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:

Friday, September 14

blanket in use

Sometimes moms will ask me if they should hand wash the baby blankets I make for them. In a way, it's flattering that they think so highly of my art. There certainly isn't anything we own that gets hand washed for Atlas. On the other hand, it's even more flattering to see a blanket I've made get good use. I've seen this one show up at parks and playdates and even the beach! So cool.

Wednesday, September 12

sweets for the sweet

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting my old office - it's not actually the office space I used to work in, but the people matter so much more than the location. I miss parts of my old job this time of year, so seeing the Linden ladies was nice, and of course I love the attention they give Atlas, even while he tried to knock over their drinks and stick his fingers in their ketchup while we ate lunch.

I brought personalized treats!

This was the first time I made cake pops and didn't eat any. Not one. Go operation lose that pregnancy weight!

I would also like to put in writing (keep me accountable) that I will not be making holiday treats until Thanksgiving. There are occasions between now and then that I'm happy to bake for, but "the holidays" don't count as a reason until they are here. So now when I don't post scrumptious pictures of fudge and cookies for the next two months, you know why.

Tuesday, September 11

Pinterest Tuesday: fall food edition

This weekend I was excited to try out a few fall recipes. I know it's still a little early in the season, but with a storm blowing through and temperatures dropping, it felt right.

The first was for meat loaf muffins, which appealed to me as a concept. I'm not a usual meatloaf maker. It's not something I ate much of growing up. Ground beef was on sale at Safeway and supposedly these little loafs bake in 15 minutes. I was sold.

Unfortunately, it didn't really work out. I don't know if the problem was the recipe I used or what, but my mini meatloafs epitomized the bad stereotype. They were dry and tasteless and ultimately inedible. I'm not even sure how to fix them for next time, so I won't make them again unless someone can recommend a fail-proof recipe for me to try.

The crock pot apple sauce I tried was everything I hoped for. The slow cook method left our apartment smelling of delicious fall spices, and warm apple sauce served with ice cream makes for a great treat.

I reviewed the recipe linked to the pin, and decided to go with my own. I added the peeled and cored apples (10 small), about half a cup of water, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and a splash of lemon juice to the slow cooker. They spent about two hours on high before I added spices. I used a teaspoon of cinnamon and dashes of nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. I was tempted to use fresh ginger root because I had some on hand and love the kick it gives the apples, but decided to stick with the McCormick variety this time. After one more hour in the crock pot, I stirred enough to mash some of the apples, but left the mix pretty chunky. I like chunky applesauce, but I would have blended it had Atlas not been asleep for the night (and prone to night-time wakefulness).

Monday, September 10

granny stripe boutique bag

Update: now for sale on Etsy

My name is Jesse, and I have a crochet problem. It wouldn't be a problem, but my focus on crochet projects has started to threaten my ability to finish a baby shower project in time for the baby shower. So this is the last piece I will post until the other project is complete.

This little Granny Stripe Boutique Bag is quick and easy. The bag pattern can be found on Tangled Happy and the flower tutorial is here, though just about any crochet flower would look nice on this classic crochet look. I left off the center piece of this flower because I liked how it turned out with just the orange.

As cute as this little bag is, it's not practical for anything more than keys, wallet, and cell phone - which is all I need sometimes. However, I think I will adjust the pattern to make a slightly larger bag and try lining it and adding a zipper to the top. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Crochet appeals to me because unlike many of my other projects, it really only requires one material and one tool. Even if I use multiple colors of yarn or multiple gauges of hook, I only need one of each at a time. So my work space can be anywhere - no need to spread out across the floor where curious babies and attention deprived cats wreak havoc on organization. No need for an ironing board or pins, another set of hazards to little ones. No noisy sewing machine to wake Atlas from a nap or Patrick in the middle of the night (when many of these projects get their finishing touches). I can set it down and pick it back up again without missing a stitch. It's the perfectly simple medium for a currently complicated life.

Saturday, September 8


So I started on hats, and I just can't stop! Also, Ravelry is the best thing ever. Free patterns!

Tuesday, September 4

Pinterest Tuesday: crochet edition

I started following someone's crochet board on Pinterest, and while I haven't repinned many images (in part because I can't decide to put them on my "sew" or my "craft" board) I was inspired to try my hand at some crochet flowers. I used the bulk cheap yarn I had sitting around, but maybe if I get a little better with some practice I'll buy some nicer stuff in more colors to decorate some fall hats and scarves.

Saturday, September 1

quilt in progress

Just wanted to post a little preview of the project I'm working on for a baby shower this month. I'm on track to finish it on time, which hardly ever happens!