winner wednesday!

I actually really wanted the title of this post to be "Winner-Winner-Chicken-Dinner Wednesday" but felt like it was a tad bit (sarcasm) too long. Either way, I am very excited to say:
to my first-ever giveaway winner...Susan O! Check your email and you should have a note from me with instructions on how to get your awesome autumn giveaway set.

Thanks everyone for reading and keep an eye out for more fun giveaways in the future. 


diy autumn coasters & my first giveaway!

Autumn is officially here and I could not be more excited!! 55 degrees outside, cup of coffee in hand. More accurately, this is me -------->

So...to commemorate all this excitement, I have a fun, cheap, and easy DIY project to share: 
Handmade Tile Coaster Sets 

Naturally, I saw the idea somewhere else online (probably Pinterest) and there are a lot of tutorials out there, but this is the way I've found works best.

Materials needed:
- 1 to 4 sheets of scrapbooking paper depending on if you want all the coasters to match or to create a themed set like I did (approx $0.30 each)
- jar of matte finish Mod Podge ($4 and up at Hobby Lobby)
- 1 to 2 small sheets of felt in the color of your choice ($0.25 each at Hobby Lobby)
- hot glue gun and glue sticks (ranges in price but I have a $3 mini one)
- 4 to 6 tiles depending on how many coasters you want in your set (the cheapest ones at Lowe's are labeled 4"x4" Biscuits and are $0.16 each)
- small can of clear satin water-based Polyurethane ($7 at Lowe's)

  • Start with a trip to Hobby Lobby. Spend forever picking out your paper, decide how many coasters you want, and end up buying something unrelated just because it's Hobby Lobby.
  • Take everything home and set it all out on your desk. Breathe in the inevitable, glorious anticipation that comes with the beginning of a new project. Then, proceed to cut out 4"x4" squares of the paper and felt.
  • Wipe the tops of the tiles off with a dry cloth to remove Lowe's dust, and use a thin coat of Mod Podge to apply a paper square to the top of each tile. Set them aside and let them dry.
  • Once dry, apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the whole surface of the tiles, especially around the edges of the paper to seal them. Let dry.
  • Next, apply 2-3 coats of Polyurethane to each of the tiles. Mod Podge is great as a basic crafting glue but it isn't really waterproof - the Polyurethane helps seal the tiles so they're safe to use with drippy, condensation-ing drink glasses. Let dry fully between each coat.
  • Once everything is totally dry, use your hot glue gun to apply one felt square to the back of each tile so they don't scratch furniture.
  • Stack them up and impress your guests with your crafty awesomeness! (and secretly love the fact that, all told, you only spent about $3)

And since fall is here and I made these coasters for no real reason, I am super excited to announce:
the first-ever giveaway on A Song for the Birds!
That's right, this super cool autumn coaster set can be yours! Plus, a pair of snuggly socks and 
NC local bath salts...man is that a great giveaway, am I right? 
Just leave a comment below letting me know that you were here and by Wednesday, 
I'll randomly select one reader to win! Plus, who knows...I may throw in some other awesome stuff as a last minute 
surprise (wink!). Just my way of saying thanks for reading and that I hope your autumn is awesome!

**Edit 9/25/13 - This giveaway is now closed. Please keep reading in the future for more giveaways, tutorials, and other random fun stuff. Thanks!**


autumn baking kickoff - part 2

Super-Spice Molasses Cookies
I love for things that are meant to be spicy, to really pack a punch. As a rule, I always use lots of extra chai when I make my morning drinks, hot or cold. As such, I've looked for a while for a truly spice-featuring autumn cookie that is still soft and chewy, regardless of when it is eaten. And I found it all in this incredible and easy recipe!


2-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp each: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup sugar divided
1 egg
1 tbsp orange juice or orange liqueur
1/4 cup molasses

  • Whisk together all the dry ingredients.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together till fluffy, add the egg, then orange juice/liqueur and molasses. 
  • Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture. 
  • Refrigerate 45 minutes. (This is important because otherwise the dough is too sticky to work with.)
  • Roll dough into 1" balls then press into discs.
  • Cover with 1/4 cup sugar and place on baking sheet about 2" apart.
  • Bake on 350 for 8-10 minutes.

I personally think these are perfect for dipping in what I call "Snow Cream Steamers"...just a cup of milk with a tsp of sugar and vanilla extract heated up like hot chocolate. Excellent for snuggling up with a book!


autumn baking kickoff - part 1

Caramel-Chai Apple Pie (super tasty and it rhymes to boot!)
This weekend my amazing friend Kirsten's birthday was serendipitously accompanied by a drop in temperature significant enough to merit the official kickoff of the autumn baking season! As such, I am happy to have two incredible recipes to share. Though it may sound totally nuts from the name, I can promise you that this is the very best apple pie I have ever made. Ever.

Pillsbury 2 ct. refrigerated pie crusts
1 egg white
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp pure caramel extract
1/2 cup chai concentrate (Tazo or Oregon Chai are both great)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp each: cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg
4 granny smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced

  • First, set your crusts out for 15 minutes to bring them to room temp. Normally, I'd harp on the importance of handmade pastry but frankly, these are easy and delicious and I'm giving myself a free pass since the rest of the pie is from scratch. Unroll one crust, line your pie pan, and brush it with egg white.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the 1/2 cup butter and add the flour to make a paste. 
  • Add the caramel extract, chai concentrate, both sugars, and the spices. 
  • Stir and increase heat to bring to a light boil then reduce and simmer, continuing to stir so the sugar doesn't burn to the bottom. Cook on low for 5-7 minutes then remove from heat.
  • Line the bottom crust with a layer of apple slices (I think it's essential to keep the slices thin) and pour 1/4 of the filling mixture over them. Repeat layering apples and filling till full.
  • Cut up the 2 tablespoons butter and dot the top of the pie.
  • Unroll your top crust and either use it whole or cut up into a lattice. 
  • Brush the entire top with egg white and then poke vent holes.
  • Bake on 350 for 1 hour. Cool to room temperature and *this is key*...let it set up for 5-6 or so hours before serving. 

It got rave reviews for me and thankfully, the birthday girl said she enjoyed her "cake".
Reheat a slice and top it with some vanilla bean ice cream...that's what I call a great way to start off fall!