Tuesday, December 11

sugar and spice and everything nice

I had so much fun making cake pops for a gender reveal party for some close friends of ours. They opened a box of balloons to find out they are having a girl! I was in on the secret ahead of time and put my best effort into decorating these yummy treats.

The inside is white cake with cream cheese frosting and peppermint extract. I wasn't sure about the combination of the cream cheese and mint flavors, but I remembered seeing a cream cheese mint recipe on Pinterest, so I went for it. With a dash of red food coloring, the pink color fit the peppermint flavor and the girly element. The coating is Wilton chocolate candy melt, and the writing is the vanilla variety. I used a plastic baggie with a trimmed corner to write with the candy onto wax paper and placed it on top of the freshly dipped pops. Yum!

Sunday, December 2

let the holiday baking begin

Ok, so these treats didn't actually involve any baking, but aren't they cute? I can assure you they are delicious. I love the salty sweet mix, especially with a bit of crushed candy cane as garnish.

Tuesday, November 20

coming soon

Last year I got fabric to make two shirts for Patrick for his birthday. I didn't actually get around to making the shirts, so I'm hoping to finish them off as part of his gift this year. I also have some clothes I want to make for Atlas, but the project at the top of my list is a baby blanket for friends of my sister. Here are the fabrics I picked:

I also anticipate all kinds of new projects in the coming months because we're planning to move. More details on that later, but a new space inevitably means new design. It's going to be great.

Monday, November 19

To my poor neglected blog:

I'm sorry for being away so long. At first I was sick and had no energy for creativity, but more recently I've been making things without posting them. I promise I'll do better.


Thursday, November 1

costume: aviator

So a nasty cold completely derailed my costume making plans. I was miserable for over a week and spent any and all extra time resting and trying to heal. My plan was to use the sweatsuit pattern I drafted to make a fox costume. I had it all designed in my head, I had all the materials purchased, and I was so excited.

When we left for Michigan on Saturday, I had to make the hard choice to leave my project behind. I didn't want to assume I could borrow sewing equipment, and I didn't want to take time away from our visit with family. I cried.

We were invited to trick-or-treat with Atlas's cousins, which necessitated a costume, but I couldn't bring myself to go buy one. We decided to work with the sweatsuit I had already made, add the wings we got on the flight, and crochet a hat and goggles to complete the look.

The hat and goggles pattern is designed by Yarnovations.com and I purchased it on Etsy. A quick trip to Michaels for yarn and a few other supplies was easy. The hat was super quick and easy, the goggles slightly more time consuming, but also pretty basic. I used the exact yarn suggested by the pattern and a plastic cup for the lenses. I'm really pleased with the outcome.

I'm planning to use the materials I bought for the fox costume on a winter jacket inspired by this design and loosely using the Baby in the Hood pattern in Handmade Beginnings.


Sunday, October 21

"things that go" birthday party

My little man turned one today, and we threw him a great party. He loves anything with wheels, so we focused on "things that go".

train and car frosted sugar cookies

semi sized sign

car made from a box

wheel-themed cakes that spin

oreo pop favors with rims

car-themed board book favors for kids

birthday boy loving a new toy

Monday, October 15

one year

This photo was taken about a year ago, when I was two weeks away from my due date with Atlas. I wanted my hugeness documented, but I was too self conscious at the time to share it publicly. I thought I looked too puffy, and even my most accommodating maternity wear was looking tight over my belly. I'm pretty sure the camera had a hard time bringing my face and bump into focus simultaneously. Now I find it amusing. Becoming a mother has changed my perspective in many ways, one of which is what I'm comfortable sharing. I was just shy of 200 lbs.

We're celebrating Atlas's first birthday this upcoming weekend. We decided on a wheel theme - from wagons and bicycles to trucks and trains. My week will be full of party planning and baking. I'm excited. Stay tuned for pics.

Sunday, October 14

wintery grey baby cap

Continued crochet efforts: this warm winter wear is for a cute little one being dedicated today.


Friday, October 12

cat toy

Our cat loves chasing balled baby socks around the apartment, as if we don't lose enough little socks from Atlas removing them himself at odd times in random places. This toy is meant to distract her from the socks... though as I type, I'm noticing a pair in the kitchen by her food dish.

I made a crochet sphere based loosely on this pattern. I started with a magic loop instead of chains so that I could add a bit of cotton batting and catnip as stuffing before tightening it up.

So far it seems to be a hit. Just enough of the catnip comes out to keep her interested, and the yarn catches on her claws without snagging too much. Perhaps when she tires of it, I'll look up a crochet mouse pattern (or make one up) and include an extra long tail for her to chase.

Sunday, October 7

sweatsuit refashion

I bought a big sweatshirt from Walmart at the beginning of the summer (it was clearance on top of already cheap) with a refashion in mind for myself, but I ended up using it to make a cute as pie sweatsuit in about 12-month size.

I am planning to make a Halloween costume for Atlas - a furry creature to be revealed at a later date - and I want to base the design on a cozy one-piece outfit we already have. Since this is my first time drafting a pattern, I figured a practice round would be a good way to start. I opted for the sweatshirt remodel because the half zipper option allows me to avoid any of my own zipper/buttons/snaps. As a result, it's not the most diaper-change-friendly outfit.

I started by tracing the original garment - turned inside out and flattened on a roll of Ikea craft paper. I left room for seam allowances and hems.

The design is super simple - a single front panel cut on a fold, opposite back panels, and sleeves.

I cut the pattern out of the XL sweatshirt utilizing the front zipper, collar, and even the cuffs. It took a bit more time to get everything lined up correctly, but in the end it saved me a bunch of effort hemming and finishing the garment.

I couldn't resist a final touch of style. I had plenty of extra fabric to make little shoulder things - what are they actually called? Anyone?

Add buttons and an adorable almost-one-year-old!

Tuesday, October 2

Pinterest Tuesday: gift wrap edition

It seems like everyone on Pinterest is thinking about wrapping their Christmas presents already. I've seen pins about color coding wrapping paper, photo labels, and using materials other than paper and a handful of others I'll keep in my back pocket. This weekend I tried my hand at a gift bow. It's a bit sloppy, but fun. I also used a fold in the gift wrap to make a card pocket. Clever!

This wrapping paper was $.99 at Ikea, and they carry several other bright colors and a few prints.

Saturday, September 29

outfit for a one-year-old

Have I mentioned how much I love the book Handmade Beginnings? Renewing it from the library just wasn't enough. Last month I made a dress from a pattern in the book for a first birthday present, and I just finished another project for another birthday boy. This little guy's growing fast! He's wearing 24-month clothing for the length, but doesn't fill it out. So I made a pair of 18-month "quick-change trousers" in 24-month length.

These are a simple pattern with an elastic waistband. There is a lot of room for creativity because they are reversible. I went with a basic lightweight grey corduroy for one side, but couldn't resist a bold wacky flannel print for the other.

The gears and bolts in the pattern made me think of wheels (both our boys will spin the wheels on strollers and other toys), but Patrick immediately thought of his dad's cycling interest and helped design and make a onesie to complete the outfit.

Patrick screen-printed one large gear and I appliqued three small ones from the flannel fabric to look like a bicycle.

An embroidered chain completed the look. I'm pleased with how it turned out, but not entirely confident it will hold up very long on a playful toddler. Maybe he'll outgrow it before that's an issue.

Tuesday, September 25

Pinterest Tuesday: pumpkin spice fudge edition

This is a winning recipe for sure! Thanks to my sister, who makes some of the best fudge I've ever had, for finding such a yummy pin!

I love fall flavors, and this rich treat doesn't disappoint. It's so so so delicious. I followed the online instructions perfectly when it came to ingredients and quantities. I even measured my vanilla, and I habitually interpret a teaspoon of vanilla to mean a splash.

The timing was a bit more tricky. I don't have a candy thermometer, so I had to interpret 234 ~ 243 degrees to mean really hot. The mixture did start to thicken, which was a good clue... the recipe also says it takes about half an hour. As a precaution I made one small container to taste test before taking the rest of the batch to share. I've taken incredibly soft set fudge to events before, and while it's delicious, it's a mess and a bit embarrassing. Fortunately this time it turned out perfectly, and our small sampler is going quickly!

Monday, September 24

baby booties on dedication day

Other people who are fluent in the gift giving love language find cute Bible story board books or personalized photo albums or other thoughtful tools for spiritual growth as gifts for baby dedication. But I can't pass up an opportunity to craft. I try to take time while my hands are busy working to reflect on the baby's personality, think of ways to support the baby's parents, and pray for the family in general, but I'm not the most disciplined in that regard, especially if my own little one is around to distract me. I'm equally likely to end up thinking about how accomplished I will feel once the completed project ends up on my blog or what we'll have for dinner.

Our friends' sweet boy was dedicated Sunday morning. This little guy rocks those baby socks that look like converse sneakers, but at the rate he's growing, his little feet won't fit in them for very long. So I pulled my crochet hook back out and found a pattern on Ravelry for the cutest booties ever!

One of my favorite cards from our wedding has a elegant design cut into the front to show a decorative cross pattern. I've been using it as a stencil for many occasions, and today seemed fitting to use it again.

Sunday, September 23

bumble bee cake pops

I loved making chocolate chip cookies when I was young. Part of it was the quality time spent with an adult supervisor on a project I could help with, but I suspect a larger part was getting to eat cookies. One of my first solo baking attempts lives on in family lore as the notorious salt cookies. I still don't know if I added a cup instead of a teaspoon of salt (they were on either side of the same measuring tool) or if I used salt instead of sugar, but yes, they were that salty. It wasn't even worth picking off the cookie part to eat the chocolate chips. They were a disaster.

Salted caramel makes me nervous. It just seems like too much salt for a dessert. I can't commit. However, Starbucks has salted caramel cake pops and I was challenged to make a better version, so I made a first attempt.

My salted caramel cocoa cake pops didn't taste salted. I suppose that's better than too salty, but now I wish I had more culinary courage. Perhaps my next attempt will be more bold. I used a devils food cake (from a mix) and a mix your own can of caramel frosting. I was worried the chocolate would overpower the caramel, so I used the whole flavor packet with only 8 oz of the frosting. It was still very subtle, so I added a caramel swirl with a jar of ice cream topping we had in the fridge. The outer layer was dark cocoa candy melts, and the bee decor was to fit a baby shower theme.

This project came to me at the last minute. It's not that a week isn't a reasonable time frame to ask someone to prepare a dessert for a baby shower, it's that when I'm asked to bring dessert I decide on cake pops, and when I make cake pops they are usually themed. I was pleased with the vision I had for these little guys (a few bees and a busy looking trail on the others), but I was short on supplies to make them happen. Michaels didn't have any dark cocoa candy melts, so I could only make half the batch with what I had on hand.

The other half I decided on a white cake from a mix and vanilla frosting. That seemed too boring, so I added chai spices. Yum! I know chai isn't as universally liked as vanilla, but these pops may have been my all time favorite flavor so far.

I didn't love the bee-scape, and they felt a little sloppy, but they went over well enough at the party.

here come the elephants! next up, Baby M.

I've been looking forward to making a blanket for our friends since they day she announced their pregnancy, and when nursery pictures popped up on her blog, I used the color inspiration to find fabric online. The paisley print is my own obsession but also compliments one of the fabrics they used for nursery decor, and the chevron compliments the angles of the bunting featured in the nursery. I added rows of elephants and giraffes to lend to the infantile quality of the blanket, and also because as a couple they have a huge heart for Africa. I'm pleased with how it turned out.

I purchased more fabric than I needed because I wasn't sure if I would be able to use all the rows of animals. As it turns out, it was cut in such a way that I was unable to use several rows. I'm not sure who would cut through the middle of a row of elephants on both the top and bottom of a piece of fabric rather than shift to include only whole elephants.

So there are fewer animals than anticipated in the final design, but I have enough fabric to make the blanket large enough to cover a full sized crib. Babies of course aren't supposed to use blankets in the crib, but cribs often turn into toddler beds, and in the meantime it's a decent size for a play mat.

I also had enough extra fabric to make a big floppy tote bag. The bottom is reinforced with stiff interfacing and foam, and the sides are covered in generous pockets.

Saturday, September 15

one week out

One week until the baby shower, and I have some hand stitching to finish up. I'm still on track to complete my gift project on time. Here's another preview: