Thursday, January 31, 2013

Who doesn't love a good Ombre Monster?

I was determined to DIY a baby shower gift for a shower I went to (months ago...).  It was the first time I did so, as I usually just use the registry to be on the safe side.  I figured, if I could DIY a wedding gift, I could screw up my courage and make something for a baby.  And I did.

 Now, I'm fully aware that there's nothing new about freezer paper stenciling.  If you want a full tutorial, and a good one at that, you can go to I Am Momma.  Perfect explanation.  For my purposes, I figured I'd give you a brief rundown and share my painting technique.

I started with blank white onesies, which you can get just about anywhere.  I got 3 onesies in 3-6 months and 3 onesies in 6-9 months.  I figured everyone gets the newborn ones and then the baby is only in those for about a month before they grow out of them... The baby I was making these for was due around Halloween and happened to be a BOY.  That determined the theme I went with...

I found some cute overlays on picmonkey (obviously before picmonkey started charging, but you can maybe still use their overlays for free?  Or google clipart images.  Or try the overlays on ipiccy).  I used monsters for the 3 month onesies and monograms and stars for the 6 month onesies.  
So.  I just saved them to my computer, resized them the way I wanted, and then printed them on normal computer paper.  I lay a piece of freezer paper, waxy side down, on top and traced the image.  Then I used an exacto knife to cut out the image, saving the negative space pieces where I needed it to be white (i.e. the mouth and eye shapes).

Then, you just iron it onto the shirt.  No steam.

This little product is your best friend when freezer paper stenciling.  Turn any paint color into fabric paint!  Yea!  You know if you try to paint on fabric with normal paint it will get hard and crusty and likely fade, right?  Not that I've tried that...

So, you just follow the directions on the bottle and mix a bit with your paint choices, and then start painting the space inside the freezer paper.
To get an ombre look, I started with the lightest color, then added the darker color to the lighter color with the fabric medium a little at a time until I was just using the darker color alone.  
See what I mean?  For this fun "G" (love this font) I started at the top of the stencil with a light green, then slowly mixed in a bit of dark green and painted my way down.  The bottom of the g is only dark green with no light.

For this one, I started with the outer ring and painted it gray.  The I added a bit of black and painted the inner ring, then used just black for the G. ("G" for their last name, by the way)
This one I used a stipple brush to make it look faded and worn.

 I ombre-d the monsters too.  My favorite is the one in the middle.  I don't know exactly what they are eating (I added that myself, it wasn't in the original images) but I think it's cocoa puff cereal.

The little star onesie has a surprise on the bum.  I just couldn't resist.

Then, for more funsies, I threw in some hats I made from t-shirts, using my easy hat tutorial.

As you can see, some are slightly bigger than others to allow for growth. (I love that one with multiple knotted strands out the top).

Then I found a box just the right size, matched each hat to the onesie it went best with, rolled them up together and placed them all in.

I made little labels and named each "collection".  The labels were hand painted by bug.  The little gray things under the first label are baby mittens I made out of part of a sweater.

And that's that!  They were a hit at the shower!  I have requests to do a personal tutorial for a few friends from church!

I didn't save all the images I used, but here is the star arrangement from the all-star onesie if you'd like to use it to pattern your own.

Want more freezer paper stencil ideas?  Check out my "B is for Book" Bag, Lucky Dog T, or the other baby gift I made.  But be warned, two of those posts were before I started caring about my photos.

I had so much fun, I wanted to make my own.  But my kids are a bit old.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On fuzzy hearts, bracelets, and bribery. (And a free printable!)

I've been tossing this idea around for a long time, now.  I actually made a few of these quite a while ago, but had little chance to take some finished photos with the gloomy, RAINY and then snowy days we've been having.  (The weather here is completely indecisive and I'm pretty sick of it...)

In any case, if you're looking for a super simple and inexpensive little gift to whip up for Valentines Day - either for your child, your child's class, or the kids in your play group - I've got a cute little idea for you.

They're so fun and easy to make, it'll take you no time at all - despite the fact that I once again only have poorly drawn illustrations to guide you.

1.  Cut two strips of red felt at about one inch by four inches for each bracelet.
2.  Place a hair elastic overlapping the end of one of the felt pieces by about half of the elastic.
3.  Put the other felt strip on top - sandwiching the elastic between.
4.  Stitch around the whole thing with a straight stitch.  (Although it looks like there're some stitches missing, I assure you, there are stitches around the whole thing.)
5.  Hand sew a little button to the end opposite the elastic.
6.  Cut out some felt shapes.  I used hearts for the girls and arrows for the boys - Valentine-y without the mushiness.  Then cut two slits in each shape.  The slits should be slightly longer than 1 inch and should run parallel to each other about 1/2 an inch apart.
7. Slide the felt shape on your strip - up through the back of the shape, across the front, then down through the front on the other side.
8.  All you have to do to clasp your bracelet is use the button/elastic closure!  Easy shmeezy!

I printed out some cute little cards to complete the Valentines.

I had a hard time coming up with something that was cute, appropriate for felt bracelets and Valentine-y.  This was the winner.
Because felt is fuzzy, right?  Right???

Anyway, just print up the cards on card stock, cut them out, use a craft knife to cut two parallel slits, slide the sides of your bracelet into the slits and voila!  
You can clasp the buttons behind if you want:

 Or just leave them flat.

And the best part - in my opinion - is that these are totally interchangeable.  Just cut different shapes for different occasions, add the slits and slide them on.  It's like a felt charm bracelet!  You could even include a few extra felt shapes in a little "felt charm bracelet kit" if you wanted to!
The ideas are flying now... 

The perfect little gift from cupid to your little friends!

And here's the printable version of the card for your personal use!

Don't those little hands up there make YOU all fuzzy inside???  Don't let it fool you.  You know I bribed them.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I'm becoming British. Would you like some fish?

This morning I woke up and straight away realized I had completely forgotten to post anything for Yummy Monday last night.
I then realized I was thinking things like "straight away" and next thing you know I'd be panicking about Mrs. Patmore "skinning me alive" for some other food faux paux.  Which led to the realization that it's probably good mr is back from his work trip since I've begun talking to myself with a British accent.
So.  Sorry about my lapse last night.  Whoops.  No excuse, I'm just loosing my mind.
Tonight I thought I'd share something a little different for Yummy, er, Tuesday.  Instead of sharing a meal, entree or dessert with a tried and true (or completely failure) recipe, I'm sharing with you an idea I recently had for our "super quick, we've got meetings tonight and I'm way too tired to put any effort into dinner" dinners.

Our children love fish.  LOOOOVE fish.  It's kind of weird, but I'm not going to question because maybe that means they're going to be brilliant.  Brain food, and all...
So when we're making a quick dinner, almost as often as we make grilled cheese (or maybe more-so, now that I think about it) we toss those frozen breaded fish fillets in the oven.  I know, it's a travesty.  You thought I always made wonderful dinners with four courses all garnished to perfection, didn't you?  Well, now you know the truth.  My family eats like kings one night of the week and that's IT.

Back to the fish.  I realized it was boring.  And maybe the kids were ok with that, but I was getting tired of it.  And then I realized, there was really no reason I couldn't fix that fish up in super easy ways that would not only make it a lot LESS boring, but also use mainly ingredients we almost always have on hand AND only take the amount of time that the fish are actually in the oven.  Perfection.

First up, Dill Tartar Sauce.  If you like your tartar sauce sweet, you will hate this.  Just putting that out there.  I like tartar sauce both ways, but went with dill since that's what looked good the other night.

The recipe for "on hand" Dill Tartar Sauce follows:

Dill Tartar Sauce
1/4 C mayo
1/4 C sour cream
3 dill pickle midgets plus 1 tsp dill pickle juice
1 green onion
3 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp dill
1 tsp garlic salt

Now, you can make this two ways, and I prefer the first way, though the second way is faster.
1.  Chop the pickles and the green onion very fine.  Put everything in a bowl and mix it up really well.
2.  Put everything in the food processor and us your chop button on a pulse.  
(This makes it a little runnier, so you might want to make adjustments.)

Now, if dill tartar sauce isn't your thing, I've got another idea for you.  Perhaps you like avocados and pomegranates?  I threw some fresh items we had in the fridge all together into a kind of fruit salsa that I decided I really love.  We are less likely to have all of these items on hand, but still usually have most of them.

Pineapple Pomegranate Salsa
1 ring of pineapple (from the can)
1/3 C pomegranate arils
1 avocado
2 small tomatoes
1 T fresh cilantro
2 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
pinch of cumin

Chop the pineapple, avocado, tomatoes, and cilantro.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

And just so you know, this is really good on chips too.

Now, if pineapple pomegranate salsa isn't your thing, then you can just use what my kids use:

And if buttermilk ranch isn't your thing... well, I guess you're just beyond hope.

I hope I've helped you solve your boring fish woes.  By the way, you don't have to use these ideas on frozen breaded fish fillets.  Nope.  You can use actual real fish.  Just bake your fish up really super simply - in a little butter or oil with a sprinkle of Foxpoint from Penzey's Spices - or something.  Then add the above.

I mean, that is, if you aren't lazy like us.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why I Should Not Be a Model. (And a skirt how-to)

I'd been searching and searching for a knee length denim skirt for pretty much ALWAYS.  They don't sell them anymore.  Anywhere.  At least not in my budget... maybe that means I shouldn't be wearing them?  Like it's a sign that they're not stylish?  Whatever.  I still wanted one.  During a trip to the thrift store not too long ago, I found an ankle length denim skirt, which is NOT what I wanted, but I thought I'd give it a chance, especially since it was getting cold out and maybe ankle length was the way to go.
Ankle length was NOT the way for me to go.  Have I told you before that I'm short?  It's true.  I'm short.  That ankle-length skirt was actually a floor-length skirt pooling around my feet, drowning me in fashion faux paux agony.  I could just hear Clinton and Stacy's comments... and they weren't kind.  
However, it fit perfectly through the waist, hips and bum, which is nearly impossible to come by.  I decided I'd keep it and make it work.  I wasn't going to share a full tutorial on this, because it seemed WAY too easy and I didn't take pictures as I went... but then I realized there had to be other short ladies out there who were passing up cute, nicely fitting skirts due to length and I decided why not share some poor computer-generated drawings for you in tutorial form?  Yes, why not indeed.
Shortening a skirt without making it LOOK as if you've shortened it is actually really, really easy.  Really.  You don't even have to hem it.  No, seriously.  I'm serious.  There is NO HEMMING INVOLVED.  Because as you know, I hate hemming.  So really, anyone can do it.  Even my crummy little machine could handle the task, and that's saying something.  Ready for the poor drawings now?  Ok.

Firstly, try your skirt on and mark where you want the skirt to end.  Just put a little pin in it.  You'll want to mark it just below your knee to give yourself some room for seam allowance.
Take your skirt off and cut it straight across at the point you marked, then
cut the hem off of the bottom about an inch above the stitching.
 (You can get rid of that middle section now.  Or turn it into something cool.)  The yellowish green lines above designate the unfinished edges, as I'll be referring to them below.

Ok.  Now, turn your existing hem piece inside out.  Pull it over the bottom of the skirt, lining up the unfinished edges and the side seams.  (The lavender piece above is the hem piece.) Once it's all lined up, pin it in place.  Now use a straight stitch to sew around the whole thing.
Flip the hem piece down, so that the skirt is lying flat and the hem piece is now right side out.  You may want to iron it at this point, but honestly, I didn't.  All you have to do is topstitch around it.  Stick close to both the line you already stitched AND the stitches from the existing hem that may be visible.

 See?  This is the bottom flipped up so you can see where I originally sewed the hem part to the skirt.  The black stitching is the straight stitch AND the top stitch from the underside.

And here is the bottom hem piece flipped back down the right way.  Now all you see is the hem that already existed.  You can't really even tell where I sewed it on.

And that length is MUCH better for a short girl like me.

So.  Let's recap.  
The 4 steps to shortening a skirt (that anyone can do) are:
1. Measure and mark.
2. Cut, cut.
3. Sew.
4. Topstitch.


Here's a close-up of the top stitching.  You can see I tried to stay really close to the stitches that were already on the hem.  Looking close, even the blue thread is visible, but you really cannot tell unless you're staring at it from a few inches away.  And if anyone's face is just a few inches from your hem line, well, that's just weird.

And THIS?  This is why I should get someone to model for me.  And why I should NEVER try to look "serious" or give a "knowing smile."  Just thought I'd share yet another fail, since I seem to be on that kick lately.  Ha!

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Monday, January 21, 2013

And mr. said, "She's an excellent baker..."

Last week I decided I was tired of trying to figure out what to make every single Monday and wondered why we ever stopped taking turns with that task.  Was it because of my mom's disgusting hot dog decision?  Maybe.  I'll blame her.
So I tossed my phone all opened up to the pinterest ap to the mr and told him to find me some recipes.  "Whatever looks good" I believe were my exact words.
3 hours later, ok - that's a slight exaggeration - but he really did take a short eternity looking through every single pin - and apparently that's my board with the most pins - he came back with a main course and a dessert.  We'll talk about the main course later.  Tonight is about the dessert.

Long ago - so long, in fact that I don't even remember doing it - I pinned this:
                                                             Source: via Kimberly on Pinterest

I mean, super cute, right?  Little individual pineapple upside down cakes?  Yes!  Please!  

I hopped on over to Big Mama's Home Kitchen where I studied her post about Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes in depth.

When you see something like this:

cooling off on the rack, you decide to go for it, am I right?  So I told the mr no prob and got to work.  

Everything according to plan.  Recipe easily reconstructed.  Clear instructions to follow.  Looked like perfection going into the pan.

I could taste the pinapple-y goodness already.  The minutes ticked down on the oven and my mouth started to water.

I had to cook them slightly longer than the recipe stated, but no matter.  I brought them out of the oven and surveyed their golden-y deliciousness, sniffed their yummy made-from-scratch-scent.

Following the directions, I placed the cooling rack over the cupcake tin and flipped everything upside down.

And that is what happens when you start to get cocky about your baking abilities.  Just last week mr was telling some friends what an excellent baker I am...

I served it to everyone anyway.  At least it tasted good.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!
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