Thursday, November 21, 2013

Corduroy and Plaid Dress

It's been a long time since I posted anything. I was kind of surprised that my last post was only three months ago. It seems like it's been longer.

I have been crafting, as usual. I've had birthdays and Halloween and Christmas prep. Also, I've been doing NaNoWriMo - again. And I started a new blog about writing, though I've been slacking a little there, too.

Alas, this is always my busiest time of the year. The time of year when I do too much. And then add a little more on top.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to try to post some of the projects I've been doing over the last few months (and maybe even the year - who knows).

Today, I'm sharing this cute little dress I made for my niece, who is one and adorable (adorableness kind of goes without saying, but I'm saying it).

So, last Christmas, I promised my sister I'd make her little girl a dress...and then I forgot. And because she knows how busy I can get, she didn't say anything. But then I remembered a couple months ago (pre-Halloween), felt terrible and put it on my "To Do" list.

On Sunday, I finally got around to it.

I used McCall's Pattern # M5791, which I've used once before...years ago! It was the first dress I'd ever made. I liked it - but I think this dress turned out much better.

I constructed the little pinstriped section down the front myself.... (fabric and flower buttons from JoAnn's).

And then made the skirt longer with the plaid panel at the bottom.

I also only looked at the instructions once or twice to make sure I had the seam allowances right. Proof that I kind of know what I'm doing now. Huzzah for me!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Truffula Tree Tutorial

 I was asked to make these Truffula Trees as decorations for our ward's girl's camp - as their theme was "Oh, the Places You'll Go" from Dr. Seuss.

There were a couple of challenges here: I needed to make them as cheaply as possible and they were supposed to be outside, so I figured they needed to be semi-weather proof.

These two requirements ruled out some of the options for the top part of the tree that I had found online (feathers and tissue paper, for example).

I suppose the idea I ended up with came from piñatas. I wanted to have something with movement but couldn't figure out how to do it! And then I thought about piñatas and how the tissue paper is cut for the store bought ones. It makes them fluffy. It makes movement. How would I do that? How could I make something like that without using tissue paper?

Figuring it out was a true "Aha!" moment, and here's how I did it:

For the Paper Mache Tree Top:

~ Flour
~ Water
~ Lots of Newspaper
~ 17 Inch Balloon

Who gets the newspaper anymore, right? I certainly don't! I got mine (and I needed A LOT, because I made 10 of these things) from friends in my ward and a trip to the recycle bin by the mailboxes for some good 'ol fashioned recycle bin divin'. The community papers that everyone gets (and no one reads) were perfect! And abundant! Though the weekly ads also sufficed. Stay away from ads where the paper is super shiny. That paper won't work! Plain newspaper works best.

I had to special order the 17 inch balloons. I needed something more rounded (and bigger) than the standard 12 inch balloons they sell at the store. I got the special outdoor display balloons ( and they worked great! Though now I have 62 of them left. (I will never need to purchase big balloons ever, ever again.)

Paper Mache Glue Recipe:

~ One part Flour
~ Two Parts Water

My container was kind of small so for me this meant 1 Cup water and 1/2 Cup flour. A wire whisk works great to get all the lumps out.

Dip, remove excess glue by sliding the paper between two parallel fingers and apply to your balloon. It's super easy! And, surprisingly fun (though by the eighth one I was watching Doctor Who through Netflix on my iPhone to combat the monotony while I was working).

Paper Mache Tips:

~ Try to find a work space that stays at roughly the same temperature all the time. The air inside the balloon expands and contracts according to the room's temperature. It can crack your paper mache if the balloon expands or cause it to wrinkle if the balloon contracts.
~ Longer strips worked the best (8-10 inches)
~ You'll need to do 4 to 5 layers.
~ Alternate your strips between vertical and horizontal with each layer. It helps you keep track of what layer you're on.

Once you've completed your last layer and allowed your paper mache to dry thoroughly, deflate the balloon and pull it out through the hole. I cut the hole a little bit bigger with some scissors (only about a 1/4" or so).

Note: I had a couple of tree tops crumple when I deflated the balloons. There's no need to panic if that happens to you! Just gently pop the globe back out to the right shape (I used the PVC pipes I had on hand to do it since the hole was so small) and add another layer or two of paper mache on the weak spots to strengthen the structure of the globe.

For the Tree Fluff:

~ Plastic Tablecloth
~ Scissors
~ Hot Glue Gun & Lots of Glue

I got my plastic table cloths at Party City (they were 3 for $5 - score!). One table cloth will make two Truffula Trees (add that to your bank of useless knowledge).

Lay it out lengthwise on the floor, still folded the way it was in the package. You should have four 'layers' of plastic. You'll need to cut the folds on both sides by sliding your scissors between the layers (one side you'll cut through just one layer of plastic, the other side will be two) so that you have four separate layers when you're done.

Then cut the layers into strips about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in width. I was able to get five strips from each table cloth.

Fold your strips in half lengthwise, twice. Cut little strips along one side of the folded strip to a little beyond the midpoint of the strip. Continue cutting strips until you've reached the end.

The next step is to glue the frills to the paper mache globe.

The number one thing to remember here is that you want the plastic to lay flat!

You'll need your trusty scissors again to cut slits in  the plastic on the uncut side of the frill so you can make your straight frills fit your round object. I found that near the center, there is less need for this.

Just know that if you have puckers, that's when you know you need to cut a slit.

For the Trunk

~ 3/4" x approx 5' PVC Pipe
~ White, Yellow & Black Acrylic paint
~ Electrical tape

I tried spray painting these (didn't work!). Acrylic paint worked great though. 

I marked off the portions of the pipe I wouldn't need to paint - the bottom, which would be driven into the ground and the top, which would be inside the balloon. Then I did a layer or two of white paint over the writing on the pipes before painting the yellow. I still needed several layers to cover everything. Then I used black paint for the finishing touches.

Drive the short unpainted end of the PVC pipe into the ground and put the globe on top and you're done!

I really enjoyed doing this project after I figured out how I was going to do it. 

Making the fluffy tops was my favorite part!

From Instagram:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A little something I'm working on this month....

I'm so excited to be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I really need me some good 'ol fashioned kick-you-in-the-pants motivation.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easy Salted Caramel Brownie Bites

 This was today's baking experiment and it turned out pretty well!

Easy Salted Caramel Brownie Bites

What you'll need:

~ 1 box of your favorite Brownie Mix
~ Coarse Sea Salt
~ Mini-muffin pan liners (I got my foil ones at Walmart on super-after-Christmas-clearance)
~ Approx. 1/2 pound of Caramels (try your local bulk foods retailer)
~ Approx. 1/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

Mix up your brownie mix according to the packaging's directions and fill each mini-muffin cup to about three quarters full. Bake in 325 degree oven for approximately 19 minutes (or until a clean toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean). Let cool.

Meanwhile, unwrap your caramels and put them in a stainless steel saucepan with the 1/4 cup of whipping cream. Turn on heat to low and occasionally stir the caramels until they've melted. Remove from heat.

'Frost' your mini-brownies with the caramel and add a pinch of sea salt to each one, gently pressing the salt into the soft caramel (otherwise the salt may just fall off).

And that's it! Easy and delicious!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Halloween 2012 - Tinker Bell & Rapunzel

Still  working on stuff I did last year... Someday I will catch up. But I'm finally getting around to the Halloween costumes I made for the girls last year. 

Miss Tinker Bell herself.

I didn't plan as well this time, so instead of getting done a month early, I was literally hot gluing flowers to Madeline's wig the DAY OF Halloween. I'd only finished Madeline's dress the day before. My stress level was pretty high. In my defense, I was a little distracted with my infant son, but this year I'm determined to start and finish early again!

I used McCall's pattern number M4887 for the fairy dress and made my own pattern for the wings, using the method outlined in the pattern (I thought the wing pattern included was too round!). I also made some bloomers that go to the knee to wear underneath the dress, which you can sort of see in the second picture from the top - those weren't part of the pattern either. 

For Rapunzel, I used Simplicity pattern number 2065. I didn't bother making the yarn wig. I just bought a long blond wig from Amazon (and glued flowers into it, as I mentioned earlier). 

With the wig.

Did I mention this is an adult sized wig? And it STILL didn't quite fit. My child has the biggest head ever.

Trick or treating. 


Friday, February 15, 2013

Minnie Mouse Cake

This was my very first commissioned cake. I made it for my friend Becky's adorable little girl.

I was worried about the added pressure of making a cake for someone else (hello, perfectionist Stacy in overdrive) but it was no. big. deal.

I hope she likes it!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

DIY Valentines

We usually don't do anything for Valentine's day, but this year we were invited to a Valentine's Day party (!), so I decided to step outside my comfort zone and make some Valentines!

Madeline and I combed over my Valentine's day Pinterest board and she wanted glowsticks! (What kid doesn't, right?)

There were a couple of examples of the ones with a 'heart' - I decided to make my own in Inkscape (you can have a generic one for free HERE). Some scissors, two hole punches and a glowstick later - voilà, homemade valentines!

For Evie's, I came up with something of my very own! Since I usually don't have good paper-craft ideas, I was very excited about this.

All you need is a balloon and a piece of ribbon. One hole punch at the bottom and pull the opening of the balloon through the hole and tie the ribbon around it.

You're probably wondering, "Why Green?!? It's Valentine's Day!" Well, I just happen to have green and white balloons for a little someone's upcoming birthday party and I'm too lazy to go get different ones....

Besides, green's awesome, if you didn't already know.

All that matters is that my baby likes 'em, right? This face says it all.....I think...

The best part? I have printables for this one, too! In many colors! 

Happy Valentine's Day!

 Free Balloon Valentine Printables: Green, Blue, Purple, Yellow, Orange, & Red.