Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hmmmm, this is a very pinteresting PARTY!

It's here!  It's finally here!  The highly anticipated and much talked about premier of the Very Pinteresting Party!  Whoop, whoop!

So.  Here's the deal.  Have you made a project inspired - in total or in part - by something you pinned on pinterest?  (And don't go acting like you don't know what I'm talking about.  I know you're as addicted to pinterest as I am.)  If so, you've come to the right party.  Link up your pinspiration here!  The overview:  I will share the pinterest project I've tackled this month, in photos here in the party post.  You, too, will share yours by linking to the party.  
Starting next month, the Very Pinteresting party will start on the first Thursday of the month and continue until the END of the month, i.e. the LAST Thursday, at which time I will highlight several projects from that months party AND post pictures from my own project.  If my project was inspired by a pin, but changed enough to warrant it, I will post a tutorial for the pinspired project the next day (or the day after that...)
I reserve the right to share my pinspired projects at a different time if so deemed appropriate.  But I'll always open and close the party and feature projects on the same days.

I ask only two things from you who want to link up:
1.  Link to the POST, not your main page.  I want to be able to find your incredible projects.
2.  Put my button somewhere.  Anywhere.  Invite everyone to come.  A party's more fun with more people!

<center><a href="http://bugaboominimrme.blogspot.com/"><img src=" http://i799.photobucket.com/albums/yy276/kbmueller/MKFpGS-1.jpg" /></center>

And that's it!

SO.  Here's my project du jour...
This month, I chose to emulate this lovely little sweater refashion from Homemade Ginger.
                                                                       Source: homemadeginger.com via Kimberly on Pinterest

Adorable, right?

Ready to laugh? 
Attempt 1:
Got this far, then threw it in the trash.  (Sorry for the crummy phone pic.  It wasn't worth editing...)

Well, except the arms which I made into fuzzy little legwarmers for the girl.  Just a note, when you copy someone, don't expect your project to have the same results if you don't use the same materials.  Duh.  When I went searching in my stash for some sweaters to upcycle, I couldn't find a single one I really liked the looks of. Which is weird since I know for a fact that I have about 2.3 million (or so) sweaters down there somewhere.  So I grabbed this one.  BAAAAD idea.  It's made out of that soft stuff those fuzzy socks are made out of... what is that stuff?  Well, whatever it is, it does NOT refashion well.  

Attempt 2:
Much better.  mr actually complimented this one - twice I think - ON HIS OWN.  Like without me saying, "Hey, look I made this! (ps, this is where you get really excited and tell me how awesome I am...")

I liked it very much.  ALTHOUGH, I DID sew the first cuff on inside out and had to cut it off and retry, which made the cuffs slightly smaller than I'd wanted.  They're also kind of stretched out... any suggestions for how to avoid that?

BUT, it wasn't quite right, you know?  I liked it, it was nice and simple and straightforward, but... it just wasn't THERE yet.

Attempt 3: 
I found it!  Finally, when searching for something completely different, I located the sweater I knew I had somewhere that I was positive would be perfect for this project.  It was a wool sweater I'd already accidentally shrunk, so it was nice and felted - which made it really easy to work with.  Even though I'd shrunk it, it was still too big for mini, so I did have to recut and sew it down to her size.  I even had some leftover pieces to add the ruffles in front - like my inspiration!  

It isn't perfect, by any means.  I need to take the shoulders and collar in a bit.  You may be seeing some alterations and a tutorial for the second attempt later on.

So, round one was a success!  Thank goodness.  And it only took three tries.

If you want some sweater refashion inspiration, along with some very helpful particulars, see these as well:
                                                             Source: iammommahearmeroar.blogspot.com via Kimberly on Pinterest

                                                                           Source: makeit-loveit.com via Kimberly on Pinterest

                                                                      Source: happytogethercreates.com via Kimberly on Pinterest

                                                                    Source: kimboscrafts.blogspot.com via Kimberly on Pinterest

So what did you make???

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Yes, I'm patting myself on the back.

Remember that confession a while ago about how I was actually posting OLD Yummy Monday dinners so that I could get them up before 11 pm, and therefore get some kind of relaxation on a whirlwind cooking day?  It's been working really well, I'd say.  Most of the time you wouldn't even know it, except when I talk about leftovers and how my kids actually ate them (or refused to)...  and I don't have to shop, cook, set the table, take photos, eat, clear, bathe children, put them to bed, edit photos, upload photos, blog, type up recipes, add wit and dry humor you all appreciate so much, and then finally drop into bed.  I feel pretty good about that part.
The one problem with this system, is that I often find my recipes while at the grocery store - sitting in my car on my phone... which means that when I do get around to blogging the photos and recipes, the recipes are generally lost because I forgot to bookmark them in any way.  It's ridiculous.  Hey, wait a minute... that's what pinterest is for, ISN'T IT???

Anyway... you can imagine my delight when after ages of scouring the web for the correct Chocolate Orange Torte recipe, and almost giving up entirely and giving you some faker recipe and passing it off as the right one (I would NEVER do that...) I finally, FINALLY found it.  Or maybe you can't imagine my delight.  Your imagination probably doesn't do that gleeful...

In any case.  I found it.  You're welcome.  I also found the dinner recipe, which was Asian Orange Chicken (and it wasn't as difficult, surprisingly, considering all the asian orange chicken recipes there are out there...)

Orange you glad I searched until I found them for you???  (Oooo, I know.  Clever, right?)

So, here is your very orange-y dinner.  First up, Lightened up Orange Chicken, from Cordon Pink.

Orange Chicken 

  •  Chicken:
    1 lb Skinless Boneless Chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
    4 Tablespoons Flour
    Salt and Pepper
    1 Tablespoon Vegetable or Canola Oil
    Steamed Broccoli
    1/3 Cup Orange Juice
    ½ Cup Rice Wine Vinegar 
    ½ Cup White Sugar
    2.5 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
    1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
    ½ Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
    2 Teaspoons Corn Starch
    1 Tablespoon Red Pepper flakes 
    Add flour, salt and pepper to a medium ziplock bag.  Add chicken and toss until all chicken pieces are evenly coated.  Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet.  Add chicken pieces and cook for 3 minutes until browned on one side and then turn over and cook another 3 minutes until cooked through. Turn heat down to very low and add enough sauce to fit your tastes. 
    Mix corn starch into orange juice until lumps are gone.  Add orange juice mixture and rest of the ingredients together in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon – about five minutes.  If it doesn’t get thick, then add a little more cornstarch dissolved in water. 

This was very tasty.  The recipe itself looks kind of complicated at first glance, but it's not too bad.  You could serve it over noodles or rice - I chose rice.  I also added chunks of orange to the sauce at the very end - right before it was serves, so it got mixed in with the sauce, but not too mushy and hot.  It's yummy enough to try again.  

Now, have you ever tried those chocolate oranges that come out in the stores around Christmastime?  The kind you tap on the counter and the sphere splits into wedges?  (When I was a kid, that was the best part - better than actually eating it.)  This is a CAKE that tastes like THAT.  I know, right?!?  It's Chocolate Orange Torte from Yummly.

Chocolate Orange Torte

2 1/4 OZ slivered almonds
4 Oranges
20 Oz Double Chocolate Muffin Mix
1 C sugar
Heat oven to 375° F. Lightly coat a 9-inch round cake pan with vegetable cooking spray.  Finely chop the almonds. Grate 1 teaspoon orange zest from one of the oranges and cut strips of zest from another to use for garnish. Squeeze 1 1/2 cups juice from the oranges.  Prepare the muffin mix according to the label directions but substitute 3/4 cup of the orange juice for water and blend in the chopped almonds and grated zest. Pour into pan. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool torte in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar and the remaining 3/4 cup orange juice. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. To serve, spoon the sauce over the torte and garnish with the orange-zest strips.

Ok.  So mine is NOT the prettiest version.  I had a little sinkage happening on top.  BUT, taste's more important, right?  And do you SEE all that gooey chocolate-y goodness?  Mmm.  
Was it worth all the insane work to come up with the recipe again?  Yes, I do believe so.  Make good use of it, people.  You're welcome.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

I'm the Backpack, loaded up...

with things and nicknacks too.  (Bonus points if you sang that, then finished the song on your own...)

I'll admit it.  I was never a big Dora fan.  I mean, I know I'm a little too old to have gotten into the craze as a kid, but I did my fair share of babysitting.  Lots and lots of babysitting.  And therefore, some TV watching (because that's what babysitters do best, right?).  And out of all the cartoons that kids can watch these days, Dora is not at the top of my list.  

Let's digress for a moment.  There ARE some banned cartoons in my house.  Yes, BANNED.  For instance, Teletubbies.  Also, Barney.  Can't stand it.  I literally have a gag reflex when I see the bad acting.  (Call it my training and experience if you like, bad acting makes me sick.  Even in kids' shows).  And the number one banned show in this house?  Yo Gabba Gabba.  I'm sorry.  I know there are many of you out there who love that show.  You make your kids' all the little plush figures and throw awesome Plex Parties and stuff... but that show is like a BAAAAAAD acid trip stuck on hyperdrive.  A combo of crazy meets ludicrous on steroids.  Honestly, all these shows did was make me wonder what happened to the awesome TV of my youth.  What about 3-2-1 Contact?  What about Mathnet??  Thundercats???  Storylords? She-Ra, Princess of POWER!!!!  Dora just can't live up to them.  But alas, she is not banned.

And now that I've sufficiently aged myself, let's get back to the matter at hand.

My daughter loves Dora.  I blame my niece.  mini will walk around attempting to sing the theme song.  She can recognize "doe-wah" on any kind of merchandise within a 5 mile radius and she will let everyone in earshot know it.  She thinks that a backpack is actually called a "backpack backpack" and will only say it in duplicate, even when talking about backpacks that look nothing like "Backpack Backpack."

And this is where the tutorial begins.  Because mini is obsessed with Backpack Backpack.  She loves him, right down to his creepy smile and "yum, yum, yum, yum, yum - delicioso!"  I knew she needed one for Christmas.

I did some research.  I could buy her this one:
which she couldn't really comfortably carry on her back, or this one:
which was a whopping $50.  Ain't no way. 

And at that point I stopped researching, said screw it! (more or less) and decided to make her one, even if it came out all wonky.

And you all are the fortunate recipients of my wonky backpack endeavor!  Oh, I know, you're so lucky.  

Actually, though, I'm kind of surprised that it turned out at all, considering I didn't have a pattern or anything and left it until two nights before Christmas.  I'll just give you the rundown first, and then add some notes at the end.

1.  Locate purple fleece that looks all crazy marbled at JoAnn's Black Friday Sale.  Yes, you must be insane enough to brave the Black Friday Sale.  And stand in line for an hour and a half.  And buy the weird mottled fabric because "darn it, it's close enough."  While you're at it, you should also get some coordinating-ish cotton, like a fat quarter.  
2.  Also, a bit of red felt cut into a gigantic mouth shape, super duper large google eyes, white velcro, and 4 D rings.  That's 4 (four) D rings, not 4-D rings.  If you were confused at all.  What exactly would a "4-D" ring be?

3.  Draw yourself a plan.  If you're like me, the messier and more confusing the better, since you really do just make this sewing stuff up as you go anyway.  What the devil do most of these notes MEAN, anyway?

Ok, just skip the messy artist's renderings.  I've done that step for you.  You will need to make four casings - these will be part of the straps.  Make them out of your cotton material.  Two casings should be about 11" by 2.5" and the other two should be about 6" by 2.5". 

4.  To make the casings, cut out four pieces of cotton fabric of each dimension listed above. Pin two rectangles right sides together.  You'll end up with four skinny, long rectangles.
5.  Sew all around the rectangles with a straight stitch, making sure to leave one short end open.
6.  Pull the casings right side out.  Use a long dowel or knitting needle if you need to.
7.  Tuck the unsewn edges in.  Iron the whole thing flat.  Top stitch around the outside of the casings.

To continue making the straps, you will need to make two casings from your fleece that measure approximately 9 1/4" by 3".

8.  You'll make these casings the same way you made the others, essentially.  First, cut four pieces of fleece of the dimensions above.  Pin two rectangles right sides together.  Sew with a straight stitch all around the rectangles, leaving one of the short ends open.
9.  Turn your casings right side out.
10.  Now, stuff your casings.  Cut four rectangles slightly skinnier than your casings and almost the same length.  Mine were about 9" by 1.5".  Layer two together and stuff them into a casing.  (Each casing has two little padding rectangles).
11.  It will take some shimmying, but stuff them all the way to the end and make sure they are lying completely flat and straight.  Iron the whole thing.  Trim the stuffings if you need to.
12.  Stick one of your long cotton casings into the open end of one of your fleece casings.  Pin all along the fleece to make sure the inner stuffing won't move.  Make sure to pin the cotton strap securely as well.  Do this with both.
13.  Top stitch all around the edges of the fleece casing.

14.  To make them look even more like backpack straps, and to keep the "padding" snug, sew one straight stitch down the center of each backpack strap.

Let's make the flap!  You'll need two pieces of fleece approximately 11 1/4" wide and 10 1/2" from the straight edge across to the outermost point on the curve.  You'll also need a strip of velcro - the scratchy side - at about 3".

15.  Pin the flap pieces right sides together and sew all around, leaving a small opening in the middle of the straight edge.  Turn it right side out.
16.  Tuck the edges along the opening inside and topstitch all around the flap.  Pin your velcro piece to the curved part of the flap.
17.  Sew the velcro, all the way around it, with a straight stitch.
*SPECIAL NOTE: had I been thinking, I would have sewed the velcro piece to one of the flap pieces FIRST.  THEN I would have continued by sewing the two flap pieces together, right sides together and then flipping them right side out and topstitching.  That way, you wouldn't be able to see the velcro stitching on the top side of the flap - see PICTURE 18.  But obviously, I wasn't thinking.  Or following my messy instructions up there, because I CLEARLY noted that before I even started.  Or not so clearly...

On to the bag!  We're making a simple drawstring because I am afraid of zippers.  You'll need two pieces of fleece approximately 15.5" by 10.5".

19. Pin the long sides of your fleece pieces, right sides together.  Use a straight stitch to sew the long sides.  Leave the short sides open.
20.  Fold the top edge of the bag down to decide on the width for the casing around the bag. Mark where you want your two openings in the front of the bag to be.  Cut two small vertical slits parallel to each other about two inches apart or so right in the middle of what you want to be the FRONT of your bag.  (you can just BARELY see the slits in the middle of the part that's on the bottom in picture 20 - if you SQUINT really hard.
21.  After you cut the slits (which you can see a little better in this picture) fold down the top of the bag and pin all around.  Iron.
22.  Use a straight stitch to sew the casing all the way around - don't worry about leaving an opening.

23.  Take your smaller cotton casings (the ones that have NOT been sewn to the straps) and tuck them inside the backpack, pinning them to the bottom edge.  Make sure the backpack is still WRONG side OUT.
24.  The casings should be just barely sticking out of the bottom, with the majority of the casing actually inside the bag.
25. Sew across the bottom with a straight stitch.  Backstitch over the straps just once while you are sewing across.
26.  Flip your backpack right side out.  Slip two D Rings (that's two D rings, not 2-D rings...) onto each casing.  Fold the end of the casing over once, then fold them down over the straight side of the D rings.  Sew straight across, backstitching a few times for security.

Your bag's looking a little flat.  Let's give it some shape!

27.  Turn your bag inside out.  Lay it down on it's side.  Pull the bottom corners up to make triangles.
28.  Stick one of the corners in your machine with the side seam facing up.  
29.  Your bottom seam should be in the middle of the back side of the triangle.  (Just to give you an idea of how you pull the corners out to sew them).
30.  Sew straight across at the bottom of the triangle.  You can go as far in or out as you'd like - the larger you make the triangle, the larger your bottom will be.  Well, not YOUR bottom... the bottom of your bag... you know what I mean...  Do this on both sides.
31.  Cut off the triangles on the outside of the seams you just sewed.
32.  Now your simple bag as a bottom!


33.  Turn your bag right side out.  Pin the felt mouth in place on the front (this is the side of the bag that has the slits in the middle of the casing, remember?)
34.  Sew around the mouth with a straight stitch.  
35.  Pin and sew the other side of the velcro (the soft side) just under the mouth.

Ok, now we're really almost there.  I swear it.

36.  Pin your flap to the back of the bag - on the outside.
37.  Sew straight across, staying as much on the topstitch you already sewed around the flap as possible.  Make sure the velcro piece is facing DOWN.
38.  Pin the straps just below this, on the back of the backpack.
39.  Sew straight across each strap, staying as much on the topstitch you already sewed around the straps as possible.
40.  Now you've got a flap and straps!
41.  Slid the casings from the straps into the D rings on the backpack casings to close the straps.  Now your straps are adjustable!

Would you believe me if I told you we are super close to the end now?  To finish up, you will need three scrap knit strips that are about twice the length of the diameter of the bag opening. If you don't have that, just use some kind of rope or something.  I like to use knit strips for almost all of my "strings" when I make bags that cinch.  They look cool and I have them just lying around.

42.  Take your three pieces and pin them together to something stationary-ish.  Braid the whole length.
43.  Put a safety pin in the other side as well.  The braid should be thin enough to slip through the slits you cut in the casing.  Thread your braid through the whole casing, using one of the safety pins.
44.  Tie VERY LARGE knots in the ends so the braid won't slip out.
45.  Glue on your ginormous google eyes.
*SPECIAL NOTE: after gluing on my google eyes, and more closely inspecting, I realized that not only were they not really ginormous, they looked kind of ridiculous in relation to the mouth.  So, either you need to find WAY bigger google eyes than I did, cut your mouth smaller, or just use white and black felt to make the eyes.  I do believe I will be replacing the google eyes with felt eyes soon because the proportions are just bugging me.

And there you have it!  See, I told you we were almost done!  Now you can admire the front, back, face, and inside of your easy CHEATER backpack.  The easy cheater backpack for which you bought the fleece on super Black Friday sale so the whole thing cost you about $6.  That's way better than $50.

The fact that all the little cousins new exactly what it was when they saw it and spontaneously burst into song - without prompting:

was simply icing on the cake.

Now, a note about the measurements.  I am giving you these as a guideline.  My daughter is a smallish-average sized 2 year old and this backpack is a bit large on her - especially the straps.  You may want to measure your child first and then sew the straps to fit.  I wish I'd made mine a little shorter, but it'll do.  I guess it'll just fit her for longer now.  The biggest thing I wish I'd done differently (besides those already mentioned in bold up there): Sew the straps a little closer together than I did.  There really only needs to be a few inches separating them - I mean like TWO.  That way, they will sit higher on the shoulders and will be less likely to slip down.  She still wears it and loves it, but I wish I wasn't constantly fixing her straps for her.  

ALSO, and IMPORTANT: I was planning to put a little side pocket on and make her a map, too.  Then I totally forgot to make the side pocket (because I left it off of my plans, up there) and was kind of sad.  I didn't have time to make her a map, so I guess it was ok... although I think I'll still make her one later.  The point is, I think it would be SUPER easy to add a side pocket.  Just cut a little fleece rectangle and round the bottom corners.  Make it bigger on the top than on the bottom.  Sew a small casing in the top.  Add thin elastic through the casing.  Then only sew ONE long side of the bag part, pin your pocket on the right side and sew around the curved bottom.  If you want to, you can tuck the edges under and top stitch it so the edges look finished.  Then you can turn it back inside out and sew up the other long side of the bag.  At least I THINK it would work...  Maybe I'll have to make another one...

And even though most of our photo shoot looked like this:

I swear she loves it.  At least, she better.

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

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Whew!  I am late out of that gate tonight!  I had a last minute sewing emergency involving a certain 4 year old and an irresolvable incongruence about whether tomorrow is white day or purple day at school...

Anyway.  Are you ready to see some

First, I'd like to share a little pinaholic confession.

Bye Bye Birdie fans out there?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?  Ah, well.  I can't help it, I still think of old school letter sweaters, poodle skirts and saddle shoes when someone talks about pinning someone.

First in our "very Pinteresting" list, I'd like to share something I pinned a very looooong time ago - so it defies the whole "things I pinned this week" rule (which isn't really a hard and steadfast, anyway, more like a guideline).  I can't help it, I have to show you because recently - like within the past two weeks it's gone positively VIRAL.  In my opinion, anyway.

This simple yet ingenious little housewarming gift idea was pinned from Just Make Stuff.  It's gotten 1319 repins and 248 likes from my pin alone.  It's pretty cool.  I admit.
                                                                          Source: justmakestuff.com via Kimberly on Pinterest

I found an awesome blog to follow because of pinterest.  It's called Remade Simple.  And it has ridiculously cool projects on it.  Like this cook bottle vase art thing.  Which I believe she calls "Wall Mounted Vases" because it sounds better.
                                                               Source: remadesimpleblog.blogspot.com via Kimberly on Pinterest

Ok.  This isn't quite the same as my normal pins, but I just have to show you this.  It's probably one of the most useful and coolest sewing related things I've pinned lately and it will definitely turn me into a circle skirt making machine.  MACHINE, I tell you.
                                                                       Source: pattythesnugbug.com via Kimberly on Pinterest

SUPER cute Valentine's Day gift idea for your main squeeze.  I know, they aren't always super sentimental, but this idea seems easy to do with some very cute results.  You're allowed to make him be sentimental once a YEAR, right?
                                                                        Source: elsajuliet.tumblr.com via Kimberly on Pinterest

And this quote?  I think I'll print it out and hang it by my sewing machine.  For weeks like these that just get me down.  Without dumping you with unnecessary emotional baggage, I've had a hard week.  Ever get the feeling that nothing you do will measure up to anything worthwhile, let alone the amazing things you see other people do... let alone you're a blob of a mom who can't do anything right... let alone you're just plain tired and don't want to get out of bed?  Let alone, you use so many run-on sentences and repetitious phrases your English Lit. professor would cringe?  Well, if so, then try to remember this:
                                                             Source: spirituallythinking.blogspot.com via Kimberly on Pinterest

Are you gearing up for the 31st???  Yea!  What???  What's on the 31st, you ask?  Only the most pinteresting party around!  Yep.  Come link up anything you've made that was inspired by something you pinned on pinterest!  I'll be showing something off, too!  (Hopefully...)  
This first party is on a Tuesday, to give me more time since I totally procrastinated.  But usually, we'll do the party on a Thursday, AND here's the big news.  Ready?  Ok, it's not that big.  Get excited anyway.  I've decided to open the party up on the FIRST THURSDAY OF EVERY MONTH.   Then people can link up their pinteresting creations ALL MONTH LONG!  Then on the last Thursday, not only will I show off MY pinteresting creation, but a few others from the party as well!

Phew.  Glad I finally pinned that down.  Bahahaha!

I need bed.

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