Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Dress

I decided I wanted to make a Christmas dress for Ava this year, something I've never done before. Last year I bought this flocked polka-dot fabric on clearance with this purpose in mind.
(We are growing out her bangs, so pardon the hair in the eyes).

I had to take it apart and put it back together a few times, but it was worth it.

I'm working on writing up the pattern so that will be available before long. I made this in a 3T size, so that is what the pattern will be. Pin It

Chalkboard Painted Lids

Confession: I still haven't finished all my neighbor treats. But. I did manage to get a few done, including this one for a friend who is gluten-intolerant. She loves peppermint patties so I gave her a jar full of those. You could do hot cocoa mixes, cookie mixes, soup, etc.

I had bought some chalkboard paint for another project, and I still have a ton left over. If you want to do it, it's pretty self-explanatory. Paint the lid with 2 or 3 coats of paint and write a message on the top! You can decorate the jar too if you want, of course.
And a little tip I saw on Pinterest after doing this, you can sharpen your chalk in a pencil sharpener for more precise writing. Pin It

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

DIY Cardboard Reindeer

I found this idea (and instructions) via Good Houskeeping. Since I am lacking Christmas decor for my walls, I thought this one looked like fun.

It was super cheap too! Free box from something shipped to me, and a cheap wreath for $2.50 plus a bow for 99 cents. I don't have an 11x17 printer so I had to just hand draw my reindeer instead, and I made mine a little bigger I think. The nice thing about this too is that you can disassemble it and pack it flat if you don't have a lot of storage space.
I wasn't sure if it would look as good in real life as it does in their photo, but I'm happy to say it does. It's a fun little addition to our holiday decor. Maybe next year I'll buy a nicer wreath. Pin It

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipe: Cranberry Orange Pop Tarts

It is guaranteed that after a big Thanksgiving dinner you will have some leftovers. There are all kinds of things to do with those tasty morsels, but what about cranberry sauce? I like homemade cranberry sauce (super easy), and it has many great uses for the days after. 
First up, Cranberry PopTarts with Orange Glaze  Frosting.

So let's start with the cranberry sauce. My bag of fresh cranberries had the recipe on it: 
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 bag of fresh cranberries
In a medium pot, stir sugar and water together and bring to a boil. Add cranberries and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. (I kind of smash the berries down a little as it cooks).

For the pie crust I recommend a homemade crust, but if you are short on time you can just buy one.
Cut the crust into equal size rectangles and fill half of them with a generous spoonful of cranberry sauce. Dip your finger in some water and run it around the inside borders of each and place the top rectangles on top. Press edges with a fork to seal shut and prick middles for venting. Bake at 350 F for about 20-22 minutes or until golden.

For the orange glaze, I didn't measure, so you may need to alter this a little but here's the basics. 
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp orange juice concentrate
1/4 c powdered sugar (more or less, until desired consistency is achieved)
Mix 'em all together and spoon it over the top. Eat and enjoy!

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Sunday, November 25, 2012


These are some invitations I made for our Young Women Evening of Excellence. If you'd like a digital file for yourself to modify, let me know and I'll send it to you.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sharing the Thanksgiving Love

I hope you've all had a fantastic Thanksgiving! Might not have been the best for my hubby since he's trying to pass some kidney stones... But on a more positive note I wanted to share something wonderful. It has become a tradition in my neighborhood every year to have a "Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt" which is basically a food drive. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, all the teenagers gather and divide up to go to every house in the neighborhood to ask for food donations for Thanksgiving dinners for needy families. The generosity and love of my neighbors is astounding. I wish I could thank them each individually. This year in our little neighborhood we collected enough food for 12 full meals and then some! (That means 12 donated turkeys, folks, plus all the other fixin's). We had committed to 6 families in need, and found 2 more, and the rest we donated to the local food bank.
(Sorry about few phone pics, I was busy organizing and directing and chasing my toddlers).

 rolls, stuffing, marshmallows, yams, pie crusts, homemade jam, pies, turkeys, cranberry sauce, etc.
potatoes, beans, corn, yams, pumpkin, butter, stuffing, sparkling grape juice, etc.

After dividing out the meals, we then personally drop off the food to the families in need (thank you friends of friends for helping me find these families). It's really great for teenagers to take themselves out of their own problems for a night and see the serious needs of others. The family that my group visited brought me to tears (and I don't cry super easily). It was obvious that some big medical needs were a hardship on their family. It was such a blessing to us to be able to help them, and I'm so grateful for them letting us come and accepting our donation. This is the real spirit of the season. Being thankful for what we have and passing it on to others, that hopefully through us they may feel the love of God. Pin It

Saturday, November 17, 2012

DIY Glitter Heart T-Shirt

After making my first freezer paper stencil graphic tee, I decided I wanted to do it again, with a twist. A glitter twist! I was hoping to find a glitter fabric paint at my local craft store, but instead found this 2-step glue and glitter.

I followed the same process as described here, and it turned out just great!

 Too me it seems impossible that the glitter will stay through multiple washings without some sort of clear sealant over layer,  so I will let you know how it holds up over time.

UPDATE: It has not held up well at all. I don't recommend it. After one washing half the glitter was gone. Maybe if you put a clear topcoat over it it would hold up.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Halloween Craft #5: Pop Tart Pumpkins

I know I'm just a wee bit late on this one, but I've decided to post it anyway. I've seen some make-at-home pop tart recipes and I had been wanting to try them. I thought some jack-o-lantern poptarts would just be the cutest thing for Halloween, so here they are.

I recommend a homemade pie crust if you want them to taste really good, but a store-bought one does work. But trust me, it doesn't taste as good. 
Here's how you do it:

1. Roll out your pie crust on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4" thickness or less. You don't want too thick of crust.

2. Take a large circle cookie cutter and press one end of it down on the crust, leaving the other end on top of the surface. Use a sharp knife to cut around the cookie cutter except for a notch at the top for the stem. Cut around a rectangular shape at the top for the stem. 

3. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut/saw out the eyes and mouth and lift them out from the center.

4. Cut a simple circle using your cookie cutter for the base layer of the pumpkin (your top stem doesn't need a bottom layer, it will be fine).

5. Place a spoonful of filling (recipe below) in the center of your base layer and spread slightly outward, leaving a sufficient clean edge around the outsides for sealing the top.

6. Dip your finger or a brush or something in water and run it around the outside edges of the base layer and the underside of the top layer to encourage sticking. Place the top/face over the filled base circle. Using a fork, press around the outside edges of the pumpkin with the tines to seal it shut. (I skipped over the stem and it didn't leak out).

7. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

I've done some where I overfilled them and some of the jam filling spilled out the eyes and mouth, which is actually kind of fun too. It's like the jack-o-lantern is drooling or crying.

Jam Filling:

3/4 c orange marmalade or apricot jam
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp corn starch
Mix all together and use as your filling.

If you want to be more festive you can use a pumpkin pie type filling with a cinnamon frosting, but I personally prefer jam poptarts.
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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Costumes 2012

This year's Halloween costumes were from the movie Up! I love bringing animations to life. I brought out my old house costume and took on the challenge of making Kevin, the bird. An added challenge was that it had to be wearable by a 3 year old. Which meant that attempt #1 was a no go (see below):

The neck and head were too tall and tipsy for my girl. They were attached to a bike helmet but the support still wasn't sufficient. And actually, I think the transition to the body isn't that great either. So it's probably good I had to make another attempt.

Now for a picture of my boy. I've mentioned before how active he is. Impossible to get a good still photo.

My hubs was out of town but fortunately my sweet mother-in-law came to trick or treat with us and get some group shots. I love my mother-in-law, I know not a lot of people can say that, and I feel very fortunate.

A few notes: For the scout sash, I went to the boyscouts website and downloaded a picture of each merit badge (so glad they had those available!). I put them all on one page and resized them all to 1.25 inches. I have a circle craft punch that size, so then I printed them on iron-on transfer paper (for dark shirts) and punched each one out. Peel off the backing and ironed them each onto the sash. The peeling off the backing was tricky and took forever. The shirt was from a thrift store, the rest I already had.

The bird: I wasn't planning on doing all those feathers. I was planning on just spray painting the felt body, but it looked terrible, so I had to do feathers. the orange feathers are actually just yellow felt with spray paint. Those looked fine. The body I ad-libbed and it could have been better, honestly. I'm not a great seamstress and times like these I wish I knew more, but it worked. It is padded with fiber fill (stuffing). The head started with a posterboard mold, padded with fiberfill, aluminum foil, and masking tape. I paper machéed it, let it dry, pulled out the posterboard and almost discarded the whole thing (that's when I started on head #1). It got a little deformed, so I had to remold a little with aluminum foil and then paper mache again. I used paper towels as my final layer of paper mache for a slightly better finished texture. The eyes are also paper mache (over small water balloons filled with air, not water). Turns out styrofoam balls are kind of pricey. Once dry, I spray painted it yellow and red. I used acrylic paint to do the green circles around the eye, then glued the eyes on. The pupils are drawn on with a sharpie marker. The blue part on the head is felt, and I just kind of pinned, glued, and trimmed. The head feathers are pipe cleaners and felt feathers.
Hope you had a happy Halloween too!

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Phineas & Ferb Costumes

As a celebrator of fantastic Halloween costumes, I have to share these with you. The Phineas & Ferb just blows my mind. My former coworker's wife made them. She MADE them.
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Quick Post

Here's one costume. More photos tomorrow.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Craft #4: Halloween Coloring Book Pages

We had a neighborhood "Fall Festival" party tonight, and we needed some activities to keep the little ones happy while the grown-ups socialized. Among other things, we had coloring. I quickly drew up these coloring pages for the kiddos and now I'm sharing them with you.
To download, click on the image and then right click and select Save As.

Happy Halloween!

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Key Lime Coconut Cupcakes

One of the cupcake shops around here won me over instantly when they sold me a key lime coconut cupcake. It was Ah-mazing! Moist and rich, with a delectable filling and dancing flavors on my tastebuds. It's a little far from my house, however, and I don't often find myself in that neighborhood anymore. So I set out to make my own by combining some recipes I found around the web. First cake attempt wasn't satisfactory, but round two was pretty darn good. So here's how it goes:

Key Lime Coconut Cupcakes

3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp coconut extract
almost 1 c coconut milk
1 c butter, melted
4 eggs
1 Betty Crocker Super Moist French Vanilla cake mix
(that's what I used but you can experiment with different brands, or maybe a white cake too)
2 tsp lime zest

Pour lime juice and coconut extract into a 1 cup measuring cup. Fill the rest of the cup full with coconut milk. Mix butter, eggs, cake mix, and coconut milk mix in a medium sized mixing bowl according to cake package directions. Stir in lime zest. Pour into lined cupcake pans (makes 24 cupcakes) and bake according to package directions. Cool.

I just bought some key lime filling because it was a trusted brand that I know to produce good tasting products (Private Selection brand, which is Krogers/Smiths high end store brand. They make great icecream too :)
You can make your own from scratch though. I haven't tried this but here's one example:
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 c key lime juice
1 Tbsp lime zest

I tried two different methods of filling. First, I carved a little hole out of the center with a knifeand filled in the hole with the lime filling. Most of the time I put in too much. Maybe if I had a cupcake corer this would have been more successful. My second method was to use a decorating bag and tip (Wilton #230) made for filling pastries and cupcakes. For me, that worked better. I just piped in the filling until I saw the cupcake begin to bulge. After the cupcakes have been filled, you may want to cover & refrigerate them for a few hours to allow the filling to soak in just a little.

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract
3 c powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients together and frost your cupcakes! Garnish with sprinkled lime zest and a thin sliced wedge of lime.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Halloween Craft #3: Tweed and Flannel Fabric Pumpkins

I had this idea last year but never got around to executing it. I'm glad I got to this year. I'm sure I got the idea of fabric pumpkins from somewhere else, maybe Martha? Who knows, but anyway, I thought some menswear would be the perfect touch for the season. A little dark, a little sophisticated, a little mysterious.

If you'd like some directions, this is a great tutorial.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

DIY Graphic Tee

The weather is starting to cool a little here, and my kids are in need of some warmer duds. So I snatched a plain grey t-shirt at Target the other day for Ezra and decided to make it into something more. I've always wanted to try freezer paper stencils, so this was a great opportunity for that. I decided upon a simple star image.
My little guy doesn't stop moving, so getting a decent photo was a serious challenge. A fun challenge too!

A typical face. He loves to "ooooo".

And lets finish with a salute? Why not.

If you'd like to take a stab at it, here's a quick tutorial. (It's easy).
I prewashed my shirt, probably should have ironed it for the photo {note that for next time}.
Create your image. I drew mine on the computer and printed it out. For more simple shape ideas, read the end of the post. Ok, so next lay your design over your freezer paper (waxy side down) and tape it down onto the freezer paper so it won't wiggle. Cut around your shape with an exacto knife.

Separate your papers and place your freezer paper stencil onto your shirt, waxy side down. Gently place the iron over your design, not rubbing it back and forth, just pressing it up and down so the paper doesn't get warped. Make sure you get all those little corners and edges really well.

Now the fun part! Put a barrier layer (like a flattened box or piece of cardboard) inside your shirt to prevent bleed through. Squirt some fabric paint onto an applicator sponge (I used a make-up sponge because  it isn't very porous and looked most like what the kits come with). Gently dab one layer of paint all over your design. You don't need to flood it on the first round. Allow layer 1 to dry and reapply. Repeat one more time if it needs it.

Once it has dried, peel off your freezer paper and you are done! (Read bottle directions for recommended wait time before washing).

Some other simple image ideas are: heart, cloud, moon, mustache, raindrop, bow tie, mask, simple elephant or whale, sail boat, an letter or number, bird, ampersand, mountain, octopus, fish, and so on.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halloween Craft #2: Sparkling Spider Webs

This is a craft that was inspired by a post on Pinterest. But I wanted to try it because I am lacking in decorations plus this was essentially a free craft since I already had all the supplies (which are cheap anyway).
Halloween Craft #2: Glitter Spider Web

Here's what you'll need:
1.wax paper or freezer paper with a waxy side (comes in larger size than wax paper)
2. glitter
3. glue-such as Elmer's
4. disposable box , optional, for controlling the spread of a glittery mess

Step 1: Lay your wax paper down on a flat working surface (inside your optional box).

Step 2: Open the tip of your glue bottle and start drawing a glue web.

Step 3: Pour generous amounts of glitter over your completed web, making sure every bit of it gets coated in sparkles.

Step 4: Allow to dry completely (this make take up to 24 hours). When dry, lift wax paper and shake off all the extra glitter (into your box, if you have one). Gently peel back the wax paper and remove your web. All done!

Tip: After a few more days the web does become brittle because it's just dried glue. So be gentle with it and keep toddlers away if you don't want it broken.

You can also do this trick on a painted pumpkin like I did a few years ago:

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Pinterest Weekly Round-up

Here are a few things I found on Pinterest this week:

Sushi Costume. I love the simplicity. Easy to make.

DIY duct tape boots for Halloween costumes.

Plastic Easter eggs turned skull party favors.

Cheap and easy DIY paper doll costume.

Worm and spider ice cubes for parties.

DIY stocking spider nests, eeeeew!

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