Sunday, September 12, 2010

Oversized Ruffle Tote

I stumbled upon this pattern from Parasol Co a few months ago and just had to make it. I purchased a few yards of quilter's cotton on sale at our local fabric shop and had at it. The directions attached with the pattern aren't the most helpful, but it does include a nice graphic of how the pieces fit together. I added a patch pocket to the interior to help keep track of all those little necessities that will inevitably get lost otherwise in such a large bag.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Toddler Pumpkin Costume

So I don't know about anyone else's toddler, but mine is obsessed with pumpkins. Not just Jack-o-lanterns, the kid loves pumpkins. This year he decided that is what he'd like to be for Halloween. I was excited since I wouldn't need to make another elaborate one-time-use costume again this year. I decided to go for a two-piece pajama style costume made out of cotton jersey. Since the local fabric store failed to have orange jersey (or any color that was reasonably priced, for that matter), I got everything I needed at Michael's.


small plain white or orange t-shirt (for your child)
large plain white or orange t-shirt
1 box orange rit dye (if you are using white shirts)
black fabric paint & brush
needle & thread
pattern for toddler pajama bottoms

If you are using white t-shirts for this project, dye fabric according to the instructions on the box. Draw or print out a Jack-o-lantern template for your child's shirt. Carefully paint the pattern on the child's shirt according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Lay the adult shirt flat on the floor. Lay out the pattern for the pants so the bottom of the legs sit 1 to 2 inches below the hem of the shirt (this eliminates the need to hem the pants). Cut the pieces from the shirt and assemble according to the pattern instructions (omitting the hem).

For the hat, I cut just above the hem, making a dome shape that was as tall as the sleeve. Then, just sew along the dome. (Note: larger heads may require an additional shirt. You will want to cut the dome from the bottom seam of the t-shirt. Make sure you check in advance whether the sleeve will be sufficiently large for your toddler's head. If not, make sure to add an additional shirt to the dye bath).

Here is the finished outfit, made from white T-shirts. I don't think he'll wear his mask, so I plan to knit a green stem to add to the hat. He's going to be a cute little pumpkin!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chocolate Almond Ice Cream

Warm weather is here, so it's time to start making ice cream again. I braved my first chocolate recipe, adapted from If you love amaretto and chocolate as much as I do, this recipe is for you.

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 cup half and half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
(or 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla liquor)
1 tsp almond extract
(or 1 tbsp almond liquor)

Whisk sugar, honey, and egg yolks until well combined.
Heat cream and half and half over medium heat until hot, stirring frequently. Gradually whisk 1/3 of hot cream into egg mixture. Return cream with egg mixture to the stove. Sitr cocoa into the liquid, and continue heating until slightly thickened.

Whisk together cream and eggs with sour cream and extracts (if using liquor, do not add at this point) until well combined. Chill thoroughly for several hours or overnight.

When mixture is chilled, add to ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. When ice cream is nearing a soft serve consistency, mix in any liquors (this, along with the honey, will help prevent a hard freeze) or add ins. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cute & Custom Magnets

For the past several months, I have been calling an office cubicle home for 40 hours a week. It's a nice little cube, not too small and several nice storage features. If I could pick one thing to complain about, it would be that the walls of the cube are made of metal which makes it very difficult to decorate. Magnetic picture frames are nice, but what do I do when I want to hang up a memo or a treasured piece of toddler art? Scotch tape only holds for so long...

I looked around online for magnets and if you are looking for something with decorative appeal expect to pay for it! I found some attractive magnets from iPop on - for ~$3 PER MAGNET!!! You can also find several crafters on selling handmade magnets with a similar appeal for around $1 a piece. After reading through the descriptions at this site, I decided that I could make these myself and get the graphics I liked at a better price. It turns out these are really fun to make as well.

Several disc magnets
Flat bottom clear marbles
Strong, clear drying glue
Scrapbook paper

1) 2) 3)

Select your favorite printed paper. Keep in mind that the print should be small enough to display behind your marble. The paper and ink should be strong enough to resist bleeding when you apply the glue. Position the marble on the paper where you like it, and trace the outline. Cut inside these lines (the paper does not need to reach past the edges of the flat surface of the marble). Place a drop of glue on the paper and drop the marble on top (you don't want to smear the glue around if there is any concern that the ink may bleed). Press the paper firmly against the marble. Cover the back of the paper with glue and press the magnet onto the back. Smooth the edges of the paper against the marble. Press the marble and magnet together for 30-60 seconds (or longer depending on the glue you have selected). Wipe the clear surface with a damp towel to remove any excess glue. Once the glue has cured, use and enjoy or give as a gift to a friend. These would be great given as a gift to a coworker, for a housewarming, or as favors at a baby shower.

In the photos:
1) Excess scrapbook paper (previously purchased on clearance at Michael's)
2) A print-out of my son's first paining (you may notice some blurred ink)
3) Excess scrapbook paper (small butterflies were punched separately)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Nuts & Berries Buttercream Frosting

So once again I was looking for a way to fancy up a box of cake mix... chocolate this time. Since I have a bottle of chambord, I thought raspberry frosting and oh what about the half dozen bottles of various extracts sitting in the spice cupboard? Nuts and berries frosting it is! (OK, I confess. I didn't have hazelnut extra, but almond works too right?)

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp Frangelico or 1/2 tsp hazelnut extract
1 tsp Chambord or 1/2 tsp raspberry extract

Cream butter until smooth and light. While mixing at medium speed, slowly add powdered sugar. When combined, add liquor. Whip at high speed unitl thick and creamy. To adjust consistency, add a tablespoon of milk or powdered sugar while whipping until desired consistency is achieved.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

T-shirt Jewelry

So Body + Soul magazine had a great upcycle idea this month - t-shirt necklaces. It was actually quite fortuitous, as the husband had just decided to purge the closet of his worn out t-shirts.
The process is quite simple and needs no special tools (or any notable skill for that matter), although a rotary cutter and cutting mat are preferred to scissors.

1) Cut out several 3/4" wide strips from the bottom of the t-shirt (discarding the hem)
2) Pull the loops taught, causing the raw edges to curl in
3) Use a scrap of material from the t-shirt or otherwise to wrap the loops together at the seams (if any) and tuck loose end of scrap under itself (I wrapped the loops once before binding in order to make a shorter necklace)

I also applied to same method to the sleeves and made a bracelet:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Simple Valentine's Pancakes

So for Valentine's day I wanted to make a special treat for my boys. I have some pancakes molds but they are such a pain to work with. I tried out an experiment that turned out really great... after letting the batter sit on the griddle momentarily, I pushed a cookie cutter through, let it rest on the griddle briefly (about 10 seconds), and then pulled straight out of the batter before it began to set. When I flipped the pancakes over there was a clear outline left... a simple upscale to Sunday morning pancakes.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


One of my secret childhood dreams was to become a jeweler. I came across some old jewelry today that I made back when I had the time and resources to do such things. A few of these items I still wear upon occasion, but most of them are rather tarnished.

'Harvest Moon' - This is the only piece I ever officially named. I believe this is a carnelian cabochan set in silver. The band is made of half round wire and wrapped with brass.

Left: Copper necklace with glass and plastic beads
Right: I believe the center cabochan is garnet, the outer moonstone, set in silver. I intended to work this into a y necklace but never did.

Silver slave bracelet with what may be ametrine cabochans. The silver pendant at the end was purchased.

Left: Brass cuff bracelet. The mold was made from melting a plastic fork.
Right: Copper and brass dress pendant.

A fossil I found at Lake Michigan, lightly polished and set in brass.

Silver labradorite ring alongside a silver heart "charm" bracelet.