Friday, February 25

Baby Shower Gift: Reusable Wipes


I recently went to a baby shower for a friend who is interested in using disposable diapers and reusable wipes.  I had never really heard of reusable wipes before (makes sense, though... people had to clean baby bottoms before Pampers ever thought about it, right?), but they were on her registry and looked pretty simple to make, so I thought I'd give it a try.  

I cut pre-washed, unbleached flannel in to 7 1/2" x 7 1/2" squares with a rotary cutter, serged around the edges and called it a day.  Well, I guess I made a little case for the wipes and appliqu├ęd a couple of onesies, then called it a day. :) 


Best wishes, Deanna and Aidan!

Thursday, February 24

Scrap Exchange!


With the nice weather we had last week, I was in the mood for spring cleaning.  It's hard, though, for someone like me to just throw away fabric and crafting supplies, even if I don't want/need them.  So, I thought with all the quilting that is going on around here and here and here, someone might be able use my unwanted scraps or get inspired by my cast-off yardage.  I invited a few friends over for a little craft exchange.  It was very, very fun to go through everyone's fabric and I think everyone walked away with some  new treasures.


Nikki won the prizes for "best guacamole" and "most fabric to trade" with her three enormous Ikea bags, rolling suitcase and sack full of patterns.  I loved seeing all of her costuming fabrics and snagged myself a couple of her patterns.  (She is a professional costumer).


There was lots of good food and hilarious conversation.  


In the end, most of the fabric had found a new home.  The Hancock's near my house is collecting scraps to make quilts for the troops, so that's where all the left over fabric went.  


I had so much fun, I'll definitely be doing this again.  If you want to see more pictures of our Craft Exchange, visit  Kristin's blog.

Wednesday, February 23

Croissant Bread Pudding


I made this recipe for a friend's baby shower/brunch last weekend and I really loved it.  It's from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook-- you know if it's from Ina, it's gonna be good.

The recipe calls for raisins, but I'm not such a big fan of raisins in baked goods... unless they're in oatmeal cookies... so I omitted them.  Also, she suggests serving this pudding with rum whipped cream, but I didn't have any rum on hand, so I just made regular whipped cream and topped it with blackberries.  Where Sam's Club found juicy ripe blackberries in February, I don't know, but they were really good.


Croissant Bread Pudding
Ingredients
  • 3 extra-large whole eggs
  • 8 extra-large egg yolks
  • 5 cups half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 croissants, preferably stale
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside. Slice the croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch ovabaking dish, distribute the bottoms of the sliced croissants, then add the raisins, then the tops of the croissants (brown side up), being sure the raisins are between the layers of croissants or they will burn while baking. Pour the custard over the croissants and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.
Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1-inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn't touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, February 21

UNO Pillow Cases























I am desperate to connect with my little grandsons spread across this nation. When Jenny told me about 2 year old Blake's fascination for the Wild Card in the UNO deck, I wracked my brain to know what I could send him that would let him know how much Grandma J. adores him. And then I was struck with the fact that the dimensions of a an UNO card are very similar to a pillow case. In fact, my high school senior, Isaac, did the math and the width and height ratio is the same!

 Again, with Isaac's help, we made letter stencils on WORD in the appropriate sizes. Digging through my scraps I came up with the right fabric colors, and Heat Bond and a lot of tiny zigzagging did the rest!

Of course, I couldn't send Blake a Wild Card without sending 4 year old Alex the UNO card. After all, he is the one who loves to play the game. Blake just likes to hold the Wild Card.






All bundled up with love in Washington and destined for two grandma- deprived boys in Kentucky.Sure hope they know how much I have thought about them all day today.

Sunday, February 20

Jubilee, Again

 Last year, about this time, I was frantically making three full sized quilts for our PTA's fundraiser auction, called Jubilee.  Crazy?  Yes.  A good cause?  Yes.  Will I ever make three full sized quilts in a month again? No.
 So, even though I'm pretty sure I fulfilled a lifetime's worth of PTA volunteer obligations with those quilts, I have found myself once again crafting for the Jubilee auction.  I can't really complain, though.  Billy and I had a lot of fun at the auction last year and these little suitcases are our ticket into the auction this year.
 My friend and current PTA president, Melissa, suggested that I donate a train case for the auction.  But, I'd really been wanting to try this fabric decoupaging method I recently learned about from a new friend at church.  While vintage suitcases in good condition are hard to find, the day was saved (once again) from the thrifting super-twins, Emily and Terri, and I got to work picking out fabric.  (This project was really a group effort).  It was too hard for me to figure out what look might have mass appeal, so I went with a vintage/shabby chic feel.  The actual process of covering the cases was a lot easier than decoupaging with lots of different paper.  I think the outsides of the cases turned out great.  Read on for the sad part of this story...
If you have ever opened an old suitcase you'll have noticed a certain old-make-up-meets-musty-attic smell.  It is a universal smell found in every vintage case I've ever seen.  But, I'd heard if you re-line the insides, the case won't smell anymore.  I debated whether or not to try re-lining these cases.  On the one hand, they did smell musty when opened and that could affect the potential money raised for the school.  On the other hand, I'd already spent all the time/money I had to spend on this project and I'd never re-lined anything before so I didn't know if I actually could do it.  In the end, I decided to give it a try.  FYI: big mistake.  
I went to Hancock's and picked up some fusible fleece (Kristin's good suggestion) and a roll of huge red rickrack.  I went to work pulling out the old blue lining.  Armed with my glue gun and some yellow broadcloth, I started to glue the fresh yellow fabric fused with the fleece into the case.  It did not turn out well.  The fabric was the wrong size for the inside of the case.  My glue gun was too puny to really hold the new lining in place.  And the gianormous rickrack I'd bought was just big enough to trim out one lid.  When all was said and done, the inside of the case looked like a clown threw up hot glue.  AND I had underestimated how much fleece and fabric it would take and ended up with nothing for the other cases.  So, now, my donation for the auction is a cute set of three nesting suitcases, two with vintage lining and one with clown vomit.  At least I've learned that my skills do not extend to re-lining things.  
Good to know.

The Force and a 4 Year Old

This weekend, we had the rare privilege of having one of our 13 grandchildren visit, alone. We wanted to make it memorable, so Grandpa J., Uncle Isaac and I each decided to do something special with 4 year old Lincoln while he was here. I remembered that the last time I visited him, Lincoln asked if I could make him a Bobba Fett costume. I thought that would be a bit too involved with him here, and decided to make a puppet instead, something he could help make. With inspiration from this website we had a galactic weekend!


Lincoln also drew a gun for Bobba Fett. We used a laminated brown report folder cover and sewed it into place through a slit in the hand.






We didn't have any blue, so he painted some grey felt to give it that beat up look. Lots of hot glue holds the rolled felt into place.
We ventured out on our own to come up with a puppet version of Bobba Fett. We spent a long time studying the features of this character. Can you tell the most important part to Lincoln was the jet pack? He rolled rectangles of felt for this.
Lincoln was keen to sew on the sewing machine, so at first he sat on my lap. We had to make accommodations for the foot pedal. Once, I told him to sit at the machine while I ran upstairs to get my glasses because I couldn't see well enough to thread it. When I came back he had already done it!


His favorite part was painting the light sabers for Darth Vader and Yoda.






Tuesday, February 15

Blog Gap


In the year that Becca and I have had this blog one thing has become apparent: There is a generation gap when it comes to blogging. You may have noticed that almost no one comments on my posts. You may not know it, but not one of my friends has ever visited or friended our blog. In fact when I tell my grandma-aged friends about my blog, they look at me like I have visited another planet meaning it is interesting to hear about but they'll leave the wild frontier to people in space suits.

The thing I have noticed is that a nightgown photographed in my living room lacks the appeal of one photographed in Becca's living room. I used to chalk it up to the natural Arkansas sunlight flooding in through her windows--something that never filters through the Puget Sound fir trees! But more recently I realized I am lacking the 1950's red vinyl chairs, the vintage blues and greens and the eclectic charm she will deny she has. I am also way too literal to be a blogger. When I think of Darth Vader I think costume, whereas Becca thinks applique! I might post a recipe but Becca turns a food into a craze! Lots more fun, and lots more doable!

And finally, the thing that separates a 30 something blogger and a grandma contributer is, alas, age. You girls have way more energy! I can't believe the volume and variety of creative projects that flow out of my darling daughter. I am going to the moon in Becca's rocket, and I am happy to go along for the ride.

Boba Fett Birthday

 Another boy birthday, another Star Wars pillow.  This time, Boba Fett was the man (alien?) of the day.  I put the applique on a standard pillowcase instead of making a throw pillow.  I have to say these and these are getting kind of addictive.  I hope that Shaun has some sweet dreams! 


Monday, February 14

Blogiversary!

image from the small object

Happy 1 year blogiversary to us!  
Dear Blog,
Truthfully, I hadn't really placed a whole lot of emotional importance on you.  For me, you've been a way to record some of my projects, a place to see what my mom has been up to and to ramble (in an effort to ramble less in public).  But, coming up on our one-year anniversary, I am feeling much more connected to you than I expected.  It's kind of endearing that you keep a precious timeline of projects and parties and random thoughts that have been important to me for the last 12 months.  This one year mark has me feeling a little nostalgic and in awe of how slowly and quickly a year can go by.  So, Sweet Blog, what I'm trying to say, is, even though I've only thought of us as friends so far, I really do appreciate you.  And, I'm wondering if, well, would you will be my Valentine?  
xoxo
Becca

Here are some of my favorite memories from the last year:

Hope you all have a special Valentine's, too!




Saturday, February 12

Felicity Says Thank You

Felicity LOVES her new dress (and all the other clothes you sent).  
Thanks, Grandma J!

Friday, February 11

Cinnamon Rolls


Growing up, Mom would make cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, and bread all the time.  Do you know how great it is to be raised in a home that almost always smells like rising dough or baking bread?  Somehow, that baking-with-yeast-gene passed me by.   My skills kills yeast.  But, since we've been snowed in off and on for the past couple of weeks, my thoughts turned toward warm, sweet, and homey.  I found this cinnamon roll recipe online that promised to be easy and tasty, so I thought I'd give it a try.  


It was sketchy there for a while when I poured the dissolved yeast into the mixing bowl, I had a quick flash of panic.  Maybe the bowl was too cold.  Maybe I should have warmed up the eggs.  But, the dough pulled through and rose nicely.  Phew!   I am a fan of thick, cream cheesy frosting.  I used  another recipe for frosting that I found online.  The whole thing turned out really delicious.


Next time I make them, I'm going to use a tip from my friend, Holly, who used to work for Cinnabon.  She said they sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar, instead of white sugar, over the dough right before they roll it up.  Sounds like a good idea to me!


Cinnamon Rolls
Dough
2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
2/3 cup sugar + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warmed milk
2/3 cup butter
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
7 cups flour, or more if needed
Filling1 cup melted butter, divided
1 3/4 cup sugar, divided (try brown sugar for Cinnabon-like rolls)
3 tablespoons cinnamon


Directions
In a small bowl mix together warm water, yeast and sugar and set aside. In a large bowl, mix milk, remaining 2/3 Cup sugar, melted butter, salt and eggs; stir well and add yeast mixture. Add half the flour and beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour until dough is slightly stiff (dough will be sticky). Turn out onto a well-floured board; knead 5-10 minutes. Place in well-buttered glass or plastic bowl, cover and let rise in warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 1-1 1/2 hours. When doubled, punch down dough and let rest 5 min. Roll out on floured surface into a 15x20" rectangle.
Filling: Spread dough with 1/2 Cup melted butter. Mix together 1 1/2 Cup sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over buttered dough. Roll up jellyroll-fashion and pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 12-15 slices. Coat bottom of a 13x9 inch baking pan and a 8 inch square pan with remaining melted butter, then sprinkle with remaining sugar. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in pans. Let rise in warm place until dough is doubled in bulk, about 45 min. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake 25 minutes, or until rolls are golden brown. Cool rolls.
Frosting
1 lb. butter
1 lb. cream cheese
2 lbs. powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Directions
Allow margarine and cream cheese to reach room temperature. Beat cream cheese and margarine together in a bowl with a mixer. Slowly add in all powdered sugar. Once all of the sugar is in the bowl mix for at least an additional 12 minutes.  Add vanilla and beat again until smooth and thick. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 10

Winter Wonderland

This was our front yard yesterday.  It snowed pretty much all day.  We got over 5 inches of powdery goodness and two days off from school.  It has been a nice break from our normal running around.  We've been watching movies, playing video games, eating lots, reading books and huddling by the space heater.  

This was my backyard this morning.  It was positively glittering in the sun!  So beautiful, I had to get a pic.  

Saturday, February 5

12 Squared: February Square

I just finished my square for February-- I know, it's still the first week of the month... if only I were so good with my Visiting Teaching!  It is for an elephant themed quilt for my lovely friend, Holly.  
You can check it out HERE.

Thursday, February 3

Darth Gets a Friend... or Enemy


We were lucky enough to celebrate another friend's birthday last month. Tyler turned the big 0-9 and just happens to be the brother of Cannon (the recipient of the DARTH).  I thought it fitting that the Force be equally represented in their bedroom, so I made this stern looking Yoda pillow.


I sure hope they will have some epic pillow fights.

Happy birthday, Tyler!

Tuesday, February 1

Dolly Folly

After months of company, I am unwinding with sewing clothes for Felicity and Melissa--American Girl dolls recently adopted by two of my grand daughters. As I do so, I have flash backs to my mom's late night doll clothes sewing frenzies. One year she out did herself by sewing Barbie evening gowns as party favors for my sister's birthday. I clearly recollect an elegantly set dining table with 13 doll dresses standing at each place. Sparkling dresses, fur stoles and coats, some slinky, some full with tule--it was quite an exhibit of her creativity. And of course she made the birthday cake, a Barbie in a frosting dress!

With 7 children of my own I never gave doll clothes a second thought. But here I am now, having fun with my first attempts, in time for Valentine's Day!
Mc Call's Pattern 2609 was used for the hooded coat, petticoat, bloomers and pinafore dress.



Cheerleader outfit was made from McCall's pattern 3900. JoAnn's carries a line of knock off American Girl dolls, clothes and accessories at a fraction of the AG cost. I got the tennis shoes at JoAnn's, with a half off coupon, off course! Pompoms were made of 1/8 inch ribbon in 5.5 inch strips, folded in half and bound and sewn with thread. Then I flipped up one of the strands and sewed down the free end for a handle. Hot glue and blue ribbon were used to finish up the top. The cheer top has a velcro closure but the dress, pinafore and coat use small snaps.