Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Ryan!

Today is my husband's birthday!  
This morning to celebrate Monkey and Lil Bean helped me bake a cake.  Turns out they are excellent pan greasers! We made two 8" chocolate cakes.

Monkey is wearing her apron that I showed you in a previous post here.

The cake is in the oven!  While baking, we made a peanut butter filling.  You can find the recipe here. 

I used my cake leveler to even out both cakes.  Then I loaded on the peanut butter filling.  Can you tell I used crunchy peanut butter?  

OK, so maybe too much filling...

Topped with chocolate icing and all the candles I could find.  We can pretend he's only 21.  ;)

Happy Birthday Daddy!

I'm adding this peanut butter recipe to my collection.  It was so yummy I'll definitely make it again!

By the way, the balloon wreath was a project Amanda and I worked on a few months ago.  You can find a great tutorial over at How Does She.

Have a wonderful evening!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sweet on Volunteers

Every year we have a volunteer appreciation luncheon at school.  This year the theme was "We are sweet on Volunteers."  All of the teachers chip in for door prizes for the volunteers that come.  I knew I was going to make a cookie bouquet to go with the theme.  Who doesn't like cookies?  But as I was wandering through Hobby Lobby looking for a cute basket or tray to put them in I saw very cool chalkboard flowerpots.  However, they were $20 for a small pot.  I'm cheap.  So I got a can of chalkboard spray paint and a $3 pot instead.

I took the pot into the garage and gave it two coats of paint, allowing time to dry in between coats.  As the paint dried I got busy making sugar cookie dough and marshmallow fondant.  I used the same cookie cutters on the cookies and fondant.  The cookies rose just enough to make them the perfect fit.  I also tried to put the fondant cut-outs on the cookies while they were still hot.  OK, so I didn't really know what I was doing but it all came together alright!  This was my third time ever making marshmallow fondant.  I had forgotten what a challenge it can be!

After the cookies cooled I used decorating gel to decorate.  I chose this gel because I'm lazy and didn't want to get out all of my icing bags and tips.  And I didn't want to make icing.  Or clean it up.  Plus, the little gel tubes are super easy to use.  Rookie mistake!  Gel doesn't harden all the way.

The final product turned out alright!  I stuffed some crumpled up paper under the cookies, but the weight of the cookies was enough that you couldn't see too many of them anyway.  I spread out the decorated cookies on the top to keep the gel from getting smashed.  It was a hit and one lucky volunteer was thrilled to get cookies!

How do you show your appreciation?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Home Office Organization

I've been working hard to get my house in order.  Seems like we went from being snowed in and stir crazy to on the go constantly with no time to catch up.  I've seen a lot of blogs that show how they stay organized so I thought I would do the same!  

We have an unusually long dining room.  This end had a foosball table once upon a time.  But it was seldom used and we needed the space when our guest bedroom/office turned into a kid's bedroom when we had our second child.

Now everything has a place.  This is the only room in the house I haven't painted.  Sometimes it drives me crazy.  But, we have an open floor plan and I have never been able to decide on a color for the kitchen/dining/office that will compliment the living room.  It may never happen.

I finally went through everything that was collecting on the book shelves and organized.  Reference books on the top shelf, photos on the second shelf, hubby's books on the next shelf, then the kids' shelf, and finally on the bottom are old year books and random stuff from high school.  So far the kids' shelf has been a huge hit!  It keeps the girls from pulling all of our books off the shelf.  Score!

I'm crazy about having see-through storage.  I will store anything that will fit in a jar.  I have buttons, glue sticks, paint pens (ok, that one is a tall cocktail glass), batteries, paper clips, staples, well you get the point...

Oh, and yes, there is a live bird on a perch in the first picture.  Sometimes my husband brings his "work" home, too.  :)

Have a great week!

Super Easy Gift Card Holders

Hello Feathers and Fingerprints!

Today I want to show you how to make a super easy gift card holder. They are cuter than anything you can buy in the stores ... in my humble opinion!

You start with a 4x6" piece of cardstock. I used paper from a scrapbook stack I had leftover from a different project:

Using a ruler, I marked the long side of the paper at 2" and 4.5". To make this most visible for a picture, I put some bright paper behind the project and made a dark pencil line.

Then I folded the paper on the lines! This would be easier and make a cleaner fold with a scoring tool, but I don't have one. Looks like I need to shop!

Next, I glued the edges of one of the 2" sections up to the middle section. I used tacky glue because I had it on hand. Any paper glue would work! I held it in place with some paper clips as it dried.

While the glue dried, I used some fun scissors to make the top edge fancy!

When the glue dried I tucked a gift card inside!

Then I folded down the top and tied it closed with some twine! Skinny ribbon would work too.

Ta-Da! Super easy! I'll never buy a gift card holder again!

Have a great day everybody!


Little Helper's Apron

My girls always want to help in the kitchen.  I've been wanting to make little aprons forever now.  I saw this polka-dot fabric on clearance at walmart one day and was motivated to get one done! 

As soon as I started I realized the polka-dot pattern was in no way squared.  Maybe that's why it was on clearance?  It looks like I cut it really crooked in this picture!  This apron is for my 3 year old so the main piece is 16 inches across and 16 inches top to bottom, with the top corners cut off.  I cut two pieces so it would be semi-reversible.

Then I made an elastic ruffle for the neck.  Nothing worse than an apron that hangs way low, and I have a fear for kids apparel that ties or can be tightened around the neck.  I considered doing a velcro strap, but then I thought about all the bibs we have that have been washed so many times the velcro no longer holds.  

To make the elastic ruffle neck strap I took a rectangle of fabric about 4 inches wide and maybe 22 inches long.  I folded it lengthwise right sides together, stitched all the way down, then turned it right side out.  Then I took a thin piece of elastic of the desired neck length and stretched it from one end of the fabric to the other.  I stitched it in place next to the original fabric seam and when I stopped stretching it sprung back creating the ruffles.  I pinned it in place with the raw ends pointing up.

I made the ruffle for the bottom edge by cutting a long rectangle 4 inches wide.  I generally cut my fabric intended for ruffles twice as long as the area it will be sewn too.  I folded it in half lengthwise and ironed the wrong sides together this time since my raw edge will be hidden inside the body of the apron, and stitched flat.  Then, like I usually do to make a ruffle, I used the longest stitch on my machine and tried to pull the thread tight to bunch the fabric.  This didn't go as smoothly as planned because my thread kept breaking as I pulled.  But I managed to make it work. I'll have to come up with a better way when I make Little Bean's apron.  Any suggestions?  

I pinned the ruffle along the edge of the body piece, raw edges together.  I curved the ends out to taper the ruffle off below the waist strap.  

The pocket is 7.5 by 5 inches with about half an inch folded under and pressed on each side.  I stitched the top hem before attaching it to the body.

The waist strap was another long rectangle 4 inches wide.  It was folded into fourths; first in half and ironed, opened up and each side folded over to the crease and ironed again, then folded back on the original crease.  So when stitched the raw edges are tucked away flat into the crease.  Clear as mud?  (Have I mentioned I'm not an expert?)  I ended up only needing it to be about 12 inches long, so after securing it I snipped the excess.  I snipped the excess ruffle, too.  Better too long than too short!

The waist strap was also pinned in place.  The picture below shows the excess that was cut off after sewing.  I put my second body piece face down and pinned in place.  I stitched along the edges, leaving a hole in the top right corner to turn right-side-out.

I turned it right-side-out and stitched along the edges (closing the hole in the top corner).

I added long velcro strips so the waist can be adjusted.  And put on by a 3 year old without assistance.  I'll swap this velcro out for snaps later if the velcro gets worn out in the laundry.

Girl's Ruffle Apron

And the finished product... {{drumroll}}

Girl's Frilly Apron

I'm quite happy with the end result, and so is my little helper!  I grabbed the apron to take a picture of Monkey wearing it, but it was stuck in a wad covered with pancake syrup.  Such is life with a Monkey!  :)

Have you made a ruffled apron?  I'd love to hear about how you made it!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Baby Craft Bonanza!

Good morning F&F! Amanda here ... reporting from frigid NE Oklahoma where the temperature plummeted to -27 degrees F overnight (yes, you read that right: negative twenty-seven degrees). I hope everyone in our area remembered to drip their faucets overnight, or else they'll likely be dealing with frozen pipes this morning! So thanks to the terrible temperatures and piles of snow, I'm cooped up and suffering from cabin fever. The only prescription is more cowbell crafts.

So, I don't have any kids, but I love all things baby! Therefore, when one of my friends is expecting, I go crazy making cute, teeny-tiny, colorful baby goodies! Today's post: fun baby crafts for gifting, aka Baby Craft Bonanza.

Craft #1: Carry-Along Cuddling Blankies

Years ago I came across some cute cuddling blankies at a specialty gift store. Instead of paying big bucks for one, I made my own:

With input from my friends who have babies, I decided that 13" x 13" is the perfect size blankie for carrying along in the car or stroller. Babies love the texture of the satin ribbon loops, which are also great for attaching the blankie to a stroller or diaper bag so it doesn't end up on the floor. Recently I found this Sleepy Owls fleece at Hobby Lobby and knew it was the start of another blankie. I used solid bright green on the opposite side and polka dot ribbon. I think the end product is great for a little boy or girl!

Craft #2: Fancy Baby Burp Cloths

Inspired by a post a few months back at How Does She?, I recently made these burp cloths as a baby shower gift!

I bought a package of coordinating pre-cut fabrics meant for quilting. They were the perfect size at 12" x 18". I used pink chenille as the backing. I thought this project was going to be super easy, but quickly became frustrated because the chenille was stretching as I stitched, but the cotton quilting fabric was not. I did a quick google search on "sewing with chenille" and learned that I needed to adjust my presser foot pressure. I set my presser foot to "0" (zero) and the problem was solved!

Craft #3: Ruffle Butt Onesies

I can't remember now where I got this idea, but I've seen it all over the blogging world many times. Basic concept: embellish a simple baby onesie! When I found a package of onesies on clearance at Walmart, I decided to give it a try.

I don't have a ruffle foot for my sewing machine, so I did it the manual way: sew a long basting stitch and pull! I used grosgrain ribbon so I wouldn't have to finish the upper and lower edges. I can't wait to see these ruffles on a little diapered baby butt!

Craft #4: Crocheted Baby Booties

With new found crocheting confidence, I downloaded a crochet pattern for these adorable baby booties! You can purchase the pattern on Little Birdie Secret's Etsy page. It took a few tries but I figured out how to make them! Here's how they turned out:

The pattern uses three basic stitches: Slip Stitch, Single Crochet, and Half Double Crochet. I learned these three stitches by watching tutorial videos by theknitwitch on YouTube. Once you're there, click on "Uploads" and use the search box on the right to find the stitch with which you need help.

In conclusion, baby crafts are small, which makes them do-able. They don't require a huge amount of material or time, so if they don't turn out, you haven't wasted much of either! These crafts make great gifts, because they are handmade and handmade=heartfelt! And, making baby crafts inside sure beats shoveling snow outside!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hey, Who Took My Towel?!?!

WAY too often I reach for a towel after washing my hands or washing dishes and my towel is gone!  I stand there with dripping hands looking for something clean to wipe them on.  No matter how many towels I keep around, they all get taken!  Usually one of the girls spills something and swipes my towel to mop it up.

But not any more.

I recently saw some ruffly towels and was inspired to make my own.  Then I was struck with brilliance and decided to put buttons and a letter K on MY towel so the little towel snatchers can't steal it!  Then, when I was trying to decide on how to do the K I thought about a really cute pillow I saw and stole borrowed the concept. Now, I'll admit that her pillow ruffles are much nicer looking than my own ruffles, but hey, I'm just glad it worked on the first try!

Here are my materials.  The fabric is from Hobby Lobby and the towels are from the Dollar Tree.  Next time I'll get nicer towels.  

I cut a strip of each fabric that was twice the width of the towel for my ruffle layers.  I ran them through my sewing machine with a long stitch to ruffle them.

Then I pinned and sewed each ruffle covering the green stripes.

 I like zig-zags.

Next came the part I was the most worried about.  I made a K out of an index card and traced it on my towel with a fabric marker.  Then I took a rectangle of fabric and ruffled both long edges.

 I pinned my fabric to the back of the towel, right side against the towel.

 Then I flipped it back over and stitched the outline of my K.

 I cut out my K inside the stitches.

 Since my towel was unraveling and shedding really bad I went over the cut edges with a zig-zag.

 I found some big ugly buttons in my button jar and covered them with fabric.  I traced a circle around the button on the fabric, then hand stitched around outside of the circle.  I covered the button with hot glue to get rid of the grooves and covered it with the fabric circle.  When I pulled the thread tight the fabric wrapped nicely around my button.  

I sewed a button hole on each side of my K.  This is the first time I used the button hole setting on my new sewing machine and after figuring out how on earth to get it to work (I had the foot on backwards) I decided I definitely love that setting and my machine.  I folded my towel where it will hang on the bar and marked through the button hole where to attach my buttons.

 And finally MY towel is finished!  It's hung too high for the girls to unbutton and run off with (I hope).  

I have another Dollar Tree towel.
And lots of ideas.
 And another snow day tomorrow.    
If only I had the energy to go clean the kitchen and try out my new towel...