Hi, I'm Torrey. Welcome to Left Field, where creativity runs amok and imagination is ALWAYS more important than knowledge. Shoes are not allowed but ties are optional. This is a repository of snippets from my life out here in Left Field. One never knows what shiny bits of creativity will be found here... cards, scrapbook layouts, photography, poetry, recipes, ponderings, rantings and musings. It could be anything! Life in Left Field is always changing, always real, always ...interesting.

June 21, 2015

Soul Food

Hidy Ho, crafty peeps!

The nurse in me knows I should be promoting healthful eating -- some Paleo/Gluten-Free/Vegan/Fat-Free concoction that will add years to your life, revitalize your skin, and taste amazing all at the same time. But, the truth is, we all know that type of food is a fantasy...a unicorn...and in reality, if it DID exist, it would probably cause cancer and taste pretty much like cardboard.

However, that being said, the artist and muse in me are here today... to tempt you.

Yeah, I'm bad. But in a good way.

Today, I'm here to share with you something that is mana for the spirit..."soul food", as it were.

...the holy grail of chocolate chip cookies.

But, if it makes you feel better...we'll call them

"Free-Range Chocolatey Chip Cookies"

Yeah, that sounds...better.

For years, I've been searching for the best recipe for these little parcels of joy. I've found countless recipes that claim to be "the best"...but, in reality, fail miserably for one reason or another. I've even tried altering these recipes...a tweak here, a twist there...to no avail.

But then, when I quit searching, I found this elusive treasure. (Isn't that how it always seems to work? You ultimately find what you're looking for when you quit looking for it.)

This recipe produces (in my opinion) the very best chocolate chip cookies out there. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, buttery, gooey, yummy bits of heaven. They store well, and when warmed up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds...taste fresh out of the oven even days later. And, they turn out this great EVERY  SINGLE  TIME I make them.

There are a couple of hints I've learned along my cookie journey that I'll share with you in the course of explaining the recipe. These may be considered basic baking hints...but they are ESSENTIAL for successful baking.


Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 2 tsp. HOT water
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1- 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 2 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C) 
  2. In large bowl, cream butter and sugars together. 
  3. Add eggs (one at a time) to butter mixture. Stir until smooth after each egg. 
  4. Add vanilla, blend well. 
  5. Add dissolved baking soda solution, blend well.  
  6. In separate bowl, whisk flour and salt together. 
  7. Add flour mix, 1 cup at a time, to butter mixture. Blend thoroughly after each addition. 
  8. Add chocolate chips, stir gently until evenly distributed throughout dough.
  9. Add nuts IF DESIRED. 
  10. Place scoops of dough (~ 1 Tablespoon) onto ungreased cookie sheet (or on Sil-pat lined sheet) Space about 2 inches apart. 
  11. Bake for 8-10 minutes. About half-way through baking time (at about 4 minutes) remove pan from oven and turn pan around (front to back). Continue baking for remaining 4-5 minutes more until edges are golden brown but center is PALE and soft (but not shiny anymore). 
  12. Cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack until completely cool.

Cookie Baking Tips, Tricks, and Hints:
  1. ALWAYS mix wet ingredients together in one bowl, and WHISK dry ingredients together in another bowl (to make sure all dry ingredients are well blended)...then add the dry to the wet, 1/3 at a time, mixing THOROUGHLY after each addition.
  2. NEVER use melted butter. It will make your cookies greasy and flat. Yuck
  3. Use a small "ice cream" scoop (1 Tablespoon size)--15cc size for uniform cookies. For larger cookies use a 1 oz. sized (2 Tablespoon)-- 30cc size scoop. Scrape them off flat on the side of the bowl. Scoops are available at most cooking supply stores...or even at big box stores like Target or Walmart.
  4. Unless you have a convection oven, turn your baking pans half-way around at the mid point of their cooking time to ensure even cooking. 
  5. Store cookies in air-tight plastic container for up to a week or so. (Yeah, like they'll last that long)
  6. REALLY IMPORTANT: Take your cookies out of the oven BEFORE they really look "done". You want to remove them when their centers are still PALE. As soon as their surface is NOT SHINY anymore...they come OUT. This was a hard thing for me to learn. But, trust me, if you leave them in until they're golden brown all over...you've just killed them.
  7. Microwave cookies for 10-15 seconds before eating to bring them back to their just-baked-out-of-the-oven, wonderful state.
  8. Remember, if you break a cookie...all the calories spill out. So, break your cookie in half before eating. You're welcome. 
 Somewhere inside me is a skinny girl screaming to get out...but I can usually shut her up with cookies.
Bon appetit, y'all!

  


 




June 13, 2015

The Card Parade Continues

Hidy Ho, crafty peeps!

Well, the parade o' cards is starting to wind down. The last remaining entries are S L O W L Y emerging from the depths of the Labora-Torrey. I'm taking a break from stamping for my next couple of cards in favor of some diecuts mixed with good old-fashioned paper-piecing by hand.

Yep, people still do that!

I find paper-piecing by hand a whole lot easier than dragging my Cricut out and searching through all my cartridges for the appropriate images --even though I only have 3 cartridges (at least to my husband's knowledge I only have 3. So Sssshh. Zip it.)

My DH and I just celebrated our 4th anniversary. I think we're finally really getting to know each other. I don't feel like a newlywed anymore. I'm okay with that. That's not to say I feel like our marriage feels like an old, worn-out shoe...it's more like a favorite pair of yoga pants.

Life is good.

Here is the card I made for my DH. Nothing fancy, compared to cards I've done and are about to do (as you'll see in upcoming posts). It's just a simple card....nice...and a bit silly. I used the wheel from a bicycle die I have for the sun (Memory Box I think). The fence is from Impression Obsession and the clouds are from Impression Obsession and Elizabeth Crafts. The grass is a Martha Stewart edge punch.

Inside:

Thanks, as always, for venturing out to Left Field--where creativity runs amok.



June 11, 2015

Christmas in July...well, technically, June.

Hidy Ho crafty peeps!

Summer just appeared out of nowhere here in Texas.  One day it was raining and 60° F, the next day...

BAM!

The mercury topped out around 97° F (that's 36° C for you Canadian peeps and those across "the Pond"). Add the humidity to that and you get air that's like a hot, wet sock.

Thank heavens for air conditioning.

Over at House Mouse & Friends they're having a "Holiday" challenge. And, I decided what better way to keep cool than to pretend it's December and make a holiday card. I didn't stop there.

NO SIR-EEEE, Charlie.

I cranked up the A/C, put a sweater and fuzzy slippers on, popped some Christmas music in the CD player, had some hot chocolate, and whipped up this little beauty of a card.

Okay, so it wasn't HOT chocolate.

It was chocolate ice cream.

Oh, just go with it!

My husband couldn't figure out why it was so cold in the house. Then he saw me sitting there, in a sweater, listening to Bing Crosby, making this Christmas-themed card.

I know he thought I had completely lost it.

Hey, I do what I have to do to get "inspired".

The image I picked is "Funny Face" with Maxwell and Mudpie (or is that Muzzie? I can't see his left ear, so I'm guessing. Maybe it is Muzzie--he is rather fuzzy). This image was kind of a bear to color. Ok, it was a TOTAL bear to color. It was a PILL. It was...an anathema.

I studied several photos of reflections in ornaments to see what the ornament color does to the reflected image's color. Guess what? The reflection totally turns to a monochromatic version of whatever the ornament color is. So, I colored Maxwell's reflection in monochromatic reds.

I futzed with coloring that ornament for more than an hour, possibly even 2. I used a combination of Prismacolor pencils and Polychromos pencils. I'm SLOWLY transitioning to Polychromos pencils. They're MUCH more durable (leads don't break like they do with Prismacolors). The points stay sharp a whole lot longer too. I'm not loving the Polychromos color selection, however. They lack in "subtle" shades...lighter tints and muted tones. Their colors are more saturated. So for the pale colors, I'll stick with Prismas.

I paper-toled (decoupaged) the image into several layers. When I do paper-toling, I use a big ball sylus and cup the pieces so they aren't flat anymore. This TOTALLY worked for the ornament which ended up basically being a half sphere, and it created a nice rounded shape to Mudpie/Muzzy's arm. I framed the image with a Spellbinders die.

When I finished the card I decided it needed some finishing touch, so I added the diecut tree branch (Impression Obsession) over the top of the image. AND...I tied floss in all the buttons. Every time I do this I think of my bestee, Jodi. She INSISTS that ALL buttons on projects have to be tied with floss or ribbon.

H A V E   T O.

I, however, don't share that conviction. Most of the time I leave my buttons nekked. But today, I dressed them up because Jodi was on my mind.


Here is a detail shot of the coloring:



I would like to enter this card in the following challenges:

Thanks, as always, for venturing out to Left Field!



May 27, 2015

What's Cookin'?

Hidy Ho, crafty peeps!

What's cookin'?

I am.

As y'all know, I'm currently locked away in my labora-Torrey creating up a virtual storm of cards.

I'm wondering if I have room in my studio for a Tesla coil and some plasma ball thingies. I guess I've been watching too much Robot Chicken.

Today's test subject is a card I whipped up for my sister. I don't talk to her very often, and I see her even less. It's sad. It's really sad. It's not that we aren't close, or have had a falling out or anything. Those who know me, know the story of my beautiful sister, Heidi, and the rough go of life she's having.

Sigh.

So, I thought I'd send her a card...for no reason, other than to tell her I love her.

Oh...and to send her my recently-discovered recipe for the world's best chocolate cake...EVER. Her family loves chocolate cake. (if you're interested...here's a link to the post with the recipe!)
Are you sitting down? 

It's another House Mouse card!!

I think, next time they have a design team call, I'm gonna apply to be on their design team. Yep, I'm gonna do just that...whenever their next DT call is...hint hint.

So, for today's card, I used the "Mix it Up" stamp. It's simple, but so stinkin' cute.

This card turned out a WHOLE LOT more busy than I had intended. But, I only had a scrap left of the patterned paper I used, and I wanted to make the most of it. So, I cut it apart into its design elements and just sort of used everything I had for the card.

I dry-embossed the background and card base. For the background, I used a Tim Holtz Alterations embossing folder. For the card base, I used my score board and made my own embossed grid pattern. Then I lightly inked over the surface to bring out the details of the embossing. 

The image and card base are on Kraft cardstock. Once again, I paper-toled (decoupaged) the image and sentiment by hand into several layers after I colored them up with my ever-trusty Prismacolor pencils. There are SO MANY layers on this card...I lost count after 5.


   And, here is a closeup of the coloring:
 I would like to enter this card in the following challenges:
 As always, thank you ever so much for coming out here to visit me in Left Field!

 



May 26, 2015

Dandelion Wishes

Hidy Ho, crafty peeps!

I wanted to share with you the gifts I made to go along with those uber cute dandelion cards I recently posted. I ended up making 2 of these. They are dandelion necklaces--with real dandelion seeds. The first one I made was for Jodi. It turned out so cute, I decided to make another one for my cousin's graduation present.

Now, I am by no means a jewelry artist, but these turned out great if I do say so myself. So much so...I have enough supplies left over to make one for myself.

I harvested the dandelion seeds myself.

"Big whoop", you say.

Well, it kind of was a "big whoop". You see, it's been raining here in Texas for WEEKS. Couple that with the tornado-force winds we've been getting and low-and-behold, there are no more fuzzy dandelions to be found.

Before you all start sending me packages of dandelion fuzz, rest assured, I finally found some...though it took awhile. (I can just see it now...dozens of feather-light little boxes arriving at my doorstep; filled to the brim with dandelion heads).

Don't even.

I'm begging you.

Here is one of the necklaces I made

It's a glass "locket" (glass on both sides so it's clear), with 3 VERY carefully-placed dandelion seeds sandwiched between the panes of glass. And yes, I glued the locket shut with E6000. There is NO WAY I want these suckers to come open.

Between the static electricity and ambient breezes, it took me about 30 minutes to position those blooming seeds just right. Just when I thought I had them in place...I'd bump it, or they'd stick to the tweezers, or I'd exhale and send them flying.

Here is a closer view

The locket, chain, and jewelry findings I used are all from Michaels. They're made by Bead Landing.

Thanks, as always for venturing out to Left Field!