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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Quiet Book: Mr. Potato Head

One of my crafting challenges that I've set for myself this year, aside from just getting back into crafting, is to create a quiet book for Ian. If you've never heard of a quiet book, it's essentially a book, usually made of felt, that has little activities, puzzles, and games for your toddler/preschooler to play with.  It's great for car rides and I think the original purpose was for kids to have something to keep them quiet at Church.

There are some amazing quiet book inspiration pages out there and I have a whole Pinterest page dedicated to it. You'll also find a lot of blogs with instructions or whose sole purpose is the quiet book.  I found one such blog that had fun templates like a Mr. Potato Head activity page.  I decided that seemed pretty simple and would be a good starting point.

You can get the templates to make your own Mr. Potato Head quiet book pages here.  Once I downloaded the templates, I cut out the various pieces to assemble my quiet book.  I ordered my felt from Etsy - I found they had the greatest selection of colors to choose from and reasonable prices.
I also have a very extensive collection of embroidery thread. This isn't even the full amount - I have a lot pulled aside for current embroidery projects.  I used a combination of hand-stitching with embroidery threads (especially on the small pieces) and my sewing machine on the large pieces.

I made a whole bucket of various pieces to attach to Mr. Potato Head.  They all get stored in the bucket and Ian can pull them out and piece them on to the potato in whatever way he chooses.
My goal is to create one quiet book page or set of pages for Ian a month until his second birthday. By then he should be about ready to really enjoy the quiet book and he'll have a whole set at that point. I've already completed some of the next pages so I'll share those shortly.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ian's Mustache Bash

A few months ago, I shared some of the party preparation I was doing for Ian's first birthday. He's now almost 15 months old, so his birthday is long past, but I wanted to share the final result.  I did A LOT of crafting for his birthday - starting back in November. Yeah, I might have gone a little overboard, but I was so happy with the result.  The final look was everything I pictured it to be (thanks, Pinterest), but above all that, I had a wonderful time celebrating with friends and family.

Almost everything we did for his party was homemade. I made paper chains for behind his high-chair, the smash cake and desserts were made by myself and my mom, the bunting, birthday boy message cards, food labels for the tables... I ordered a couple of things from online, just because I didn't have that time or expertise.  Luckily, my new Silhouette made everything else extremely do-able and fairly easy.  I never thought I would veer from my sewing/needlework crafts, but this machine is definitely convincing me otherwise.

This birthday party taught me a lot. The main lesson being that I will never throw a birthday party like this again. At least not until any future babies turn one. It was a huge undertaking and I would totally say I went overboard. It's hard not to get sucked into all of the pinterest ideas out there. I don't regret it, but I don't think it's really necessary in the future.  A couple of things here and there, but I think I'll just focus on activities for kids. At this party we had a little area gated off so that kids could safely play in a small ball pit. I also had a local children's story time performer come in and sing some songs to the kids. I have some great memories from the event and luckily plenty of pictures to remember all of the craziness that went along with the planning.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Crafting Medium: Heat Transfer Vinyl

While I've been quiet on the blogging front, I've been very busy crafting. I've been having a hard time finding the mental balance of making things and actually writing something up about them. I feel like I've taken a lot of pictures with the intent to eventually post something, but I somehow never get around to it.  I'm hoping to write a few posts to be released in the near future - maybe it will help to inspire me again. So, if you're still with me... thanks. :)

One of the newest crafts I've taken on has been working with the Silhouette and therefore: vinyl, heat transfer vinyl, and just a little bit of paper-crafting.  I have enough sewing materials, fabric, patterns, yarn, and books that I don't necessarily want to stock up on all new craft supplies, but I've been able to reign in my Silhouette crafting to a so-far reasonable level.

I started by doing a few vinyl projects. Mainly, labeling my water bottles, buckets for Ian's outside toys, etc, but eventually tested the waters by making HTV shirts for a run that I recently did. Don't act all impressed - it was a beer run. A 4k where at every k, you drank a beer. Classy.  But hey, it got me running.

I ended up making all of the shirts for the ladies I ran with, but it made me want to get a better understanding of HTV.  I was frustrated with the pressing process and about ready to throw in the towel by the time I got to the end.  But, through some of my Silhouette Facebook groups, I found some designs that convinced me that I needed to try it again on shirts for Ian.  I did a bit of research and short of buying a press, I think I found a pretty decent method for applying HTV using an iron.  I may still end up getting a press one day, but in the meantime, the iron does the trick.  But I'm happy to share the method with you.

To iron on  HTV, you will need:

  • the garment to iron on (I stuck with cotton onesies). If you're going to use something other than cotton, you will need to do a quick search to make sure the HTV won't melt it. You press down for a long enough amount of time that you will want to be sure before ruining a garment.
  • iron
  • pressing cloth. I used a piece of scrap, cotton fabric. 
  • firm, iron-safe surface, such as an ironing board
  • your design, printed in reverse onto heat transfer vinyl. For this project, I used the Silhouette brand HTV, but you can use any kind - your press time may vary slightly depending on the type, so check with the manufacturers directions.

First, prep your HTV.  Weed out any designs that you don't want to iron on to your surface. If you have text printed on your design, make sure it's a mirror image as you will apply it in reverse to the shirt - which then adhere's it in the proper direction. Make sense? You'll see.

Then, prep your garment. I did a quick iron of the onesie to release any wrinkles and warm the surface up a bit.  Make sure you only have one layer of the garment on the side of your ironing board. Otherwise, you may end up bonding the HTV through your article of clothing.  To adhere the HTV, set your iron to the 'cotton' setting.

Place the HTV, with the clear sheet attached, to the shirt. I used a ruler to center the design. When the HTV is flipped onto the garment surface, the design is readable. See? Told you.

Lay the pressing cloth on top of the HTV/clear sheet.  Press your iron down on the pressing cloth for one minute*. I turn on the stopwatch on my phone. Repeat this process on various part of the design (depending on how big it is) to ensure that all sections have been adhered to the garment.  Remove iron and let cool for a minute or so before handling.

Remove pressing cloth and begin to slowly peel off the clear sheet from the HTV. With letters and small pieces, you may need to be especially careful. If something is not adhered enough, it may either need more time to cool, or may need more pressing time.

Once the clear sheet is removed, your design is done! I do a quick press with the pressing cloth directly over the design, then with the shirt inside out.

I went a little crazy and made a few designs, including one that layered two colors. I can definitely see this becoming an addiction with customizing some of Ian's clothing.

Have you worked with HTV before? How was your experience? Please let me know if you have any other tips to share.

*I pressed my HTV for one minute. I believe the Silhouette instructions said 20-30 seconds, but that did nothing other than cause frustration.  You may want to test on some throw-away garments or vinyl first, but I found that one minute was the only way to get the HTV to actually adhere to my different fabrics.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Sweet Treats Saturday: Sugar Cookie Cupcakes

These cupcakes are so decadent. They really emphasize the 'sweet' in 'sweet treats.' But they're so delicious, and would be the perfect compliment to a platter of sugar cookies.

Don't believe me?

That's how I served them.

It was a tough decision.  Sugar cookie... cupcake... alright, one of each.

Sugar Cookie Cupcakes
Recipe from le creme de la crumb
Makes approx 12 cupcakes

Ingredients for the cupcakes:
1/2 c butter (1 stick), softened
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup half n' half

Ingredients for the frosting:
2 tbsp cream cheese, room temp
1/2 c butter (1 stick), softened
5 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4-5 tbsp half n' half
Optional: Food coloring

Directions for the cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin.
2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in vanilla extract and eggs until blended.
3. In a separate bowl, add flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with half n' half. Mix until blended.
4. Spoon batter into cupcake liners. Bake 15-20 minutes until just browning on the edges. Let cool on a wire rack.

Directions for the frosting:
1. In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Slowly add powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Add in vanilla. Slowly add half n' half until frosting is smooth. Mix in food coloring until desired color is achieved. Decorate cupcakes... and enjoy!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Sweet Treats Saturday: White Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting

In my ripe old age of... well, early 30's, I've started to like desserts with fruit flavors.  When I was a kid, you couldn't get my to touch them! Well, mainly fruit fillings. Why would you want to ruin a cake with that?? Now, though? Love it.

I saw a similar recipe to this online, but it was in a different language, and the conversion measurements just didn't seem to be adding up to a full batch of cupcakes. So, I improvised! I went off of a combination of multiple recipes that I had in my head, and made my own variation of white chocolate chip cupcakes, topped with a raspberry cream cheese frosting.

I'm even impressed with myself.

I gave these out at a holiday market as a fundraiser for the church that rented us the booth space. The market patrons had nothing but good things to say, and we had snacks on hand in between sales.

We really didn't eat that many... but it was tempting. They're REALLY good! How perfect would these be for Valentine's Day??

Hopefully you'll enjoy them too!

White Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting
Makes approx 24 cupcakes

Ingredients for cupcakes:

1/2 c butter (1 stick), softened
1 c sugar
3 large eggs

2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c milk
3/4 c white chocolate chips

Ingredients for frosting:
1/2 c butter (1 stick), softened
4 oz cream cheese, room temp
3 1/2 c powdered sugar
1/4 c raspberry jelly (seedless)
red food coloring

Directions for cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (approx 2 minutes). Slowly add in eggs.
3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add the dry mixture into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk until blended.  Stir in white chocolate chips.  Spoon mixture into cupcake liners, filling approx 2/3 of the way.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until light golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Directions for frosting:
1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add in powdered sugar and mix until blended.
2. Add in raspberry jelly and blend. Add red food coloring until desired color is reached. Use to frost cupcakes.
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