Simple Tribal Needlepoint Pattern

Do you ever start doodling on a piece of paper only to realize a few minutes into your absentminded drawing that you’ve actually created something pretty? Don’t worry, me neither. Luckily for all my readers though, some random stitch practice on my phone case turned into a pretty awesome tribal pattern so I’m sharing it below!

It’s been awhile since I gave y’all an update on my needlepoint projects but truth be told, that has more to do with my lack of stitch time than anything else.

One project I did make time for though this past month is my phone case. If you’ve interacted with me lately and I tried to casually throw my phone in your face to show off my new case, I’m sorry. Actually, I’m not. I rarely get to stitch projects for myself so now that I have one, I’m going to show it off.

Onyx loves the phone case too. Or maybe just the thread. 

Onyx loves the phone case too. Or maybe just the thread. 

Much like starting with a beginner’s kit, stitching a phone case is actually pretty simple. It’s also smaller than other potential projects, like pillows and belts, so it won’t take up your whole year.

I bought this phone canvas on Etsy and while I started intending to use the threads provided by the kit, I quickly ran out and had to buy more. As such, if you plan to branch out and do your own pattern, which I highly recommend you do, invest in your own thread from the start so you can easily get more if needed.

Despite the initially (potentially) overwhelming appearance of my case thanks to multiple shapes and colors, the pattern itself is deceivingly simple. Let me break it down for you.

Three Stitches

This tribal pattern looks pretty but the truth of the matter is that it uses three very basic (and sturdy stitches). My phone (and thus its case) are an extension of my arm. That means that I’m constantly fiddling with it. If I’m not fiddling with it, it’s being jumbled about in my bag or coat pocket (don’t get any ideas metro pick pockets) so it needed some sturdy stitches to hold up.

  • Continental (1-4) - about as basic as they come. The continental stitch is a staple of this project. If you have the room, feel free to swap it out for basketweave. Same external look, stronger on the backend.
  • Giant Knitting (A-F) - While not quite as giant as a full giant knitting, this stitch is somewhere between a larger continental and a giant knitting.
  • Reversed Mosaic (a-j) - See how the stitches on this one reverse throughout the length of each layer? Yup, you guessed it, that’s where the name comes from.

Thread

I worked with 12 ply stranded cotton thread in shades of purple, green and yellow. I worked with 3 threads at a time but for thicker coverage you should consider working with four. This was a bit of a change for me since I’m used to working with much thicker merino wool while making belts. Did I love getting tangled pulling apart the threads? No. But practice makes perfect so I’ll confess that I was getting better by the end of the project.

Follow the Grid

The stitches themselves are all pretty basic so it’s just a matter of following the pattern. Start at the bottom and work your way up, one layer at a time.

So, now that you have all that you need you are ready to get stitching! Make sure to drop me a note if you give this a try or want to share some of your favorite stitches!

 

Festive and Gooey Peppermint Bark Brownies

I'm not sure what it is about the holidays but every year when they roll around, I find myself craving peppermint. Peppermint truffles? Yes please. Peppermint hot chocolate? Hells yeah. Peppermint bark? Gimme gimme.

I tend to be somewhere warm for Christmas every year so it's in the weeks leading up to vacation that I tend to bake up a storm. Not that I don't love baking in warm weather. It's just that if I only have 4 days of sunshine and beach, I'd rather use them outside with my family rather than milling about the kitchen by myself.  

I was tasked with supplying dessert for a holiday gathering last weekend and all I could think was: time to start baking with peppermint again. My candy cane chocolate truffles are always a hit around this time of year but I've been on a brownie kick lately so i decided to go beyond the tried and true truffles.

Enter the peppermint bark brownie.

Okay, so if I’m being totally honest with myself (and you), I didn’t just stumble upon the idea of making brownies. Rather, I’ve been sneaking to Rare Sweets, my local bakery/coffee shop/afternoon snack hideaway near work, to get a square of their ultra gooey and rich brownies multiple times per week in the last month. As soon as they start a rewards program I’ll be golden but until then, I’m looking for ways to not spend my entire paycheck on baked goods I could be making at home.

And so, in an effort to save money (kind of), quench my peppermint craving (a real thing) and supply baked goods to my friends (a must), I created the peppermint bark brownie!

A crispy chocolate top, gooey brownie inside and refreshing bites of peppermint bark in the middle make this my new go-to holiday treat. Seriously. I’ve made two batches of it in the past 6 days.

Do you have a favorite treat to make around the holidays? Tell me so I can make it too!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (62g) flour
  • ⅓ cup (42g) cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 16 Ghirardelli dark chocolate peppermint bark squares
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar (optional for topping)

 

Recipe (adapted from an Allrecipes.com recipe)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8 x 8 square baking dish.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the butter and the sugar until combined and starting to get lighter. Mix in the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
  • Once fully combined, spoon half the batter into the baking dish and use a rubber spatula to spread it out to fully cover the bottom of the dish. Lay out the peppermint bark squares, four across in each direction. Top with the remaining batter and use the spatula to spread it out once again.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the brownies comes out clean. Let cool completely before topping with powdered sugar and serving.

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches

It’s amazing how something simple like adding a yummy filling between two cookies can elevate an already delicious cooking into a truly delectable treat.

December is turning into my busiest month of the year. Between work, hobbies, travel and volunteering, sleep is taking a backseat. I’ve never been much for naps, despite being engaged to the ultimate napper but on Sunday, I fell asleep in the middle of the afternoon for a solid three hours! I woke up thinking I had the whole day ahead of me only to discover it was dark outside. Whoops.

Luckily for me I had whipped up a batch of these chocolate peanut butter cookie sandwiches on Saturday as a wedding pregame snack. After a late night of celebrating with college friends, travel back to DC and a long nap, I was so happy to have one of these waiting for me.

The chocolate peanut butter spread used in this recipe has become a staple in my home of late. It’s Reese’s answer to Nutella’s popularity and while the texture is much coarser, I love the combination of sweet chocolate and nutty peanut butter. It works just as well paired with apple slices or in a buttercream sandwiched between two peanut butter cookies!

peanut butter cookies-4.jpg

Cookie Ingredients (Cookie recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar + ½ cup extra for rolling dough in
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buttercream Ingredients

  • 1 cup Reese's chocolate peanut butter spread
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups of confectioners sugar
  • 4-5 tablespoons of heavy cream

Recipe

  • Start with the cookies. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar and 1 cup of granulated sugar together until light. Mix in the eggs, one at a time until fully combine. Mix in the vanilla and peanut butter.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Slowly mix into the wet ingredients. Chill dough for 2-4 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Prepare two baking sheets with non-stick mats. Roll dough into tablespoon-sized balls and roll into left over granulated sugar. Place on baking sheet and use a fork to create pattern. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Place one baking sheet in the fridge until ready to bake and the other in the oven. Bake for 11 minutes.
  • While cookies are cooling, prepare buttercream filling. Combine the butter and chocolate peanut butter spread in a stand mixer and cream together. In batches, add in the confectioners sugar until completely incorporated. Pour in the tablespoons of heavy cream one at a time until desired consistency is reached. Scoop buttercream filling into an icing bag with a star piping tip. Pipe onto one cookie and top with another.

 

Peppermint Oreo Ice Cream and Magic Shell Sauce

A few weeks back, I warned you all that I would be taking a walk down memory lane (the blog kind) and revisiting some old posts to update recipes and photos.

When I ended up not being able to bring Onyx with me to Colin’s family for Thanksgiving, I was so grateful that one of my coworkers volunteered to watch him. I was so grateful in fact that I knew there would only be one way to thank her - with ice cream! And not just any ice cream. It had to be a batch of my favorite peppermint Oreo ice cream, with a little magic shell sauce to top it off of course.

Peppermint Oreo ice cream was one of my first recipes on Sweet Sundays.

*pause for nostalgic effect*

I’ve come a long way since May 2015 but one thing that hasn’t changed is this recipe! Some of my recipes are works in progress while others are tried, true and foolproof. This one is the latter.

In re-reading my old post, I’m reminded of how scientific I used to be in my writing. While I used to wax on about the reasoning behind ingredients and the arguments around something controversial like eggs (*gasp*), I tend to use this space to talk about how my food is tying into my emotional state and why baking on theme for every single cultural event/holiday is a necessity. I’m not ready to give that up entirely but I’d love to get back in the habit of explaining the why behind what I’m doing.

Another go-to recipe in my repertoire is my homemade chocolate magic shell sauce. A great hostess gift, this sauce takes minutes to make and even less time to harden when poured on ice cream. Yes, I do stare at it and watch it harden because this sauce is the closest I’ll get to real magic. At least until I make it to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I dare you to make this and not be mesmerized by the process.

While  these older recipes weren’t in need of an upgrade, looking over my old photos has me relieved at how far I’ve come. Not only is my gear more conducive to food photography but I’ve gotten better at editing photos and staging the shots as well.

One thing I haven’t improved upon however is my ability to put away the food after photographing rather than scarfing it down. If anyone has advice on how to introduce some self control into my routine, I’m all ears.

Do you have some tried and true recipes you love to make over and over again? I want to try them too!

Ice Cream Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 cups of Oreos (about one row of Oreos in a three-row pack)

Ice Cream Recipe

  • Whisk egg yolks and sugar together vigorously for about 1 - 2 minutes
  • Add the milk followed by the heavy cream to a saucer over medium heat until the temperature reaches 160 degrees fahrenheit
  • Slowly pour cream mixture into egg and sugar mixture, whisking constantly
  • Add batter back to saucer over medium heat until internal temperature returns to 160 degrees fahrenheit
  • Once desired temperature is achieved, remove from heat and mix in peppermint extract
  • Place batter in freezer to completely cool before adding to the ice cream machine, 4 - 5 hours (or overnight)
  • Put batter in ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions
  • While the ice cream batter is in the machine, chop up the Oreos to the size of your liking
  • A few minutes before the ice cream is ready, add in the Oreos

Magic Shell Sauce Ingredients

  • 8 Ounces semi sweet chocolate
  • 6 Ounces refined coconut oil (about ¾ cups)

Magic Shell Sauce Recipe

  • Combine both ingredients in a double boiler and stir constantly while melting
  • Once completely melted, remove from heat
  • Serve over ice cream (or fruit)
  • Store in an airtight glass container