish...

A card to a "deer" friend...

...and lots of encouraging, pun-filled cards for my husband.

I used rubber stamps for our Christmas cards this year...

...and use them to make quick gift tags for last-minute gifts. Someone got a spicy cinnamon loaf this week!

My poor sock yarn blanket lies ignored while I work on my next pair of socks. These are called "The Gardener" and it's a wonderful pattern, but difficult. They're only my second pair of toe-up socks. I've had to learn lots of new techniques - converting a Magic Loop (2 needle) pattern to 5 needles, working from 2 different charts at the same time, and Cat Bordhi's "riverbed construction" method for the heel.

You can see the "V" in the sole of the sock. It's supposed to create a better-fitting sock. Yes, it took a little bit of math to get this nice shape!

The heel has a little peaked overhang like a gnome's hat. This might be an error, but I'm going to pretend like it's part of the sock's charm.

It looks a bit shriveled and narrow here, but I can assure you that the pattern will really POP once I block this out! I can't wait to see it!

I've been baking, baking, baking this past week. Four loaves of sourdough, a batch of baguettes, two loaves of cinnamon swirl bread, a giant batch of chocolate chip cookies for game night with the girls, and this charming coffee cake...and that doesn't count the meals I've cranked out as I've forced myself to go deeper into my cookbooks!

Listen, you can't go wrong with coffee cake, so that's what I made for a get-together with some new friends. I think it went over really well, and was delicious reheated the next day! Again, this came from the Smitten Kitchen website, which I'm, well, completely smitten with.

Monkey Bread
Makes one cake
From Smitten Kitchen

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (2 softened, 2 melted)
1 cup milk, warm
1/3 cup water, warm
1/4 cup white sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
3 1/4 cup white flour
2 teaspoons salt

Sugar Coating
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Cream Cheese Glaze
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

To make the dough, incorporate milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast. With mixer, mix on medium speed for 6 or 7 minutes. Form into a round ball and let rise in a warm location for about an hour.

When you've got a nice rise, turn out your dough onto a floured surface and pat into an 8 inch square. Cut into 64 pieces.

Quickly roll each piece into a little ball. They don't have to be precise, and they won't want to hold together! That's all right.

Here's where the fun begins! Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in one bowl and place your melted butter in another bowl. Dip each ball into the butter, then the cinnamon/sugar mixture, and place them in a greased bundt pan, staggering the seams.

Continue to build layers until you've used up all 64 balls. It doesn't take that long, I promise!

Cover and let the dough rise again, in a warm place, for 50 - 70 minutes. Deb of Smitten Kitchen suggests using a warm oven for both rises.

Doesn't it look good? I can tell you that the kitchen smelled wonderful by this point...and I hadn't even turned on the oven yet!

Now it's time to turn on your oven! Preheat to 350 degrees and bake for 25 - 30 minutes. Turn bread out and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

Can you see how each little ball has adhered to its neighbor with a sticky cinnamon/sugar bond? YUM!

While it's cooling, make your glaze by combining all glaze ingredients and adding extra milk or powdered sugar to achieve the desired thickness. I love it!

Let's just say that it's more delicious than it looks here, in a dreaded nighttime photo. The next time you get together with friends or need to bring a dish to some gathering, I highly suggest this relatively quick and easy dessert.



  1. Jaime,
    You have some really nice stamps. I really like how you include some of them in a note. Very creative! The bread looks so yummy... now I'm hungry! Thanks for the recipe. The knit socks look like they will be so cozy! Your blog is awesome.