Saturday, September 29, 2012

Blankie for the Baby

When I found out my sister was having a baby, I was
soooo excited--so excited, in fact, that I immediately put
my nervous energy to use at the sewing machine.

I decided to make a baby quilt. This was my first attempt at making a quilt,
so it was by no means perfect, but I was pretty proud of the result.

I used lots of different patterns. The small blue squares have pictures of girls
and boys holding balloons and ABC's. I used the black and white fabric because
babies are supposed to be able to see black and white patterns clearly first.
The pirate boarder was for daddy, the more "sophisticated" patterns were for

For all the thought I put into it, however, there was one
problem... there is a lot of PINK in this blanket, and the
ultrasound came back BLUE. That's right, I'm having a

Take two: boy's blankie. For this blanket, I actually went
to the fabric store and bought fabric specifically for this
project. (All fabric from the previous blanket came from
my stash -- the only thing I had purchased for blanket 1
was some embroidery floss to pull through and knot -- my
solution to the "quilting" problem.)

The pattern of fabric blocks is a lot simpler on this one, but I did actually
machine quilt it instead of just knotting it. I used all flannel fabric (bought on
clearance!) and a satiny green fabric (recycled) for the border. The bug?
$1 at the dollar store. Attached to the blanket for chewing purposes.

The backing fabric on this one is BLUE with stars. I made a little "leaf" in the
corner for baby to chew on or in case mama wants to hang the blanket on a
hook or something. Whatevs.

I think the cuteness factor is somewhat amplified here...

So, maybe if one of my other sisters gets pregnant, I'll have a taker for
blankie number 1. ;)

Shipbuilding 101

A trip to the Dollar Tree this morning yielded something new: pirate toys! My kids LOVE pirates. My son was a pirate for his second birthday, and ever since the kids have enjoyed dressing up in costume pieces and sword fighting and pillaging (usually the candy jar). They have pirate Legos and other pirate toys, but none quite this scale. The pirate ships we have are a tad too small... and, what's a pirate without a ship? Nothing but a thief, and where's the romance in that? Well, there was nothing to do, but make a pirate ship. Out of what, you ask... Cardboard, of course!

This isn't exactly a tutorial, but here are several pictures of the ship-in-progress and the final product. I hope you enjoy!

When I went back to work about a year ago, my crafting time was reduced
to almost nothing. But, there is ONE perk to my job... access to all kinds
of cardboard boxes!

A few modifications, and the cardboard begins to take shape...

The kids eagerly watch, anxious for their new toy to be ready.

The deck was pretty easy to install. I used the flaps from the second box.
(Yes, that is my toe in the corner with blue sparkle polish. The bottled up creative
energy has to go SOMEWHERE during the week, and I fear it is coming out
in the form of wacky nails...)

These are some sturdy cardboard tubes I have collected. Perfect for the
mast! The crow's nest is a small, wide cardboard cylinder from the bottom
of a Pillsbury cinnamon roll can.

Cut away the sides, add ship's wheel...

Install mast, sales, rigging, and flags. (Yes, these are flags
from an invisible dog fence. They didn't work for the dog,
but at least I found SOME use for them.)

Sailing the high seas... or, high grass, rather.

Now, to add pirates...

Big brother's pirate is the lookout.

Arrr, Mateys!

Swab the deck!

Lads, where's that treasure map?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Snug as a Bug in a Rug!

This is a sneak preview of a project I just finished. I'll tell you all about it soon!

Gotta love a new sewing project ;)

Monday, September 3, 2012

First Step to Having an Adventure: Dress the Part

Indiana Jones meets Jane Goodall... That's how I'd describe this look. And
why are my children dressed as outdoorsmen/adventurers? We were preparing
for a camping trip, of course!
Grandma bought my son his explorer vest a while back, and his hat came
from his aunt in Texas, so he was pretty well outfitted already. The girls?
Well, let's just say I had a pair of khaki pants set aside to be repurposed,
and this project was perfect for them.
Both vests and the satchel were made from a single pair of pants and a few
scraps of brown fabric I had been gifted. We made sure both vests had pockets
(what kind of self-respecting adventurer would ever travel without a gratuitous
number of pockets?).
Claire's vest and bag were made from the legs (with a ready-made cargo-pocket
on the side of her bag) and Katie's was made from the top half, turned
upside down. I was able to sew the pockets in such a way that even though
they are now upside-down, they still work. The waist band is still a waist

I was so proud of these outfits, particularly because the kids were so enthusiastic about them. They wore their vests and bags all night long and all the next day on our camping trip. We slept in a tent, cooked dinner over a campfire, trekked through the woods, paddled a canoe, and played in a river, just like real explorers. My kids carried useful items like mosquito spray, a first-aid kit, binoculars, and a (dull) pocket knife in their bags and pockets. Each kid had a little notebook to draw pictures and take notes of all their discoveries (although these were mostly for show, considering that my three-year-olds can't really write or draw, and my six-year-old is just learning how to read and spell). 

Although the girls have since largely lost interest in their explorer vests (it's been a week), my son still wears his every day for at least part of the day. Makes Mama happy to see my kids really getting into the pretend play. I can't wait until our next adventure!

Bridal Shower Cake... Sort Of.

Not the prettiest cake I've ever made... But it'll do.

I think the theory was sound, it was just a problem with execution. I wasn't really in a baking mood, but I DID want to try my hand at a bridal shower cake for my soon-to-be cousin-in-law, Erica. Also, I did my shopping at the Dollar Tree. 

The Dollar Tree has these delicious pound cakes, and I figured they would make a delicious decorated cake. I bought six, planning to stack them up and construct a larger cake from the smaller cake bricks. In hindsight, I should have cut them down a little more so they would have been less rounded and more squared. They would have stacked nicer, methinks. The cake was pretty tall, so it wouldn't have hurt anything if I had done that. I'll remember that next time ;)

My main downfall with the decorating was that I didn't purchase enough icing, and also I had no large zip-lock bags to pipe the icing on with. The wedding colors were purple and yellow, so I mixed up some purple food coloring  and iced the cake. It was pretty thin in spots, so I tried to cover up the holes with some yellow sugar paper. It was a pretty sad-looking cake, and I didn't have any white icing left to do the decorating I had planned. I put the cake in the fridge, hoping I'd be able to fix it the next day.

Well, as fate would have it, I got off work early on party day, in time to stop at the Dollar Tree for another tub of icing and a box of large zip bags. I stuck the Barbie head into the cake, piped on the white edging and the dress, and had enough icing left over to mix in the purple and patch the thin spots. This left the cake a little lumpy-looking, but otherwise finished. It was greeted with oohs and ahhs, so I think I did alright, but it was definitely a learning experience.

Will I try this method of cake-building again? Yeah, I think so. Will I do it differently? Definitely. I'll cut the cakes down a bit more (as mentioned above), buy EXTRA icing, make sure I've got all the materials I need for decorating BEFORE I begin (zip bags), and probably mix the icing with cream cheese or something... Yeah, the cake tasted pretty good, but the icing was a little sugary. 

Happy crafting, folks!

And Now for a Little Something Girly...

My daughters are serious about their glitter glue...
One of my favorite things about shopping at the Dollar Tree is their craft supply section, which has been expanding more and more. I love being able to grab a few items (spending only a small amount of cash) and have a ready-made project for the kids to enjoy. My daughters, lately very interested in purses and other "girly" pursuits, had a blast making these little purple bags. Here's the breakdown: 

purple bags (3) $1
glitter glue (10) $1
jewels (20) $1
flowers (3) $1.50

Total cost for 3 girly purses? $4.50. Not bad, in my book, considering for that price we also got about an hour's worth of entertainment. The only downside? They can't really play with them for a few days... considering that they emptied the glitter glue onto their purses in large, globular puddles about 1/2 an inch deep. Oh, well... maybe it will be exciting all over again in a few days when they discover their sparkly purple purses, dry and ready to be played with.

Can you guess which one Mama made?