Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tiny Tinkerbell


I love my shy little girl.

Miss C. opened up her Tinkerbell costume on Christmas morning and was so overwhelmed by her excitement that she quickly shoved it back into the box and turned away in shyness.

I wasn't too worried; just a few moments earlier she had run away and buried her face in the couch when she opened her gift from her buddy Darth Vader. (Believe it or not, he's a pretty thoughtful guy. Somehow he knew just how much she'd like a lightsaber of her own.)

I spent the rest of the morning watching my little Tinkerbell bounce around the house in her pretty green costume, her earlier shyness forgotten in the excitement of Christmas. I love that something I made with my hands can bring such joy to my little girl.

And I love that I can feel such pride in how it turned out. I really stepped outside of my comfort zone on the project, mastering new techniques like the rolled hem feature on my serger and creating an enclosed elastic panel on the belt.

Our trip to Disneyland is just a few short weeks away. First on the agenda is picking up an official pair of Tinkerbell wings. Then we're off to Pixie Hollow so Miss C. can meet Tinkerbell and show off her pretty costume. I'm already excited!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Tinkerbell: A Sneak Peek

Back in November, Miss C. and I were video chatting with my best girlfriend and her little girl, Miss K. They had just returned from a trip to Disneyland and the girls spent the morning chatting online about Miss K.'s adventure.

They talked about Miss K.'s favorite rides, which princesses she met and her favorite parts of the trip. But the big topic of discussion between our 3.5-year-old girls was Miss K.'s Jesse costume. She had dressed up as Jesse for Halloween and wore again at Disneyland. You can imagine just how excited she was when she got to meet and have her photo taken with her heroine.

We got offline and Miss C. says to me, "Mama, when we go to Disneyland what costume and I going to wear?"

I asked her if she'd like me to make a costume for her and her eyes got a little wide when she said, "Yeah!"

A few weeks later, we found ourselves flipping through pattern books at JoAnn so she could pick out a Disney costume for our upcoming Disneyland trip. She passed right over the princesses and immediately pointed to the little girl in a Tinkerbell costume. "I want to be Tinkerbell."

Tinkerbell it is, sweetie.

So here go, a little sneak peek at her Tinkerbell costume. What you see is the satin petal skirt, with a sparkly chiffon underskirt and four layers of tulle beneath. With the exception of a little bit of top-stitching, this is the first garment I've sewn using my serger. I love how it makes the inside seams look so neat and tidy, and of course I can't get over the rolled edges on the underskirt and tulle layers. It really gives a professional touch to the entire garment.

I told myself I'd finish it by Christmas so she could open it up on Christmas morning. There are just a few more details left to finish: the hook-and-eye closure at the back, a yellow satin belt and securing the elastic at the waist. It's not meant to be a surprise because I've needed to try it on her several times to check the fit, but I'm okay with that.

The first time she tried it on for a fitting her voice sounded a little breathless when she said, "It's so pretty..." I can only imagine what she'll say on Christmas morning!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Master W.!

Last weekend we celebrated Master W.'s first birthday. When it came time to choose his birthday theme, I knew I had to find a way to incorporate his adventurous personality. One of his favorite activities is destroying Miss C.'s carefully constructed castles. (Miss C. isn't always a big fan of this activity, but most times she's willing to play along by building him something tall to destroy.)

Master W. is a miniature Godzilla these days, so a monster theme was the natural choice. First on my list was creating the design for the invitations and goodie bags. I just love how my monster trio turned out, especially the big guy holding the balloon.

Once the invitations were printed, addressed and posted to the mail I turned my attention to the party favors. What do you give six kids ranging in age from 2 months to 3.5 years old? After a little Googling, I hit upon a party planning gold mine: Juicy Bits, an amazing blog filled with handmade lovelies. One of the posts was about a monster-themed party she threw for one of her kids. At one point in her post, she has a photo of a small handmade monster; that's when it hit me...

Plush monsters... mmmm... yes, the perfect party favor for little Master W., Miss C. and friends.

Later that evening my first little monster came to life, and a few nights later I had a half dozen furry friends ready to party. Each little monster was made using scraps of furry fleece, cotton and felt. I assembled the monster bodies using my sewing machine and hand-stitched the faces. I can't help but think they're the cutest bunch of little monsters I've ever seen!

Miss C. helped assemble the goodie bags, giving each young guest a pack of crayons, some monster coloring pages (printouts of Mike and Sully, Grover, Cookie Monster, and a couple other less-than-scary monsters), stickers, a few bags of Goldfish crackers and their very own plush monster.

Almost everything was done by Friday morning. The only thing I had left to do was make the cupcakes. Now let me just say for the record that I did my homework and picked what I thought was going to be a slam-dunk cupcake recipe. Ummmmm... not so much.

I pulled the first dozen out of the oven and immediately knew something had gone very wrong. They were flat. They were greasy. And they just didn't taste right. I knew something was amiss when the recipe didn't have me cream the butter and sugar...

This, of course, put me behind schedule. I was supposed to have two dozen cupcakes baked and on the cooling racks by the time the kids finished napping. Instead, I had a dozen cupcakes in the trash and was furiously scouring the web for a new recipe when Miss C. woke up.

New recipe in hand, Miss C. and I whipped up a small batch of vanilla cupcakes in record time. Thankfully, the new batch came out perfect. Whew! A few minutes later, Master W. awoke from his slumber and we had to head out the door to pick Hubby up from work. So while I had finally found a good recipe, I still only had half the cupcakes made and I was quickly running out of time the night before the party. Eek!

Fast-forward through dinner and bedtime for the kids and the last batch of cupcakes went into the oven right after the kids conked out. I spent the next couple of hours frosting (the first cupcake recipe may have been a dud, but the accompanying buttercream recipe was incredible!) and decorating each one and sunk into bed around 11:30 p.m.

All in all, the party was a great success. The kids had a blast chasing each other around my in-laws' house and the adults enjoyed hanging out and catching up over lunch.

Happy Birthday, Bubby! I love you!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Figgy Goodness

My best girlfriend, sweetheart that she is, gave me a bag of fresh figs about a month ago. And I, smart girl that I am, pureed and froze them knowing that I wouldn't quite get around to using them right away.

I watched those sweet little gems as they swirled around my food processor and wondered just how in the heck I was going to use them in a recipe.

Then it hit me: fig newtons. What could be better than a homemade version of that chewy cookie bar I grew up adoring?

After a little Googling, I decided on a recipe I found on The Boastful Baker. To be perfectly honest, the photos of the cookies are what sold me... Oh yeah, and the recipe seemed pretty easy too.

Grocery shopping complete and pantry full, I decided on Friday that this was going to be the weekend of the fig newton. I made the cookie dough that afternoon and the filling that night. The cookies came together Saturday night and were, well simply delicious.

It's not just that they're better than store bought. They're different.

Oh, and The Boastful Baker was right... something magical happens to them overnight turning a once delicious cookie bar into something divine.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quilt 2

I must have been feeling rather zestful when cutting fabric for Quilt 1 because once I had a quite a bit left over by the time I was finished piecing the quilt top.

I did end up dipping into my stash again for a few new fabrics to round out the quilt, but I think the end result was quite fetching.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Project: Destash

I used scraps from my stash to create the top and binding on Quilt 1.
A few months back I found myself staring at the overflowing baskets of fabric in my craft room. How in the heck it got so out of control?

I could tell you that it's not my fault. That I'm not a sucker for the remnant bin. That I didn't squeal with delight every time my mom gave me a bag of scraps and yardage leftover from school projects. I'd be lying, course.

Sure, my fabric collection started out innocently enough. It used to consist of a small pile of scraps left over from various completed projects. Over the years that small pile has steadily grown and multiplied, slowly taking over my craft space. What used to be contained in a few baskets on a bookshelf now spills over onto my desk and into bins below. 

I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed by it. Deep down, I knew I'd never use it all on projects for myself or my children but I just couldn't bring myself to give it away. What if – *gasp!* – I needed it for something?

My mom and I picked out this bright pink print for the backing.
A week or so later, I was sitting in Sunday Mass listening to Fr. George's homily about using our gifts to help others. I remember thinking that as a mother of two small children I'd be hard pressed to find time to volunteer. 

But then I realized something: I can sew. And I have this huge (at least by my standards) stash of fabric just waiting to be turned into something special.

That night, I googled charities and sorted through a mountain of fabric. Most of my stash is made up of juvenile prints, so baby blankets seemed like a good place to start.

That's all fine and good, but why not make things a bit more... interesting? So, I decided to add a few rules to spice things up a bit:

  1. Every blanket must be a quilt. Of course, I just recently fell in love with quilting so this should be fun!
  2. Every quilt must include fabric from my stash, but can be augmented by new fabric if necessary. I can't wait to use up all of those itty bitty scraps I've been saving for who-knows-when!
  3. Every blanket must be machine quilted by – *gulp* – me. Okay, so this is going to take some practice!
  4. At least one blanket must be hand quilted. This is more of a long term goal of mine. I've always wanted to learn how to hand quilt, so I'm looking forward to this one.

I finished the first two quilts a few weeks ago and sent them off to a local charity. Future posts will include a bit more about the charity, as well as photos of finished baby quilts.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lemonade

A few months back, my mom came across this awesome vintage juicer when cleaning out her kitchen cabinets. She asked me if I wanted it, and of course I couldn't resist keeping a part of my childhood.

I can still clearly remember stretching up on my tip-toes, trying to pick oranges from the tree in our backyard to make fresh-squeezed orange juice on Saturday mornings. And a few branches from our neighbor's lemon tree hung over our side of the fence, so summer always tasted of homemade lemonade.

Of course, the best part about making homemade orange juice or lemonade was getting to use the juicer. Cut the fruit in half, push it cut-side down onto the reamer and... voila!... instant juice!

Yesterday, Master W. went down for an early nap so Miss C. and I headed outside to pick a few lemons off of our tree. She'd never made juice before, so we dusted off the old Juicit Juicer and made some awesome lemonade! I love how she giggled every time we pressed the lemon on the reamer.

The first taste test revealed that, as I suspected, I needed to add a bit more sugar than the recipe called for since our lemons are freakishly large.

A tall glass and several ice cubes later, we were ready for a taste of summer.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Yummy

Doesn't this felt birthday cake look good enough to eat?

Miss C.'s wonderful godmother gave her this sweet little cake from one of my all time favorite wish-I-could-own-one-of-everything-she-sells Etsy shops, Nifty Kidstuff, for her birthday.

We've had a lot of fun decorating it over and over again, and singing happy birthday to everyone - from Master W. to Daddy to her stuffed animals.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Start Small

It's been a while since I last made anything new for my Etsy shops. Master W. is 7.5 months old now and I haven't listed anything new since before he was born.

So, I thought I'd start small.

I'm always looking for fun ways to use up my scraps and pin cushions seemed like a good way to ease back into selling. This first one incorporates two fabrics that I used for Miss C.'s scrap quilt. The white one was used on the back, while the pink one ended up as the quilt binding.

Is this the beginning of a push toward a full shop? I'm not quite sure. We'll just have to see where it leads.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Miss C.!

Today was my little girl's third birthday!

A few weeks ago, we sat down together to decide on a theme. I offered up all kinds of suggestions, from butterflies to Mickey Mouse to Darth Vader (she's loves the guy, and has never seen any of the movies). A thoughtful look passed over her face, then she looked at me and said, "Ladybugs?"

She's got a thing for ladybugs, so I knew it would be perfect. I designed some ladybug-themed invitations and started dreaming of ladybug cupcakes. Many Google clicks later and I found my inspiration.

This week, I mixed up a couple batches of red and black marshmallow fondant – recipe courtesy of a very talented Etsian – then stashed them in the fridge. I cleaned the house. I shopped for supplies. I whipped up a birthday banner. I planned and made lists.

Yesterday came and went in a flurry of baking... chocolate cupcakes and vanilla buttercream frosting from scratch... before building up to the big moment. It was time to cut out my ladybugs.

I gathered my supplies (one rolling pin, one small oval fondant cutter, one plastic drinking straw cut down to 1/2 inch long, one large round fondant cutter and a butter knife) then got to work. An hour or two later I had 15 adorable ladybug cupcakes ready to go.

They were a hit at the party. Best of all? Miss C. loved them.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I Spy Bag

Last week, we took the kids to Disneyland. The kids were really good during the long car ride from Northern California, but I found myself wishing that I'd had better car goodies to keep Miss C. happy and busy during the long haul down I-5.

The kids don't watch TV or movies, so the only things I could come up with at the time were books, crayons and paper, and flash cards.

Then it hit me - while we were on the road, of course – I'd seen some really cool I Spy Bags on Etsy recently. They looked relatively easy to make...

It turns out, I was right. In less than hour, I had whipped up this cute little rice and trinket filled I Spy Bag for Miss C.

Some of the goodies came from the bargain bins at a local party store, while others were things I scavenged from around the house. The fabric – one of my absolute favorites – came out of my scrap bin. And I found the vinyl in the remnant bin for less than a dollar at my local Jo Ann Fabrics yesterday.

Miss C. spent a good portion of the morning looking for all her treasures. Now all I have left to do is laminate the photo of the trinkets and attach it to the loop on the bag to make it road trip ready.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Drum roll, please...

It all started with a basket of scraps. Four months later, I've finally finished Miss C.'s scrap quilt.

I love how it turned out, but the best part is that she loves it. She practically rocketed into her bed when I put it on top yesterday.

I'll never forget how her eyes lit up with pride and excitement when she finally got to snuggle up underneath her quilt.





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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pretty in Pink


After searching every local JoAnn Fabrics store, I finally conceded defeat: both of the fabrics I chose for the back of Miss C.'s quilt appear to have been either discontinued or forever sold out.

So I took a risk and shopped for something entirely new. All in all, I think it was worth it. This cute little Heidi Grace floral print coordinates well with both sides of the quilt and will be the perfect finishing touch for my little girl's quilt.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Domesticity

I love baking bread. There's something so soothing about the simple act of sinking your hands into dough. The scent of yeast, flour and a bit of sugar bring me back to childhood days at the kitchen table where I spent countless hours over the years watching my mom or grandma bake loaves of bread.

I know it sounds strange, but on the days I bake the house is a little cleaner, more orderly. It makes me a better mom.

Lately, I've been trying to make my way to a comfortable state of domesticity. The beds are made. The dishes are clean. And the house is picked up.

I don't want to become a modern June Cleaver. But I'm a homemaker. I want my children to think back on these years with fond memories of playtime, stories read while snuggled together on the couch and the scent of freshly baked bread.

Just like I remember.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

*Burp*

When I was pregnant with Miss C. I thought I knew just how messy this whole baby business would be.

I never realized that it would be years before I wore a perfectly clean shirt – all day long – again. Despite my best efforts, I find myself wiping spit-up off my sleeves, back, jeans, feet and shoes on a daily basis.

No amount of burp cloths will solve the problem, but every mama should have at least a few cloth diapers on hand to catch her baby's dribbles, drools and splats. Not only are they softer, they're also far more absorbent than virtually any commercially-made terry burp cloth on the market.

I was cleaning out my office yesterday when I came across a couple of organic cloth diapers left over from the days when I made baby care sets for my shop.

Never one to pass up a possible sewing project, I set the diapers aside and started digging through my stash for a fabric to decorate the backside of the diaper.

In less than an hour I had the perfect gift for my wonderful sister-in-law, who is expecting her first baby (a girl!) in July.

I hope you love them, J. Of course, I should warn you... that little baby is going to find a way to spit up on everything but the burp cloth on your shoulder. At least you'll look good wiping it off!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Beautiful

I picked up Miss C.'s quilt this week and it's gorgeous.

A friend of mine is a very talented quilter, who also happens to have a long arm. We met up about a week ago to discuss what I'd like to have done with my quilt and, needless to say, I'm just floored by what's she's done.

In one short week, she managed to turn my sweet little scrap quilt into a real quilt – one that I hope my dear daughter will cherish for years to come.

All I have left to do now is the binding. I can hardly believe that I'm almost finished!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Das Diaper

I'm a huge Volkswagen fan. I grew up in a family of VW owners; the first car I can ever remember riding in was a VW Bus. My dad and older brother have driven various vintage VWs – including a number of air cooled Beetles, a Karmann Ghia or two and even a Single Cab.

I've carried my love of Volkswagens into my adult life – between my husband and I, we've owned two Jettas, a Rabbit and a New Beetle in the last 10 years.

This week, I was contemplating trying a t-shirt diaper for Master W. when it occurred to me that I might still have an old VW t-shirt lying around in one of my drawers. I dug it out and within an hour or so I had a brand-new fitted pocket diaper for Master W.

All it needs now are a few snaps and a prefold for stuffing before it's ready for a test drive.

Master W. may not be able to drive for another 16 years, but he'll sure looks the part of the avid VW fan in this smart little diaper.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Finishing

Today I dropped my quilt off for finishing. An old friend of mine has a long arm machine, and will be quilting a beautiful design through all three layers. And she's agreed to quilt a very special message from me to Miss C. into the design.

A few more weeks, and I'll have Miss C.'s beautifully finished quilt in hand, ready for binding.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Must Be Crazy

I started a new blog today. The idea came to me the other night when I was picking up my daughter's toys before bed.

What would her toys want to talk about, given the opportunity?

If Toys Could Talk is a quirky look at life with kids. I'm challenging myself to an entry each day.

Let's see...

Two blogs + two Etsy shops + one growing family = Insanity!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Getting Closer


A word of warning to all you first time quilters out there: you're going to be just as obsessed with the back of your quilt as you were with the front.

I had no idea!

It took me a few weeks to decide what to do about the backing for Miss C.'s quilt. While I had at one point considered buying one length of wide-width fabric, I quickly realized that a coordinating print was going to be nearly impossible to find. The selection of wide-width fabrics is simply too small... and too ugly.

I was going to have to piece the back.


Of course, after spending weeks piecing hundreds of small swatches of fabric for the front, I was rather reluctant to embark on another ambitious piecing project. So, I drew out a very simple design for the back using two coordinating prints.

I like the simplicity of the design, and I think it gives the quilt a slightly modern look.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

From Prefold to Fitted

Check out this cute little fitted diaper I whipped up for Master W. with the help of Betty, my new serger and the Very Baby fitted diaper pattern.

He's a wiggly little guy, so I know that there will soon come a time when I can no longer easily wrangle him into a prefold diaper. I've spent the past few months wondering whether or not I should even think about cutting up my precious prefolds to turn them into easy-to-use fitteds.

It didn't take long for Betty to convince me to give it a go. "Just make one," she whispered in my ear when I was changing out her thread cones. "Maybe you'll like it and want to make more."

You were right, Betty. I'm sold.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Etsy Baby Shower Gift #5

This sweet little shortall is my last Etsy Baby Shower gift, made especially for Master W. by sewsosweetboutique.

The level of cuteness on this little outfit is off the charts. Not only did sewsosweetboutique make a custom-sized outfit for my little guy (with an appliqued a bunny and monogrammed initials to make it the perfect get-up for Easter Sunday), she also included a sweet little crayon roll for Miss C. And, of course, everything was expertly sewn together by this talented seamstress.

sewsosweetboutique carries all sorts of cuteness for little ones, from dresses to bibs to shortalls. Be sure to stop on by her shop!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Waiting

Here it is. My new serger piping foot.

Right now, this is the only part of my new Brother 1034D in my possession. The serger itself is, according to Amazon, hanging out 20 minutes away in West Sacramento.

I feel rather tortured every time my gaze drifts over to my lonely little piping foot. I've read through the instructions at least three times. I've inspected it from every angle. Now I must wait.

Perfectly piped pillows, overlocked fitted diapers, superb seams and gorgeously gathered little girl dresses are just a few hours away.

Sigh.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Old Nemesis

It's been 15 years since I last tried my hand at sewing knits.

I can still remember the overwhelming frustration. The rage. The tears. All because of a teal knit dress.

I ripped out seams. I consulted with my mother. I swore up a blue streak as the cursed fabric stretched and moved while I stitched. And I vowed that I would never again pick up a piece of knit fabric.

I managed to avoid knits for quite some time. Yet here I am 15 years later cutting out knit fabric for cloth diapers for Master W. I'm a much more experienced seamstress now, but that old fear is still there.

I'm hoping this time will be different. My new serger is on its way. I'm older and wiser. My sewing knowledge is far superior to what it was when I was a teenager.

It's time to conquer an old fear. I'm ready.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Etsy Baby Shower Gift #4

I discovered a pirate in my mailbox this week.

He had used his sword to shred all of my mail (thankfully, it was all junk) and immediately threatened to make me walk the plank if I didn't immediately hand over any and all doubloons in my possession.

Fortunately, I'm bigger than he is so I simply stuffed him into my pocket and took him back to the house. He's taken a liking to Master W. and is already making plans for the many grand adventures they'll embark on when my little guy is old enough to read a treasure map.

A big thank you to theenchantedcupboard, one of the fabulous Etsians that I was paired with for the Etsy Baby Shower. She is an amazing artist and I'm absolutely thrilled to have been gifted with one of her gorgeous toys. Please stop on by her shop for amazing play sets that will surely send your child's imagination into orbit!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Puzzle Solved

I did it! I finally finished Miss C.'s quilt top.

After finishing up the last of the blocks last week, I spent an evening puzzling the pieces together to create this pretty little scrap quilt. I'm absolutely thrilled about how it turned out.

Next up is selecting the backing fabric, pricing out long arm services and selecting the binding.