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Sunday, December 08, 2013

Holiday Crafting and Felt Ornaments

Holiday crafting is in full swing. My friend and I were invited to participate in a local holiday craft fair with a European theme. We were thrilled to have the opportunity but we needed to come up with some new items along those lines. I decided to try my hand at felt ornaments as I had a stash of the fabric and I've been wanting to dabble in it for a while now.

Can I say that I'm in love?

I know, dramatic. But seriously - stitching in felt is so awesome! It's smooth, easy to work with and manipulate, and it got my creative juices flowing. Once I got started, I couldn't stop! I made over 40 ornaments over the course of two weeks. Intense, yes, but it felt so nice to be crafting like that again.

I think our display ended up looking beautiful, and the craft fair was a lot of fun. There was tons of foot traffic and we met a lot of great people.

I'm really proud of all of the stuff that I made up for the fair, but I do need to get my Etsy shop updated with some of my newer baby items. I did get a chance to put some of my holiday ornaments and decorations in though, and readers of this blog get a holiday discount! Just use the code '10PERCENT' for 10% off of your purchase. I can ship pretty much immediately, so there's still time to get things for the holidays.  Here's the link: What's Up, Cupcake? Etsy Shop

Isabel made up some adorable onesies in fun holiday designs. She also had these new onesies with a crochet flower. The flower detatches to make for easy washing. How clever is that?? I need her to help me clean up my crochet skills. Her work is so delicate and intricate, and to be honest, I feel like mine can be a little sloppy.

Aside from ornament crafting, I have a few new baby lovie designs to stitch up. I'd love to get that done in the next few days so I can ship them out as well. I've already had some mommas asking for them in my online groups. And then, I'm hoping for some R&R. Spending time cuddling with my little guy and enjoying the winter weather with my family.

I hope you, lovely readers, are doing well, and enjoying this holiday season! I have some more yummy treats to share with you and I'm going to be cutting out my Zinnia skirt soon. It feels good to be at the sewing machine again!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Sweet Treats Saturday: Sugar and Spice Cupcakes

Sugar and spice and everything nice!

I've been craving spice cake. It happens every Fall. Ok, really... year round. But I remember it every Fall when I smell spices in the air or think of mulled cider. This time, I decided to try my hand at a spice cake recipe.

I still feel 'new' in the area. North Carolina, that is. I've met so many new people who don't always know about my love of baking. Well, the word is getting out. These cupcakes brought about some new converts and I can't hide my secret (ok, really, it isn't much of a secret) much longer.

Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting
Frosting recipe from I Wash You Dry
Cupcake recipe makes 24 cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
2 1/2 c cake flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 c butter, room temp
1/2 c light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 c buttermilk

Cupcake Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake pans.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a mixing bowl and using electric beaters), cream butter and sugars. Once fluffy, slowly add eggs and vanilla extract. Beat at high speed until light and fluffy, approx 5 minutes.
4. Add dry ingredients, alternating with buttermilk, mixing until just combined.
5. Pour batter into lined cupcake pans, filling 2/3 of the way. Bake for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Frosting Ingredients:
1 c brown sugar, packed
1/4 c water
1/2 c light corn syrup
4 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting Directions:
1. Mix brown sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil (being careful not to burn yourself as the mixture will rise). Let it boil at medium heat until the syrup drizzles from the spoon in a hair-like string. This will take approx 10 minutes but may vary so keep an eye on the mix. Remove from the burner and set aside to cool.
2. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.
3. While beating the egg whites, slowly pour the hot syrup in a thin stream into the egg whites. Don't rush this step! Continue beating until the icing holds peaks, then add the vanilla.
4. Let cool until room temp and frost the cupcakes when ready to serve.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I have so much to be thankful this year that I couldn't even begin to list it out. But of course, what I am most thankful for is my happy and healthy family.

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving and start of the holiday season!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sweet Treats Saturday: Goat Cheese Sugar Cookies

Ok, if you've made it this far, you are in for a treat!

Yes, the sugar cookies have goat cheese in them. No, you will not taste it. What you will taste is a delicious, crispy, buttery, sugar cookie.

When I saw this recipe come up on my Pinterest, I was instantly intrigued. I'm a sucker for goat cheese - on my pizza, in tarts... and apparently in my sugar cookies. But I'm also the type of person who would pick a sugar cookie over chocolate chip, anyday. My husband calls it blasphemy.

The ingredients (other than the goat cheese) were things I would normally have in my pantry. And I actually had the goat cheese on hand as I planned on using it for pizza night later in the week. And while we are at it, how about sprinkles in fall colors? Perfection!

These cookies were so easy to make and so crispy and delicious. I love a sugar cookie all rolled up in sprinkles and these were probably on my top 5 sugar cookie of all time list. Yes, I have such a list.

Surprise someone and whip up this batch of cookies. I didn't tell anyone the secret ingredient, and they never would have guessed anyways. But they were all raving about how delicious they were!

Goat Cheese Sugar Cookies
Recipe only slightly modified from Love and Olive Oil

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c sugar
1/3 cup (3 oz) soft goat cheese, room temperature (I used the crumbled kind)
6 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 tbsp milk (1% was fine)
2 tsp vanilla extract
sprinkles or sanding sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to sift. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, goat cheese, and butter. Mix with an electric (or stand) mixer until it forms a smooth paste.  Slowly add in oil. Then add egg, milk, and vanilla extract, stirring until all is blended and smooth.
4. Slowly add in flour mixture until it is all blended. Batter will be soft and may need to be placed in fridge in between use.
5. Fill a small bowl with sprinkles or sanding sugar.
6. Use a small cookie dough scoop or tablespoon to scoop out dough. Scoop into bowl and roll around until mostly covered.  I leave space on the bottom but you could cover the entire cookie. Arrange on prepared baking sheet. The cookies do not spread too much but leave a little space in between each one.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are set and slightly golden.  Cool and transfer to wire racks.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Craft Fair Recap and Lessons Learned

This past weekend, I had my first craft fair. I teamed up with some local moms, and we rented out some tables under the name 'Milk Mamas.'  We all met from our local breast-feeding support group so it was a pretty fitting name.  All of our items are hand-crafted and primarily focused on the wee ones.

The craft fair was put on buy the local Junior League chapter. It's the first or second time they've run it so it was a smaller affair. It was in their local Community Outreach building and there was about a dozen vendors total participating.

I was up late every night of the week, frantically churning out burp cloths and lovies. It's been ages since I've participated in a craft fair, and never selling goods like these... I really didn't know what to expect. My Etsy shop has been doing pretty well, considering I do minimal advertising and it's mainly with online mommy groups.  My lovie's are definitely the top seller as I'm usually advertising them on sites specific to the swaddle brands that I use. But would they perform as well in person?

We arrived early and I covered the tables in my pastel table-cloths. I brought them 'just-in-case' but they definitely came in handy to cover up the drab, plastic tables.  We divided up the tables between the 5 of us and arranged our goodies for display. In the future, we could definitely use more space. We all had a lot of great stuff! ILH Designs and her onesies could have taken up two tables alone as she had so many cute designs available! Her friend was selling Norwex cleaning products at the far end of the table, and the other two ladies had some adorable bows, infinity scarves for babies and adults, and felt quiet books. I think that with the combination of all of these items, I can safely say that we were one of the most popular tables at the craft fair.  We all sold a few pieces - not quite as much as we would have liked to do, but with approximately 50 people coming to the fair (one of the vendors counted), I think we made out pretty well.

Once I got home, I also reached out to my local online groups and mentioned my items, and was able to get quite a few more sales directly through my Etsy shop. So in the end, it came out to be a successful day. I made back what I spent on the table, which was really my main concern, I got my name out there, and was able to gauge what people were interested in.

Much to my surprise, the burp cloths were equally as popular as the lovies. Not that I don't think they are a great product as well, but on Etsy, they don't sell nearly as well. I feel that my pricing is very competitive, but I think Etsy is pretty saturated with burp cloth sets.  I'm going to keep at it though, focusing on them at shows like this, but also keeping really cute designs in stock. In just the last week since the fair, I picked up some new prints that are ridiculously cute. I'll list them online after my next craft fair, tomorrow. Yeah, that's right - back-to-back craft fairs. Tis' the season!

One quick craft that I whipped up for the fair were some little name labels for my items. At the time, I was just doing burp cloths and lovies. Again, since the fair, I've been on a bit of a crafting spree and was inspired to come up with a few new things. More on those after this weekend. I stitched these each up in about 30 minutes.  I made a quick little cupcake and plotted out the spacing for the words. I love how they turned out, and tied my two little baskets together. Now I just need to make a couple more for my new goodies.

So overall, what did I learn from this craft fair experience? Sorry, it's about to get a bit wordy, but hopefully you will find this useful.

1. Don't set too many expectations. Try to find out as much as you can about the fair itself so that you can anticipate how many people will come. Who will mostly make up the audience? I knew that this was a fairly new fair, so I didn't expect a huge turn-out, but I definitely had more products than I needed. It's good to have variety, but you also don't want to over-do it and bring too much clutter. Through this all, you can still find that even though you did the research, you just didn't get a lot of customers. While I think you should take a look at what you are selling overall, making sure it is something people are interested in, you also don't want to go in to your first (or even later on) craft fair expecting to be wiped out of everything. Just be realistic about what to expect.

2. Price right. Be competitive, but make sure you're not underestimating yourself and what your time is worth. Etsy has some great resources to help you calculate how much you should be selling your items for in order to make a profit. If you are finding that your goods are priced too high, you need to figure out how you can keep costs down... better vendors to buy your supplies, more time-effective solutions to make them, or maybe it's something you just need to pass on.

3. Adding on to the topic of price, are you really incorporating ALL costs into your goods? We had one person who was not charging extra for custom prints. It doesn't take her much extra time to do, but something that was missing from her calculations was the cost of getting the end product to the customer. At the fair, you hand them their item, the transaction is - in a sense - over. Custom items require a little extra work but they also do not leave the customer standing in front of you with the goods in hand. The items either need to be delivered in person (if local, and willing to meet) or shipped.  This adds gas costs or just shipping and packaging costs. While it can be exciting to get the sale, you also want to be sure that you are not completely eating away at your margins only to find out you're now in the red. Custom orders may require an extra couple of bucks added on... or more depending on what is actually involved.

4. Listen to your customers. What is it that they are looking for? What are they saying about your products (or the products of the person next to you). For our baby items, what I heard the most was that people wanted a good variety of items for boys, girls, AND gender neutral. It seems obvious, but you may need to take a closer look at your items to make sure they are offering a good variety of options for all customers.

5. Little things count. Keep your stuff neat, easy-to-see, and fun. This draws people in and can impress them with your professional appearance. While some people may like the Becky Homecky look, most people want to buy something that is presented well. Again, seems obvious, but you would be amazed at how some people display their items at craft fairs. If your booth is a mess and it's hard to get an idea of what is actually for sale, you probably won't draw many people in.

6. When possible, let people really SEE your product. I left a few lovies out for people to touch and play with because they are so soft. The rest were neatly packaged up, but this way they could see exactly what they would be buying.

7. What's your follow-up plan? Did you make any connections at the craft fair? Anyone you need to reach out to or custom order to begin working on? Do these things in a timely manner, while your memory is still fresh and so is the customers. It's also just good customer service to get back to them when promised (or sooner). In my case, I didn't have custom orders, but I saw my small supply of burp cloths had a big dent. I needed to replenish before the next fair, so I went out to get more supplies. In doing so, I saw new prints that met #4... listening to what they were asking for. Some cute, new, gender neutral prints, and fun designs that I think will be really popular.  I also advertised online, and ended up selling twice as much as what I sold at the fair in person.  I was already in the shop frame of mind, so it only took me a few minutes and got me a few new customers.

8. Finally... BE FRIENDLY! I saw some vendors with a frown on their face for most of the show. One thing I noticed about them... hardly anyone went to their booth.  You don't need to be a cheerleader, but people probably won't want to stop by if someone with a giant scowl is staring you down.

Alright, I think that's it! Did I miss anything? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sew White Dress

What's this?

An actual dress, you say?

For the first time in... well, I'm too lazy to go back and look - let's just say it's been a loooong time. I made a dress. For myself. In fact, it took so long that the dress is just slightly out of season.

For my first foray back to sewing, I eagerly set out to make the Anna dress from By Hand London.  I snatched up the pattern and tried to plot out what fabric to make it in. I looked around my sewing space before I ventured to my local fabric shop, and saw a few yard of white eyelet that I had picked up.  I was inspired to buy this fabric at one point because I saw a black lace dress that I totally thought I could make myself. Except, I couldn't find lace that I wanted to use, or it was too expensive. And then it wasn't black. So I looked at eyelet instead. But still... not inspired by what I saw, and black eyelet is not so easy to come by. So I switched it to white. And then I finally found this eyelet design and bit the bullet. So, it's not what I originally intended, but it could do the job.  I had never used a pattern from By Hand London so I decided I wouldn't be too heartbroken if it didn't work out.

I picked up a thin, white cotton fabric to go underneath the eyelet. We wouldn't want it to be see-through, now would we? I treated the lining as if it were one with the fabric. It made it easier to cut out and assemble the dress, and I didn't want to have to deal with the logistics of a lining.

The pattern was super easy to put together. The hardest part for me was remembering how to do a pleat (I looked up the designer's tutorials, just to make sure I did it right) and installing my invisible zipper. It had been a long while since I did one so I didn't want to make any mistakes. I took it slow, and referred to Colette's sewing handbook instructions, just to be safe.

Now, in California, I could totally wear this dress in the Fall. Except for the whole 'no white after Labor Day' but is that still a thing? Since I've been planning this dress for a while, I probably could have worn it in the early Fall... except we are far enough into the season here in North Carolina, that it's pretty chilly. I could wear it with a sweater, tights, and boots... but I'd probably still be a little cold.  So this will probably get tucked away into my closet until the Spring. But I do like it, and overall the fit seems to be good. I was worried that it wouldn't fit, but it feels perfect. The pictures make it look like it's straining at the bust, but I didn't see that in person, and my hubby denied it too. Regardless, by the time I wear it in Spring, I won't be breastfeeding anymore so I have a feeling the size will be different in that respect. Is that TMI? Trying to be realistic.

So, it's a lovely dress! I will definitely make it again, though I think with the v-neck option instead. Now I need to get realistic about cold weather sewing options. Do you have any recommendations of favorite patterns? Maybe the new release from Colette will be something fitting...

The Facts
Fabric: Approx 3.5 yards cotton eyelet, from stash
Pattern: Anna from By Hand London
Year: Contemporary
Notions: 16" zipper, hook closure
Time to Complete: Approx. 4 hours
First worn: For photos
Wear again: When it's warmer

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Sweet Treats Saturday: Cornflake Cookies

Everywhere I go I have to stop whenever I see a bakery or cupcake shop that I haven't tried. Being that we're in a completely new home, I'm having to stop an awful lot.

I popped in to a little bakery near my house as I heard they had amazing brownies.  The brownies were alright but in the process I spotted a cookie that I'd never heard of... I think they called it a 'rocket' cookie? Its description said 'cornflakes, coconut, and pecans.' Cornflakes in a cookie??  I was intrigued.

I brought it home and nibbled on a corner... which promptly turned in to devouring the whole thing. It was so good! For the sake of my wallet, I thought I should figure out how to make them myself.  I did a search on 'cornflake cookies' and nothing sounded quite right. I finally found one that sounded exact - minus the pecans. So I whipped up my own version.

I think they turned out almost exactly the same. I would be tempted to get another one just to compare, but what I baked was a buttery, crispy, mildly coconut-ty cookie with a little crunch from the pecans and cornflakes. The coconut isn't overwhelming and the cornflakes have a mystery about them. These may be my new sugar/oatmeal cookie addiction.

Cornflake Cookies
Recipe modified from Allrecipes

1/2 c butter (4oz)
1/2 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c cornflakes cereal, crushed (I poured into a ziploc bag and crushed them by hand)
1 c old-fashioned oats
1 1/3 c flaked coconut
3/4 c pecans, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy.  Stir in the egg and vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Stir into the creamed mixture. Add the oatmeal, crushed cereal, coconut, and pecans, and mix until combined.
4. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto a prepared cookie sheet. Cookies should be about 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-12 minutes until edges are light brown and the tops are golden. Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Lovies and an Etsy Shop

I've been doing a lot of sewing lately, though still not a garment for myself - mainly crafts.  One in particular has been little lovie blankets for babies.

Having Ian introduced me to many things... baby love and snuggles, dirty diapers, breastfeeding, and the world of baby accessories being just a few of them. Within this world, I found muslin swaddle blankets.  When I first heard of them, I couldn't understand the appeal.  Sewing muslin does not usually bring to mind the softest of fabrics.  I found that this muslin they speak of is actually cotton gauze. A soft, lightweight cotton that is perfect for swaddling little babies in.  There are a few big designers, especially Aden and Anais, Swaddle Designs... and it seems like so many more are constantly popping up.

Tilly recently featured a post on Selling Your Handmade Stuff. It was a good read, and had a few things I had to consider when coming up with my shop.  I checked out the existing market for lovies and found that most were made from minky and cotton fabrics... but why not from these beautifully designed blankets? I set to work. I made a few designs and offered them within my online mommy groups. They performed really well so I thought it was time to reopen my Etsy shop.  I've made a little inventory and had my first few sales... and I'm really pleased with the results. I think the lovies turned out beautifully and I think they will make many a happy baby. My little guy loves his.  I have a few more versions to make before the holidays but I'm trying to squeeze them in between my own personal sewing projects.

Ian on one of his swaddle blankets

If you would like to purchase a lovie, you can get them from my Etsy shop with a 10% discount for blog readers. Just use the coupon code '10PERCENT'

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Sweet Treats Saturday: Pear and Apple Crisp

Autumn is here in North Carolina, and I love it.  Though we've only been here for a few months, I'm already loving the changing seasons. People always complained that California doesn't have that, and I never really had a full understanding of what that meant. Sure, it went from hot to cold... we didn't have snow, but I'm cool with that. But here... I could pinpoint the week when summer transitioned to fall.

Ok, enough melancholy. Fall means food. Family gatherings, apples, squash, soups... my mouth is watering thinking about it.  My weekly CSA box has been filled with these goodies and I wanted to make a warm fruit crisp to enjoy some of the bounty.

I didn't have any special ocassions or celebrations coming up, but I wanted a recipe that would use a variety of these fruits and make a small enough batch that hubby and I could finish it over a few days, or that I could easily serve when we have a couple of friends over for dinner.  I downsized the original recipe and made a few changes. Even the hubby, who is not usually a fan of fruit-based desserts, wanted more.  The combination of pears and apples was a nice change to the standard apple crisp.

Pear and Apple Crisp
Recipe modified from Two Peas &Their Pod

Ingredients for the fruit filling:
2 pears, 1 apple (or the reverse combination), peeled, cored, and chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c light brown sugar
3 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
dash of ground nutmeg

Ingredients for the crisp topping:
1/4 c butter
heaping 1/2 c old-fashioned oats
1/2 c all-purpose flour
dash of salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c brown sugar

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine apples, pears, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix to coat.

2. In a separate bowl, mix sugars, flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sprinkle the mixture over the fruit and stir until thoroughly combined.  Pour into a small baking dish (9x9 or similar). Spread until mixture is evenly distributed and covering the bottom of the pan.

3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat, ocassionally swirling the pan, until the butter is a golden brown color with a nutty smell.  Transfer to a bowl to cool.

4.  In a separate bowl, combine the oats, flour, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  Pour the butter over the mixture and stir until combined.  Crumble mixture over the pear and apple mixture in the baking pan.

5. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the crumble is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown.  Let cool slightly before serving.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pants for my baby boy

After making shorts for my girlfriend's little boy, I wanted to make some for my own. My little guy is just 7 1/2 months now and the weather is a bit colder where we are, so I modified the original pattern to make a pair of flat front pants.

I had some leftover fabric from the hubby's Halloween costume. Yeah, that's right. I'm making his Halloween costume. Except... I don't know if it's going to see the light of day. The fit is a bit off and I'm just not pleased. Anyways, I had some extra fabric and you don't even need a full half a yard to make a pair of these pants. I had more than enough to make my baby boy his own pair of trousers.

The pants probably took about half an hour to make. I used the original pattern but used a pair of his own pants to determine how much length to add. It was just about 3 1/2 extra inches. Looking back, I would probably use elastic all around the waistband next time. They fit fine but because he's just about crawling now, he pulls them down when he drags on the floor. If he was walking there wouldn't be an issue, so something to think about the next time I make a pair. But again, the fit was great and they look so cute on him! I never thought I'd be able to make clothes for my baby boy, but I'm excited to find these little patterns throughout the web.  I plan on making him a bathrobe next, but first, a little something for myself is in the works...

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Little Man Shorts

I've been working on little sewing projects for the last couple of weeks but I've finally made my first garment in a while.  I'm so happy with how this project turned out.

I've been complaining about the lack of patterns for baby boys, when I stumbled across Sew Charleston's blog.  She had recently made baby shorts as a gift and I instantly clicked over to see where she found the pattern.

Dana, over on the Made blog, had come up with a shorts pattern for kids. I love them for a few reasons:

- the basic pattern is so cute, but she offers so many variations and modifications that you can do. This includes making a shorter, 'racer' short, adding pockets to the front or back, flat front or elastic all the way around... there are so many options!
- the sizing is for 12months to 10 years. I can use this pattern for so many more shorts!!! As Ian grows up, if I have more babies... because....
- it's for boys AND girls!
- The price is right! It was only $6 for the whole pattern set. Love. It.

I ran out to get some fabric. A pair of shorts for a baby boy takes up less than half a yard. That can't be beat! I got a couple of options, just to test the waters, and made up the 18 months size.

Let's backtrack a little. Aside from having my own baby boy to sew for, my girlfriend back in California was getting ready to celebrate the first birthday of her own little boy, Dylan.  I was so sad that I couldn't be there to celebrate, and wanted to make something a little more personal.  She has been an amazing support system to me with the birth of Ian and I wanted to make something special.

Her husband is a deep sea fisherman, and avid hunter. I had to tie that in somehow. Oh, and the theme for her little man's birthday? Pirates! So I found two prints that would be perfect... ocean waves with pirate ships, and camo!

I was able to quickly whip up the two shorts. I made the camo version as a regular length, flat front short. I did the pirate ship in the 'racer' style with bias tape trim. I decided to omit pockets because I didn't think her baby boy would need them just yet. I added a little cupcake ribbon tag into the back of the shorts, to help identify the front and back, and to add a professional touch.  All of the exposed seams are serged so there's no risk of it unraveling with use from an active little boy,

Can I tell you how fun it is to make such little garments? Not only are they fast to sew, but they are so adorable and mini... I couldn't stop showing them off to anyone who was around to see them.  I think my husband did a great job at matching my enthusiasm and he only scared me a little when he said 'will they fit?'  Well... I hope so! Though her little man was turning 1, I made the 18 months size because I assumed sizing would be similar to the clothing industry... in which you can typically wear the size until the date. So my little man, who is almost 7 months old, would wear the 12 months version. Baby Dylan, just turning 12 months, should then be ok for the 18 months size. Fingers crossed.

I shipped off the shorts and was excited a few days later to receive some pictures from my girlfriend. The shorts fit great and Dylan looks even more adorable in them! Or is it that the shorts are adorable because of him? I don't know, but look at this little guy - isn't he the cutest??

Now I can't wait to scrounge up some more bits of fabric to make them for Ian and for other babies with birthdays coming up!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sweet Treats Saturday: Kitchen Sink Blondies

Friday night. Dinner is devoured. Dishes are done... and I'm itching for something sweet.

I decided to surprise the hubby with blondies. Chocolate chip cookies are probably his #1 favorite dessert that could only ever be topped by blondies.  But in order for me to fully enjoy them, we would have to include toffee. Fair is fair, right?  So I started collecting ingredients and decided to basically throw in all of the add-ins I could find. Thus, the kitchen sink blondies were created.  Chocolate chips, heath bar, peanut butter chips, walnuts... enjoy!

Kitchen Sink Blondies
Recipe modified from AllRecipes
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2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 c firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c heath bar bits
1/2 c peanut butter chips
1 c chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9x13" cake pan.
2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Then, gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in desired add-ins (chocolate chips, heath bar, peanut butter chips, walnuts).
4. Spread batter into greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Holiday Stocking

Alright, I'm breaking the unspoken rule that September is way too early to be planning for Christmas already, but... I finally finished a craft I've been working on since last November! I know, that's a long time, and I can't even blame things like a baby for it. It was just a really slow project.

The project in question was a holiday stocking for my little man. A cross-stitch stocking. For some reason, I thought it would go a lot faster than it did. But it was so detailed and intricate... Ultimately, I love how it turned out. But I would never do it again. Or at least, I said I wouldn't. Until the same day that I uttered those words, a friend gave me a gift of another stocking kit.  Same company, but luckily, this one is just needlepoint and not cross-stitch. I've actually already started on it and made some progress.

I have a hand-made stocking that my grandmother made for me when I was a child. I've always loved having my own, custom stocking, and wanted to do one for Ian as well. My husband is excited that I got another kit so that he can have his own. Maybe I could even finish his in time for this holiday season? No promises - I'm still working on his Halloween costume so he'll be lucky if he gets that in time!

If you are feeling brave (or a lot faster than I am at cross-stitch), here's the link to the kit on Amazon.  It includes everything you need to make the stocking. I added a velvet back because I didn't like the felt that the kit provided, but aside from that, everything was included.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Sorry for the housekeeping post, but Bloglovin' wants me to 'claim' my blog by including this link. So here you go! If you weren't already following me on Bloglovin'... especially with the change over from Google's Reader, then now is a great time to start! :)

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Craft Space

I've had so many blog entries in my head for the last couple of weeks but haven't found the time to put them to 'paper.'  I had the pictures all ready and everything though - I just needed a few minutes to myself.

I finally feel like my craft room is in the proper state for me to... well... craft! This also serves as my home office.  Luckily, I can work from home a fair amount of the time. The sad part is I often end up looking longingly at my craft table.  I do find that it keeps me in a crafty state of mind.

This space is definitely more craft centric than my last one.  You may remember, but my craft room served as a practice space for my Irish dancing, and then later as a guest bedroom.  This new space has my trust craft table (Ikea). I downsized on my fabric stash before the move. I felt like I was hoarding a lot of scraps and pieces that I just wouldn't use.  So I donated a lot of them. Now I just have two cubbies of fabric, and one shelf on my bookcase... though it's slowly creeping up to the filled state as I get back into sewing.  I have one full cubby of embroidery magazine. I love my cross-stitch, but just have so many projects that I want to get to! One day I'll get to them all! (Right??)

The rest of the space is sewing gadets and notions... ribbons, various cutting tools, threads, etc.

My bookshelves hold an assortment of craft books, work books, and a good two shelves each of sewing patterns and yarns. The important stuff.

And with all of this, I've finally started sewing again! Little things - mainly baby crafts. But I've been getting caught up on all of my favorite blogs, finding out who the new, independent sewing pattern designers are, drooling over patterns that I couldn't possibly make in the next two months but want to start hoarding already... ya know, the usual.

So I'll share a few that I've found, but do you have any exciting sewing/blogging finds that you want to share?

Deer & Doe
Saltspring from Sewaholic
Zinnia and Hawthorne from Colette (yup, I bit the bullet and ordered them)
Papercut Watson Jacket... I WANT this so bad
Sew Charleston... new blog find

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sweet Treats Saturday: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Normally I wouldn't post a 'work in progress' but if you want to make an awesome homemade gift for the holidays, now is the time to get started on this one.

I stumbled across these tutorials last year, way too late to get on the homemade vanilla extract train for gifts. I swore I would do it this year and (much to my surprise) I remembered.  This is ridiculously easy to do and only requires a little advance planning.

Here's what you do...

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Recipe from various tutorials throughout the web. I did my own variation based on memory.
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Vodka - as much as you want to make. I purchased two big bottles
Vanilla beans, whole
Bottles to transfer the vanilla extract to once complete
Funnel to help with the transferring process
Optional: Cheesecloth or filter for funnel

1. Divide up your vanilla beans for your bottles. I used approx 3 whole beans for the large bottle of vodka. I don't think you need to do much more than that. I used two for the smaller bottle and just cut them in half.

2. Slice through the center of the vanilla bean to help 'free' the inside vanilla paste from the beans. Place beans in the bottles. Seal bottles.
3. Store bottles in a cool, dark place. Shake them around every week or so. The vanilla extract will be ready in approx. 3 months.  Once it's ready, transfer the vanilla into your bottles. Seal, label, and gift!

You'll find that it doesn't take long before the vodka starts taking on an amber color. Just keep it stored, shaking it from time to time, and soon you'll be ready to divvy up your unique gift.

You can find vanilla beans all over the web! Some quick searches led me to Beanilla, Ebay, and Amazon.  I went with the latter because I was going to be buying a few additional supplies there.  I also picked up a glass bottle to store some of the excess vodka - and to make my own bottle.  But the bottles that I will distribute as gifts will probably be the amber Boston round bottles.  I will post an update to this entry in a few months when I get ready to assemble the vanilla, but I wanted to let you all join in the fun if you decide to make these as a holiday gift!

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Sweet Treats Saturday: Chocolate Bread Pudding

We had family over this past weekend. Ian's grandpa and auntie got to hang out with him. They hadn't seen him since he was six weeks old. Now at almost six months, they were amazed by how big he was and how much more 'aware' and engaged he could be.

We are hoping to see them more now that we're on the same coast, but in the meantime, we had to show them some of the sites around our new home.  We took them to the local farmer's market which is attended by the most incredible French bakery, La Farm.  We picked up a loaf of their fresh bread to last us through the weekend.  Unfortunately for them, they didn't get to finish the loaf as we were out and about so often that whenever we got home, we would be stuffed with things like Carolina BBQ, or other local treats. Fortunately for me, I was left with a day old, crusty bread. I knew exactly what to make with it.

Gooey bread pudding

Chocolate Bread Pudding
Recipe modified from Allrecipes.com
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1 loaf crusty french bread, day old
4 eggs
4 c milk (whole is preferred but I use 1% because I have it in the house)
1/4 c (half a stick) butter, melted and cooled
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 c cocoa powder
2 c sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional: 1 c raisins (I hate raisins in my baked goods so I omitted this)

1. Cut bread into cubes. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla.
3. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix and then add to the large bowl of liquids.  Stir until combined then add bread to bowl.  Press down so the majority is covered.  Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes so liquid mixture will absorb into bread.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Pour bread mixture into a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Bake for approx 1 hour, until bread pudding looks set.
6. Let cool slightly before serving. Best served warm.

Fresh from the oven

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