Saturday, November 26, 2011

Star Crossed Slouchy Beret

I have been wanting to make a slouchy beret for a long time. This Knitpicks Gloss HW was the perfect yarn for this project. The pattern is by Natalie Larson.This was my first time trying the  Long Tail Cast On method. I love the look of it and will use it more often.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reusable Sandwich Wrap

Lately, I have been feeling guilty about all the plastic baggies I throw away. My husband takes 2 sandwiches for lunch at least 3-4 days a week. I have been going through the baggies like crazy. With the prices going up, I decided to look into sandwich wraps. I thought wraps would save more space in a lunch box, instead of those tupperware sandwich containers. I found an adorable wrap from But when I got it, I decided to save it for my son, when he starts bringing his lunch to school. I was worried that the bread would not stay fresh overnight in the fridge, since I make my husband's lunch the night before. But these would be perfect for a peanut butter and jelly, that only needs to be kept fresh for a couple of hours. I will be looking into other snack bags for the boys to keep their chips/crackers in. My husband is now using the plastic sandwich containers. I have more dishes, but I feel a little less guilty...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Plastic Zipper Bags Reused

I love when I buy bedding, and the comforter or sheets come in a sturdy, zippered pouch. I don't have to feel guilty about throwing plastic away, and I can use the bag to organize something. For those of you who knit or crochet, these pouches make great project bags. You can also use them to store balls of yarn or knitting accessories. They're perfect because you can see through them. Typically, bags like these can start around $9-12-plus shipping per bag. Before I had a sewing machine case, I used a large comforter bag to protect my machine from dust. I have my glue gun and glue sticks in one, my husband's hair clippers (with attachments) in another, and I made a first aid kit with a smaller one. These bags would even work to keep toys organized-blocks, puzzle pieces, fridge letters...etc.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My First Wreath

I did not intend to buy a wreath when I went into Joann Fabrics, but when I saw these feathers, I could not resist. Yes, I am a copycat. My friend has a gorgeous, white feather wreath that I have been admiring. Not much work here. I just wrapped a few embellishments around it. In the middle of the white feathers, is a hair clip I never wear.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sham-Style Pillowcase

I love the sewing tutorials at Prudent Baby. They are so easy to follow. This was really fun to make, though it could have been a little shorter. The tutorial is for a king-size pillow, but I used a standard. There are directions for adjusting the measurements, but I'm more of an "eyeball it" girl. Head over to Prudent Baby to try the DIY Sham-Style Pillowcase.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cupcake Decorations

There are so many cute cupcake decorations out there, but all they are,  is paper glued to a toothpick. So why not make your own? Any scrapbook embellishment will work. I attached die-cut birds to a toothpick using yard sale stickers. You can also cut out little pennants and use a glue stick to hold them together.


Pinwheels are really easy to do. They make a cute outdoor decoration for backyard parties, or a nice table decoration in a vase. And best of all, the kids get to play with them!
Here's how I do pinwheels:
double-sided scrapbook paper
push pin
pinwheel kit, or a straw and a small brad

Step 1.  Cut a square (mine is about 6 x 6)
Step 2.   Lightly draw a line from corner to corner, across the square. Repeat from other corners.
Step 3.     Cut along lines, being careful to stop about 1/2 in. -3/4 in.  from the center.
Step 4.   Start at the top left corner and gently bend toward the center. Repeat with each left corner.

Step 5.    use the push pin to poke a hole in each corner (not too close to the edge) and through the back.
Step 6.  remove push pin and assemble your pinwheel using the kit, or use push pin to make a hole an inch from the top of a straw, and insert brad into to the center of the pinwheel, and then through the straw and secure. This method will not create a spinning pinwheel, but it still looks cute.

Asher's 1st Birthday

Asher's birthday party did not have a real theme to it, but I knew I wanted to do something with pinwheels. I thought they could double as decorations and favors for the younger kids. It worked out perfect cause it was super windy that day. I incorporated the birds because I had a ton of leftover die-cut birds from my wedding favors. I know...I'm a pack rat. I feel so guilty throwing certain things away, if I know I could use it for something else some day. I found lots of tutorials for pinwheels, but the ones I tried were really stiff and didn't spin freely, so I ended up ordering a pinwheel kit from Oriental Trading Company. I will post how to make simple pinwheels out of double-sided scrapbook paper later.

For the Banana Cupcakes with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting go here. The fudge cupcakes are from a box, but I took vanilla frosting and stirred a little peanut butter in. It was very yummy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting is one of my favorite cakes, but not everyone likes it, so I decided to make something chocolatety to go with Aiden's guitar cake. I'm not a huge fan of dark chocolate, but these are so moist, it didn't even matter that they were not super sweet. They were a big hit. Devil's Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Frosting.

Aiden's 5th Birthday

I got the idea for this guitar cake from Parents magazine. It was made from a 9 x 13 slab of cake. Cutting, piecing it together, and frosting it was a little stressful, but my son went nuts over it. The decorations are made from candy. I got the instructions from a recipe card that came in the magazine, but when I tried to look it up on the Parents website, I couldn't find it. I did find a really cool version on the Betty Crocker website. You can find the guitar cake here. I love these chinese take-out containers for favor boxes. You can buy these at Michael's craft store. My husband jokes that they look like favors for a vampire's birthday because of the colors. Inside the favor box, I included a candy maraca and a toy harmonica. Tied to the box, is a rock candy sucker. I really wanted custom birthday invitations, but they are so pricey. I usually make my own out of whatever scrapbook paper or card stock I have around the house.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Italian Beefs

                Time to break out the crock pot!
As much I love to cook, I also love those days where I'm too busy to cook and I get to use my crock pot. I love coming home and having dinner almost ready. Here is an easy italian beef recipe that can be stretched to feed a crowd. I make these for birthday parties, but when it's just me and my husband, we have enough for 2-3days.
Sirloin Tip roast-  2.5-3.5 lb. (you could use another cut,but this is the leanest)
2 cans beef broth
12 oz. jar Vlasic deli style mild pepper rings
1 packet Lipton onion soup mix
1/2 packet of McCormick au jus gravy mix
provolone or mozzarella slices (optional) 
green peppers and onions cut in strips (optional)
crusty sub rolls (I prefer Turano)

Add roast, beef broth, half of the pepper rings(more if you like) and all of the juice from the jar, lipton soup packet, and half of the au jus gravy packet (this should be enough but you could always add more later). Cook on low 6-8 hours. The roast should be so tender it falls apart when you touch it with a fork. Shred the meat with forks and discard any fat. Add meat back to the pot. Saute onions and peppers in olive oil. Toast the outer side of your rolls in a 350 degree oven. Toast until they are just starting to get crispy. Fill the rolls with meat, onions, peppers, then top with cheese. Brown sandwiches, open-face under a broiler. DO NOT TAKE EYES OFF SANDWICH! It only takes a few seconds. I burned the edges on a couple of mine. Or you can skip the broiler and just melt your cheese in a toaster oven or turn the oven up to 400. Serve with a cup of the au jus.
When serving a crowd, I skip the cheese, onions and peppers. I set out kaiser rolls and untoasted sub rolls cut in half. People can dish up their own sandwiches.
Leftovers can be reheated in a saucepan on the stove. For something different, you can drain the meat, add BBQ sauce, and leave off the onions,peppers,and cheese for BBQ beef sandwiches.Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Play Kitchen Revamp

A generous friend gave me play kitchen to fix up. I was so excited when I saw it because my son loves to play "chef". It needs a little paint and a few adjustments, but it has lots of potential. I already have tons of ideas. Here are some before pictures. As I start working on it, I will show the progress.

EASY Pillowcase

I found the EASIEST pillowcase tutorial at Make It and Love It. Ashley always has the simplest instructions. I am not very experienced when it comes to sewing, so this was perfect for me. You can find her tutorial here.

Cheaper Curtains

Recently, I saw a brilliant tutorial for striped curtains on Prudent Baby. My older son's room had been without curtains for months, but I was having such a hard time finding any I liked. I had been drooling over the gorgeous fabrics from fabricworm, but not willing to pay for 4 yards of fabric, plus shipping. Monaluna for Birch Circa 60 Beach Mod was just what I was looking for. The tutorial shows you how to use half yards of designer fabric and an inexpensive sheet to make your curtains and save money. I was not able to find a sheet in a color I liked, so I ended up using muslin, which cost more, but I had a coupon at Joann fabrics.
Sorry about the lighting. Was not able to use natural light.
Jacinda's version had grommets, but I was not brave enough to try these. It was mostly because I didn't wanna have to buy better looking curtain rods. So I stuck with my standard 97 cent ones. Instead of the usual pocket that goes all the way across the curtain, I made tabs in the back, modeled after my favorite IKEA curtains. If I make these again, I will post a step-by-step tutorial. Here are Jacinda's Striped Grommet Curtains.

While I was at it, I decided to reorganize Aiden's room. He has one of those beds with the built-in bookshelf, but his books are so thin, that they fall between the bed and the wall. So instead of fishing them out all the time, I decided to find a better way to store them. I put then in storage boxes where he could still reach them, on top of his toy bin. The toy bin is from IKEA.

Let's see how long this neatness lasts.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Costumes of Halloween Past

 I know Halloween is over, but I wanted to get these costumes documented for future reference. Last year's costumes were some of my favorites. For a Halloween party, I got a great idea for a Raven costume from Martha Stewart. I don't think the host of the party liked me too much when I left though, cause I left feathers all over his house! Oops!You can find the Raven here. For Trick-or-Treat with the kids, I got a fun family costume idea from Parents magazine. My baby was a hot dog and I was a hot dog vendor. My older son had asked to be french fries (his favorite food) so it worked out perfect. To complete the look, I had my mom ( such a good sport) dress as a fountain pop. No way in the world,  would my husband have walked around the neighborhood in this get-up! You can find the hot dog and vendor here. To make the fry costume, I used an old diaper box, cut out holes for the arms and head, and decorated it with poster board. I used  yellow fleece and stuffing to make the fries.  My mom's costume was a felt tunic that was pinned together (too lazy to sew) and a paper plate covered with wax paper. The straw was made out of a paper towel roll.  I attached a headband to her headpiece.
  When Aiden was 3, he was totally obsessed with Yo Gabba Gabba. He wanted to be Muno, a big red cyclopes. But at the time, the show wasn't really popular yet, so there were not many Gabba costumes around. I did see a DJ Lance, Foofa, and Brobee costume, but no Muno. I found some red fleece and just traced a pair of pjs onto it. I had to sew the costume by hand because it was before I had a sewing machine.t When Aiden saw the costume, it was worth all the work. I used fabric glue to attach the red pompoms. When sewing the huge eyeball to the headpiece, I added some stuffing to give it more dimension.
  One of my favorite classic horror movies is The Birds . I saw a costume on Roseanne many years ago, where Darlene was dressed up as the main character from the movie. So I got an idea to make a costume like that in 2007. I searched high and low to find fake birds, but for some reason I had a hard time finding a lot in the same color. So I decided to use all different types of birds. I found some with clips attached, and they stuck perfectly to my nylons. It looked like the birds were attacking my leg. I used a huge crow for the top of my head. I had to end up sewing it, because the hot glue was not strong enough. I wasn't able to find an outfit exactly like Tippi's from the movie, but I did find something appropriate at the thrift store.If you look closely, you will see I added some birds to my shoe. The year after, I saw that Party City was selling a Birds costume, but I thought mine was more fun. :)


My husband makes a great Nosferatu!