27 July 2011

Birthday Recap

Well I've been desperately trying to catch up on dishes and more dishes housework, so I haven't done much crafting or sewing in the past week. I thought I'd give you the birthday recap I said I would. First of all, it was great. My family (especially Hubs) and friends made me feel so blessed and it was just an all around enjoyable day!
I opened some presents before we went to dinner. Hubs was smart and looked at my Pinterest boards for ideas. He saw a necklace, but unfortunately the link didn't work. So he looked on Etsy until he found the exact necklace! How great is he?? I was totally surprised and excited! I won't detail everything I got, but lets just say everybody must know me really well because I LOVED everything!

Note to self: must use flash in PF Changs. We got the waitress to take a picture, and silly me didn't check before we left to make sure it was a good one. It looks ok in black and white, but you should see the original orange version haha.
After PF Changs we walked around the outdoor shopping center and made a few stops. We hardly ever go into Macy's, but we were looking for a bathroom so we went in and I found a dress perfect for the Air Force ball this fall. On clearance. In my size. Happy Birthday to me!

Thanks to all of my family for making me feel so special and loved. And especially thanks to Hubs for taking me out and having a fun night even though he had a project due and ended up staying up late to finish.

Coming up sometime soonish on the blog:
  • Post about the shirt that went horribly wrong and hopefully my solution to salvage it...I haven't exactly come up with the solution part yet
  • I'm going to attempt to recover an old jewelry box with mod podge and fabric
  • Possibly probably some baby item since I'm going to visit my niece in August
I hope everybody is having a good week so far!
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22 July 2011

Pillowcase dress for baby

Guess I'm on a little bit of a baby clothes making kick. I decided to make a top similar to a pillowcase dress for myself, got halfway through and decided to make a pillowcase dress for a friend at church who's having a baby girl soon. Too bad my top won't be able to compare in cuteness since it's hard to beat a tiny dress with a bow like this.
I think I may like this one even better than the last baby dress I made. And it's even easier! (I just hope it fits...I didn't exactly use a pattern and didn't have any baby clothes to compare it to : / ) I looked around a little bit at patterns/tutorials for these, but wasn't seeing exactly what I was planning on doing so I basically threw everything out the window and just did my own thing.

Here's what I did, I'll update the post after baby gets to try it on and tweak the dimensions if I need to. Cut 2 rectangles 10"x15" (I would suggest cutting more like 12"x15" because mine looked really tiny). Cut curves out for armholes; I used this template. I scooted the template down about an inch from the top, like this:
Then I sewed the two rectangles together on the edges (right sides together). Hem the bottom; I folded the edge up 1/2" then up another 1/2".

I used this tutorial at Prudent Baby for finishing the armholes with bias tape. I think it really took the dress up a notch as far as looking more professional. And made me wish I was doing that on the shirt I started for myself haha.

For the top you need a tube to feed the ribbon or fabric tie through. I folded the edge under 1/4" then down about 1" and sewed along the edge. Kind of like the picture below.
Then you just feed your ribbon through and tie it in a bow.
Then say "aww that is so cute!' in a little baby voice. Oh wait, I guess you don't have to do that part, but I'm pretty sure that's what I did. : ) I was taking pictures of the dress for the blog, and you can really only take so many pictures of a dress hanging on a hanger. Since I don't have any spare newborns laying around I had to rope Fred into trying it on.
Sorry Fred.
I have to say, it does look pretty good, even on a monkey. Which means it should be even cuter on a little baby girl (assuming she can fit...). Stay tuned for possible pattern updates. The concept of the dress is really simple though, so you can just adjust the dimensions based on the size of the girl.

Have a great weekend!
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19 July 2011

Get Free Stuff

Wanna know how to get free stuff? Just be born. Seriously. I guess I've been gradually signing up for emails for different restaurants and stores and this year it just hit me how many free things you can get. If you aren't taking advantage of this, you definitely should. I could've eaten out for free my whole birthday week if we lived near any of these places. (Unfortunately our little town doesn't have about 75% of the places that sent me stuff, so I'll have to wait until next year.)

I thought I'd give you a quick run-down of who's giving what for birthdays. No one is sponsoring this post, I just wanted to share the birthday love! Also, to avoid getting a bunch of unwanted email I have a separate account that I always list when sites ask for my email. I still check it regularly, but I can usually delete most emails.
  • Sunglass Hut - $20 in store coupon (no minimum purchase! And before you say there's nothing in that store under $20 think holders and cleaning kits.)
  • Moes - free entree 
  • Qdoba - buy one get one free
  • Firehouse Subs - free medium sub
  • Starbucks - free drink (I think this is because I registered my Starbucks card...which was also free from my bank hehe)
  • Red Robin - free burger
  • Cold Stone - buy one get one free (pretty sure this one used to be totally free, but oh well)
  • Ihop - free Rooty Tooty Fresh n' Fruity
  • World Market - $10 (no minimum purchase! I got a mug, a ring holder, and some chocolates and only spent 16 cents!)
I'm sure that there are others, but I was pretty excited about all of these! Next year I'm going to eat well (assuming the Air Force moves us somewhere that has this stuff)!  Tonight Hubs and I are going out to PF Changs to celebrate, compliments of my aunt : ) I'll try to take a few pictures at dinner (and of the goodies my family sent!) to post later. Have you found any other great birthday deals?
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14 July 2011

Lena Beth and the tiny dress

I thought I'd share some pictures of the dress I made my niece! And share some pictures of her because she's adorable, and who doesn't want to see pictures of adorable babies?

I used the pattern from Made by Rae for the Itty Bitty Baby Dress. I used the bigger size since "little" Lena was 8lb. when she was born. I also enlarged it to 105% or 110%, I can't remember. I wanted her to be able to wear it for a while and since I haven't seen her in person (*gigantic sadface*) I didn't want to err on the too small side.
(See the tiny hanger? We didn't have any baby hangers and it was too small to fit on a normal one so I took one of those pants hangers you get from the cleaners, took the cardboard tube off and bent it to form an itty bitty hanger for an itty bitty dress hehe)

The dress came together pretty easily (read: no zippers on buttons to slow you down). But it did involve piping and bias tape, which I had never used before. And I still haven't used piping...I kind of just rigged the bias tape to work for that since I didn't have any on hand.
I untied the straps for a picture so you can see what the straps look like.
I also added an itty bitty tag so you could tell which was the front and which was the back (you might be able to see it better if you click on the picture to enlarge it). The front and back patterns are identical, so it wouldn't really matter except I put all of the seams for the bias tape/piping on one side and I wanted that to be the back.
Her Mommy and Daddy were sweet enough to take a picture of her wearing it for the first time!
I'm glad it's a little big, maybe she'll still be able to wear it when I visit next month! Now for a few more baby pictures because I'm a proud aunt : )
the happy family
It seems like whenever she is awake, she's looking around at everything. Especially in the top right picture, haha! My sister-in-law said she sat like that for a few minutes! I seriously can't wait to visit! A big thanks to everybody who's been snapping pictures and sharing them, I love seeing them.

If you have a baby girl or are related to one or remotely know one, I would really suggest this dress. The pattern was easy to follow, I finished it in an afternoon, and it doesn't require a ton of fabric since it's itty bitty. And it's tiny and cute - does anyone else notice that the tinier something is the cuter it is?
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12 July 2011

Cake Pop Dos and Don'ts

I have been in love with cake pops for a while. Who wouldn't after seeing pictures like these?
Could cake BE any cuter??

Yeah, those definitely aren't mine. I thought I'd pass on my experience and also send you to the site I used when I was working on them (Suburbs Mama made the red ones in the first picture). Pretty basic step-by-step instructions, although she used a stand mixer and I didn't.

In case you've been living under a rock don't know what cake pops are, I'll fill you in. Baked cake, crumbled up and mixed with frosting then dipped to form a candy or chocolate shell.

I doubled the recipe since we had friends staying with us and the baby shower. I made 2 funfetti cakes (and remembered how ridiculously easy it is to make cake from a box, it was great). I let them cool overnight then piled them in the biggest bowl we own. It was really nice to not worry about getting the cakes out of the pan nicely.
It was a lot of cake!
Then I started stirring it. I think I used a fork mostly. It was my arm workout for the night. Ok, it wasn't that hard, but those cakes don't crumble themselves.
The size condensed quite a bit when it was crumbled, but that didn't save me from spewing crumbs on the table a few times in the process.
Having your laptop near the bowl isn't the best idea FYI. Unless you like funfetti on your keyboard. Then you should scoot it as close to the bowl as possible! In the picture above I had already started stirring the frosting in (1/2 tub of frosting per cake, so I used the whole package of frosting), so the mixture was even smaller. Make sure the cake and frosting are combined really thoroughly...when I got down to the bottom of my mixture I realized the frosting didn't make it all the way down.

Then you get messy. There's really no getting around it. Start forming the cake balls. I put some on waxed paper and some on foil I think. Anyway, they go into the freezer for 10-ish minutes.
In the tutorial, her freezer is seemingly empty. I don't know how she maintains that, but ours needed some serious rearranging to fit the cake pops in. I found I could roll about 30 pops in 10 minutes. Overall the two cakes make around 60-70 pops. That's definitely an estimate because this was over a week ago now and I didn't write anything down. : )
Melt a little of your candy/chocolate coating and dip the stick in then put the cake pop on. I picked all of the pops up to put the stick in because I didn't want to end up with a bunch of flat-topped cake pops from pushing them into the pan. (Hopefully that made sense...little did I know, I could've left the balls lumpy since my dipping job wasn't the best) Then back into the freezer for 20-ish minutes (this took even more rearranging since the pops now had sticks).
The final step was by far the hardest in my opinion. Actually, everything up to this point was pretty easy. Follow the directions for melting the candy melts and start dipping (I used two 12 or 14 oz packages of the candy melts and it wasn't quite enough to cover all of the pops). Most tutorials mention "tapping off the excess" which is a great idea. Nobody wants a clumpy thick shell, but if I got a little too tappy the cake pop fell off the stick : (
Of course the guys didn't mind a few cake pop casualties, but I'm not sure how to avert certain cake pop death. Maybe my pops were too big or I didn't push the stick in far enough. Also, I was too cheap to buy a styrofoam block to stick them into while they dried. That was dumb. Save yourself some stress and shell out $3 for one. Cake pops are not very good at balancing in cups.
I was constantly performing a balancing act, putting the wet ones into the coffee mug or glass then rotating them to the mason jars when they were dry. (And using tons of napkins because occasionally I had to catch one that decided to jump out of the drying cup so I kept getting the melted candy all over my hands.)
Sadly, those are the closest to finished pictures I got. I made half of them with a chocolate coating and served them in the mason jars. I didn't realize the sticks wouldn't be tall enough for the mason jars so I ended up putting marshmallows in the bottom to prop the sticks up. In the end I really liked having the marshmallows in the mason jars, I thought it kind of went with all of the other polka dot elements.

Even though they weren't as smooth as I was hoping for they were a big hit at the shower and probably an even bigger hit with the guys. We had no problem finishing off the leftovers! I will probably try making them again at some point (they were seriously really tasty and slightly addictive). I will not make them again unless we're having people over though. This is probably the unhealthiest dessert I've made in...well, a long time. It's no big deal if you only have 1 or 2, but they definitely aren't very nutritious.

Good luck if you try making them, and even if they're ugly they'll still be yummy : ) I'd love to hear any tips you have on making the candy shell smoother and/or how you get the cake pops to stay on their stick while you dip them!
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07 July 2011

30 Minute Denim Shorts

These are super-quick to make. And you don't even need a sewing machine!
Who has a pair of jeans they never wear? Yeah, pretty much everyone. I just recently got the memo that flared jeans aren't all the rage anymore (you don't have to be embarrassed to be with me anymore sis!). So I had a pair that were a little tattered on the bottom hem, and I just wasn't crazy about the style.

I've had my eye on these shorts for a while, but was not about to pay $34.50 or even the sale price of $24.50.
Call me crazy, but I don't even like to pay more than $24.50 for my jeans and shorts have half the fabric! I'm also headed to Disney this weekend where it will actually be warm enough to wear shorts! Flared jeans I never wear + picture of cute shorts = new shorts for Susan!

I tried my jeans on and found where I wanted my shorts to end then made a mark 2" below that since I wanted to roll the bottom up. To cut the other leg the same I folded the jeans in half and marked my line to cut.
Just wanted to double-check and make sure I didn't cut one leg shorter than the other, so this is how they look before I rolled them up.
Next you're going to fold the bottom up about 1" and press. Then fold it up again (so the raw edge is hidden) and press again. You could just go with one fold and have the cut edge exposed, but I didn't want to deal with strings hanging off after I wash them.
After that I made a few stitches on each side to keep everything from moving around.
Now try them on and admire the shorts that you made in (probably) less than half an hour. For a whole lot less than $24.50.
And this is my "yay, I'm going to Disney" face!
So go find your slightly-less-stylish-than-they-used-to-be jeans and cut away!
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