Tuesday, September 27, 2011

craft show!

This weekend I secured myself a table at the annual Bonsor Christmas Craft Fair on Saturday, November 19th.  I did this craft fair 5 or 6 years ago with just my cards, and I was completely inexperienced.  I had put no thought into display and set up, and my packaging was minimal.  I can't wait to work on my table presentation this time around.

I'll be selling my greeting cards, as well as many of the items in my etsy shop:  felt hair clips, pacifier clips and toy leashes, some jewelery for mommas, baby blankets, nursing pads, crayon roll ups, embellished onesies, and a few other surprises.  I've also recently picked up my knitting needles and crochet hooks again, and will be doing baby and toddler hats as well.  Here's a little preview of something I whipped up last week:

I'm also looking at trying my hand at creating some crochet and knitted photo props for newborn photography (inspired by our family photo shoot last month).  Stay tuned, and I hope to see you on the 19th!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

citrus coasters

I saw these cute felt citrus coasters a while back on a crafty blog somewhere and I knew I had to try to make them.  They are completely cut and sewn by hand, so they are a bit time consuming, but they look beyond adorable when finished.  I gifted this set to a friend has a house warming present.  Now I've got to make a set for myself!  Perfect for a chilled glass of white on a hot summer day!

Friday, September 9, 2011

felt-y hair clip fun

I'm loving working on these beautiful little hair clips for girls.  If I cut the pieces out at night after the kiddies are asleep, I can hand sew them while I get a few minutes of down time during the day (which doesn't happen MUCH, but I can usually manage to sneak a few minutes here and there).

I bought a bunch of lovely prints yesterday to make some new crayon rolls... they'll be in my etsy shop once they are finished.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

an outfit for addy

My friend's little one recently turned a year old, and I decided I'd like to make her an outfit out of some super cute Riley Blake fabric that was in my stash.  I loved the way the little tunic dress turned out, especially with the tie at the side, and the diaper covers are SO easy to make (are diaper covers for boys a fashion no-no?)  Doing the gathered neckline was a bit tricky, but I love the effect.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

post baby dressing - AKA $#@^$!

Baby B is now almost 3 weeks old.  I can't believe how quickly time is flying, and how seamlessly he fit into our little world here.  Having your second child is easier in so many ways - you have confidence in what you're doing (hey, my first is still alive and breathing so I must have done something right!) and you have most of the gear and things you need already (but hubby draws the line at our son wearing hand-me-down pink clothes). 

My labour and delivery with little B was a bit of a crazy experience, and definitely different from my daughter's birth 3 years ago.  She came naturally on her due date.  With your first, you don't know what to expect when you give birth - I went in with an open mind, no birth plan, and a hope that I could deliver naturally.  All went well.  10 hours of labour and LOTS of laughing gas later, she was born.  My little man was overstaying his welcome, and my doctor decided to induce me at 1 week overdue.  We checked into the hospital at 8:30am and he was born at 12:34pm - a quick 4 hours later.  I had my water broken and was given oxytocin.  All the action happened in the last 30 minutes.  I went from 3cm to birth in less than an hour.  I pushed about 6 times (as opposed to over an hour with my daughter).  It was INTENSE.  Recovery has been a bit harder for me this time, but nursing has been super easy and my little chubbers is gaining weight like a champ.

One of the cruelest things I found in the whole birthing experience is that when you check into the hospital labour and delivery ward, the FIRST thing they make you do is step on the scale.  Great, thanks.  I gained 50 pounds with both my pregnancies.  With them being 2.5 years apart, I had time to lose all the baby weight from the first.  It was a slow and steady process with my daughter, but I eventually lost the weight.  Breastfeeding helped A LOT.  Burning 500 calories a day sitting in my rocking chair lovingly gazing at my kids works for me!

At 2.5 weeks post-partum, I have lost 25 pounds already - that's half of what I gained.  (Happy dance)  Problem is - I am too small for my maternity clothes (and want to burn a bunch of them anyways, I am so SICK of them), but too big for my regular clothes.  What's a girl to do?  I survived the end of my pregnancy wearing hubby's Ts and boxer shorts, and a couple pairs of comfy yoga sweats I got from Costco after Lexi was born.  I'm SO not ready for spandex yet (sorry Lulu's, you'll have to wait).  Here's what I wearing in the mean time:

- nursing tanks - I have a couple Bravado tanks from last time around, and these are great for feeding on the go.  I think I can speak for most new mom's when I say that I'd WAY rather the general public see my boobs than my post-baby belly

- before and after mat pants - I have a couple pairs of 'before and after' pants that I wore when I was around 3-4 months pregnant that I've pulled out of the closet for now.  They are an 'under the belly' style (no big belly panel) and tend to have (sigh) an elastic waistband in the back.  Hey, don't judge, it's survival for now!

- yoga style skirts - I had 2 maternity skirts in the SOFTEST material that I wore a lot in the last month of pregnancy (and have been loaned out to 2 friends who adore them).  I'm happy to say they are TOO BIG now.  I have a similar, non-mat, style that I got an Superstore (Joe Fresh line) after Lexi was born that I'm loving right now

- spanx - yup, don't laugh

I'm glad there will be a couple more months of (hopefully) nice weather so I can get out and walk with the kids.  I've so missed being active.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

over the playdough rainbow

How can you NOT love playing with playdough?  It's been around for years, appeals to boys and girls of all ages, and is a great activity for imaginative play.  I got this homemade playdough recipe from my friend Kim's blog a couple years ago - and I tell ya, it looks, smells, and feels like the real stuff!  The first batch I made lasted for almost 2 years in an airtight container.  It's super cheap to make (you likely have the ingredients you need already in your kitchen with the exception of cream of tartar), and a fun activity to make with your toddler.  One batch makes about 3 fist sized balls, and it's so fun to mix the food coloring to make different colors.  I did batches of this for the gift bags for Lexi's birthday party this past spring.

Homemade Playdough Recipe:

1 cup of white flour
1/4 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of cream of tartar (can be bought with the other spices at the grocery store)
1 teaspoon of vegetable or olive oil
1 cup of warm water
food coloring

Combine ingredients in a large pot on medium heat on your stove, and stir, stir, stir!  Allow to cool and add food coloring.  I have found that working the dough with your hands a lot works in the color and improves the feel of the playdough.  I store it in tupperware airtight containers, or plastic baggies work well too!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

sunglass case tutorial

If I spend money on something, I'm pretty good about taking care of it.  Cellphones, my ipod, my sunglasses.  My current pair I've had for 5 years, and when I bought them, they came in a hard shelled case.  They've been schlepped around in various purses and diaper bags over the last few years, and about a month ago, the hard case cracked and broke - well, technically, the hinges cracked and broke.

I thought about buying a new case, but I thought I would try my hand at making a case with some cute cotton print I picked up recently at Fabricana.  And after my recent spending binges at various stores (just to establish a stash of basics, of course), I already had the interfacing and other supplies I needed.  This was thrown together after Lexi's bedtime in our basement, which is quite dark, so I didn't take any pictures.  (Besides, it's already packed in my hospital bag and I am way to lazy/pregnant/huge to waddle upstairs and get it).  I hope the instructions make sense!

What I Used:
2 pieces of outer fabric - 8 inches by 4 inches
2 pieces of lining fabric - 8 inches by 4 inches
2 pieces fusible fleece - 8 inches by 4 inches
3 strips of cotton 1 inch by 14 inches for ruffles on the front (I used 2 strips from the same fabric as the lining, and one pink strip that matched the outer fabric)
2 inch strip of velcro

What I Did:
1.  I cut all my fabric pieces out with my rotary cutter and mat
2.  I fused the fleece to the 2 outer pieces
3.  I ruffled my 3 strips by stitching the strips down the center of the piece through my machine on high tension and a long stitch length - such a quick and easy way to ruffle fabric!
4.  I attached the 3 ruffles to the front of one of the outer pieces by overlapping the ruffles and sewing them straight down the middle (don't forget to change your tension and stitch length back to the usual before you do this - opps!)
5.  With RIGHT sides together, sew three sides of the 2 outer pieces together (I use a 1/4 inch seam allowance), leaving one of the short edges open.  Turn right side out, clip corners and press. 
6.  Place your scratchy velcro piece (is there a technical term for this?) about an inch down from the top of one of your lining pieces and sew around the edges.  Match up the fuzzy piece of velcro to the other piece of lining and sew around the edges.
7.  With RIGHT sides together, sew three sides of the lining pieces together, leaving one of the short edges open.  Clip corners.
8.  Here's the trickiest part:  With the RIGHT side of your outer pieces facing out, and the WRONG sides of your lining pieces facing out, nestle your OUTER pieces inside your lining pieces.  Match up the top raw edges, and sew around this top edge (it's tricky as the 'neck' of the case is a bit small) making sure to leave at least a couple of inches for turning right side out.
9.  Turn pieces right side out and push the lining down into the case, using a chop stick to poke all the corners into each other.  Press the edges of your opening down and slip stitch this opening closed.

What I Would Change Next Time:
1.  The case is a bit long.  7 inches (versus 8 inches) for the fabric should be plenty long for most shades.  I would also make it 5 inches wide. 
2.  A no-sew snap could be used instead of velcro
3.  Fusible fleece can be a pain to use.  I'd probably use (or upcycle from old baby blankets/sheets) pieces of regular fleece to use as the stabilizer/paddling
4.  I'd cut the ruffle strips longer - 14 inches is a bit short and the ruffling process can be tricky, so I'd rather have extra to cut off than not enough.

VIOLA!  Cute right?  I'm gonna start putting ruffles on everything (except maybe my newborn son, whose due date is TODAY).

Linking to *remodelaholic*
Linking to tatertots and jello

Saturday, July 16, 2011

my first quilt!

I had always assumed that making a quilt was WAY beyond my reach, but I'm proud to say - I DID IT!

Let me preface this by saying that I did NOT piece 12,034 bits of fabric together.  I did it the laaaaazy way and did cute printed cotton on the top and white kona fleece on the back.  I basically followed the pattern for the 'reversible tied quilt' in the modern crib set from Amy Butler's 'Little Stitches for Little Ones' with a few of my own changes (which as a novice/moving into intermediate territory sewer, I'm finding I need to do a lot of).

I didn't take any pictures of the quilt making process, but to anyone who can sew the instructions are very straightforward.  I cut my blue and white fabric 36x50 inches, and the fleece and quilt batting 2 inches wider (so 38x52 inches) to allow for better piecing.  The patterns calls for 2 layers of batting, but I used one and think it looks and feels great as is.  I just bought a package of crib quilt batting, so there was only minimal cutting required.  I pinned all 3 layers together with safety pins while I sewed.  I did french straight binding, which seemed easier then bias binding to me.  My fabric wasn't long enough for the required piece (190 inches) so I had to sew extra on the end, and I'm happy to say you can't tell where it's joined.  To attach the binding, I matched the raw edges of the cotton and the binding and sewed around.  You can then trim the batting and back fabric to match the front, and fold over the binding and attach to the back.  Doing the slip-stitching around the binding on the back was definitely tedious, but it's a good sit in front of the TV activity to keep one's hands busy.  I tied it with light blue embroidery floss, spacing the ties about 6 inches apart (which conveniently fell in the middle of the white dots).  The finished size of the quilt is 36 x 50 inches, plenty big for a crib, and big enough to last well into toddlerhood.

The blue/white/brown colors go so well with the baby's room, and I see this quilt getting plenty of use for years to come.  White might not have been the best choice of color for the back, but it looks beautiful and the kona fleece is soooo soft.  Now I'm gonna have to make one for my daughter too (you've gotta be fair after all!)

It's a mad scramble trying to get a few last minute projects done before baby comes.  I've just done some placemats, and I'm trying to work on some Christmas crafts in preparation for submission to show at got craft in early December.  Next up is an apron for my daughter - stay tuned!

Linked up here

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

chocolate brownies (I'm on a roll here...)

Are you detecting a theme here?  Pregnant lady stuck at home waiting for baby to come with nothing to do but bake and stuff her face?

I wouldn't consider myself an all-star cook or baker.  I can whip up almost anything from a recipe and it turns out decently.  I certainly do OK, and I do love to bake especially.  I know I do a few things REALLY well.  These brownies are one of them.

I haven't made brownies in a while, and I can't remember why.  They are so... dang... good.  I use my mom's recipe, and make my own icing from scratch.  It's so much yummier than the store bought stuff.  I have been known to make a (small... ish) bowl of just icing and eat it with a spoon.  Sick, I know, but no worse than those of you who eat it out of the store bought container, or eat raw cookie dough right from the package... not that I've done EITHER of those things before... ahem.

Chocolate Brownies:

Cream together:
1/2 cup margarine (you can use butter, but I like the results with margarine better)
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together dry ingredients:
3/4 cup white flour
1/3 cup of cocoa (I use the good stuff - it always make a difference)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add to wet ingredients.  Grease a square baking pan and pour in mixture.  Bake at 325F for approximately 25 -30 minutes.  Allow brownies to cool completely before icing (this is sooooo hard to do!)

Chocolate Fudge Icing

2 cups icing sugar
2 teaspoons of cocoa
2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
2 tablespoons of milk or coffee cream

Cream ingredients together.  Add milk/cream until you reach your desired consistency (I like my icing a bit thicker).  Spread over brownies, and don't forget to lick the bowl!

this one's for the boys...

I couldn't leave the boys out of the crayon roll up fun.  I found several super cute boy prints at Fabricana and here's my first boy-inspired roll.  This one (as well as the Strawberry Fields print) are available in my shop.  Cars and trucks print (as well as another precious print combo for girls) coming soon!

Monday, July 11, 2011

minky love (and hate)

Minky is something you've probably seen (and fondled) before, but had no idea what it's called.  It's a super soft, fleecy type fabric that you see in many baby projects these days, mainly blankets.

A few months ago, I bought some minky in order to try my hand at sewing some ribbon sensory blankies.  Man, this stuff is NOT fun to sew with.  It is slippery and stretchy at the same time - and once perfectly lined up seams pucker and drift apart easily.  So while I love the softness of the fabric for babies, sewing with it is a pain in the butt.

This the ribbon sensory blanket I made for my little man a few months ago (the minky is the brown dotted fabric you see on the back).  You can buy minky plain or dotted.  Babies seems to love the dotted texture for blankies.

This put together this cute pink number for a friend who recently had her second little girl.  I used plain white minky for two of the squares on the front, and the brown dot minky on the back.

I also got really ambitious and made a minky change pad cover for the change table.  Lots o' work, but love the result.  Have to make another since the fleece ones I used for my daughter are all a) girly colors and b) washed and worn to within an inch of their lives.

The possibilities for minky in baby sewing are endless - bibs, blankets, burp cloths, stuffy toys, sheets (now THAT would be some work).  Any other fun ideas you'd like to see in minky?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

cute crayon roll up

Anyone who has toddlers knows that you need something to entertain them when you're out and about - restaurants, waiting at the doctor's office (which I do a LOT of lately being over 38 weeks pregnant!).  My girl LOVES to color and draw, and up until now, I've been throwing her crayons into a ziplock baggie in the diaper bag and heading out the door. 

I made a few of these super simple crayons rolls over the last week and L loves hers.  It has spots for 16 crayons (or slim markers, pencil crayons, etc), and she is able to open and close it herself with a simple, colorful elastic closure.  It's completely machine washable as well.  I'll be adding these to my etsy shop soon, and will try to put up a tutorial in case you are interested in making some yourself (including cutting fabric, I can whip one up in under half an hour - a perfect naptime craft!)

Friday, July 8, 2011

thee best chocolate chip cookies ever!

What's a pregnant lady days away from delivery to do when the weather is shoddy, she can stand for maaaaybe 10 minutes at a time, and has a squirrely toddler to entertain?  MAKE COOKIES OF COURSE.  I have been using this same chocolate chip cookie recipe for at least the last 10 years.  I think that it came off of a chocolate chip package, and I believe the secret to the crunchy outside/gooey inside yumminess factor is using shortening, not butter or margarine (although I insist on using margarine in my brownies, but that's another post!)

Allie's Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
Combine the above ingredients. 
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir until combined.
Mix together the following dry ingredients:
1 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add to wet mixture.  Add approximately 1 cup of high quality chocolate chips (we buy the Chipits in the huge bags from Costco).

Drop by the teaspoon onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes at 350F.  Eat warm with milk (of course).

My assistant and I whipped up a quick batch this afternoon.  I think she enjoyed them:

 Did we eat the whole bowl?  You betcha!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

simple car seat canopy

I've been pulling out the baby gear from storage the last little while (and remembering the insane number of C and D size batteries all these gadgets take!) in preparation for our little man's arrival.  We went with gender neutral prints for pretty much everything (the 1-2-3 Tea for Me Exersaucer was the exception, but I bought it in a moment of weakness when our daughter was 5 months old, cutting her first teeth and hubby was on a business trip to China). 

Our carseat from last time around is still good - you know that carseats 'expire' like sour milk, right?  I decided to whip up a simple car seat canopy to keep the sun, rain, and germy strangers' hands off the kiddo.  I would use a receiving blanket over the seat last time, but this looks so much cuter.  I used the same fabrics I bought for his baby quilt (which is nearly finished as well - stay tuned!!).  

The project turned out to be really simple.  The finished canopy is about 35x40 inches, and I used the interior print to make the handlebar attachments, which fasten with velcro.  It only took a couple hours to put together.

The nursery is almost finished - once we've got everything ready, I'll post some pictures. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

my first treasury!

I made my first treasury on etsy!  Click on over to have a look :)

Pinwheel treasury

Friday, July 1, 2011

canada day fun

Happy Canada Day everyone!

I have just discovered pinterest.  If you haven't heard about it, here's a bit about it (from the pinterest website):

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.
Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

I haven't had too much time to play around yet, but it looks like it could get addictive.  In honour of Canada Day, I pinned a few Canada Day inspired photos and ideas at the link below.  Click on over and see if you likey.  If your 'pinterest' is piqued (tee hee, sorry, couldn't resist), you can request an invite from me.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

felt barettes

I've been whipping up several of these super cute hair barettes in different styles made from felt the last few days.  So easy to do, and I like the fact that they are all hand sewn - I don't have to be sitting at my machine to make them.  I'm also waiting on a stash of alligator clips in the mail (dang Canada Post and the strike back-log) to make some grosgrain ribbon clippies.  Gosh I'm glad Lexi finally grew some hair to do something with!

mommyhood: lessons learned

Lesson 1:  You are the only person who cares if your dishes are washed, the laundry is done, and if there are toys all over the floor.  Leave it for later, and have another tickle fight with your kiddo instead.

Lesson 2:  Never say 'never.'  Before my daughter was born I said we would never let her sleep in our bed.  Also avoid using the words 'never' and 'tv,' 'junk food,' and 'pacifier' in the same sentence.

Lesson 3:  Don't judge the other mommies.  We are all trying to do our best for our children.

Lesson 4:  Let your husband (or mom, or friends) help you when they offer.  In fact, take the help and then RUN, not walk, to your nearest coffee house for a well-deserved break.  YOU CANNOT DO IT ALL BY YOURSELF.

Lesson 5:  IT'S ONLY A PHASE.  Yes, you will
a) sleep again
b) be able to use the bathroom or shower without a little person watching you
c) wear underwire bras again
d) eat food with both hands, before it gets cold, and have a proper convo with your hubby while doing so

Lesson 6:  Your child is ALWAYS watching you and learning from you.  Be careful about what you say, and how you say it.

Lesson 7:  Make time to play pony castle for the third time that day, and pull out the paints even though you REALLY don't want to.  Soon they will be coming home from school, going in their rooms, and closing the door.

Lesson 8:  Make the effort to put on a bit of make-up, do your hair, and put on a cute top.  It WILL make you feel better, even if you only got 3 hours sleep.

Lesson 9:  Learn to buy and make REALLY good coffee (or get on a first-name basis with your local Starbucks barista)

Lesson 10:  Enjoy every moment (and find the humor in them, even when you don't feel like laughing) because they go by way too fast...

Friday, June 24, 2011

make your own labels

When I started selling my handmade cards several years ago, I had a custom stamp made up with a logo and my email address on it.  This stamp still gets lots of use, although I'm starting to think the logo could use a re-vamp.  I had a custom return address stamp made up by tickled pink paper ink on etsy and love it (and love her aesthetic) so I'm thinking of getting her to do a new one for me.

Anyhow, now that I'm starting to make other things, I was trying to figure out a way to put my name on them.  I love the natural look of cotton twill tape, so I looked into having some personalized for me.  Yikes, expensive.  My good friend Mr. Google led me to this fabulous tutorial about making your own.  Luckily I realized we own a laser (NOT an inkjet) printer BEFORE I put the transfer paper in it, so off to Mom and Dad's I went to print there (and Mom made me a childhood favorite for lunch to boot - thanks Mom!)

They turned out really well!  I still need to try the 'parchment paper re-iron' trick to get rid of the bit of shininess, but alas, there is no parchment paper in this house, and I am MUCH too lazy (and pregnant) to go to the store JUST for that (although it's always a good excuse to buy more ice cream... hmmm....)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Felting Wool 101

After my doctor's appointment this afternoon - I'm in my 36th week - yikes - how did THAT happen - I wandered into the thrift store across the street.  I had heard some of my crafty friends talk about felting wool before, and my interest was piqued.  I only had time to check out the sweater section (mens and womens) and scored two 100% wool sweaters for 10 bucks.  I actually considered keeping one for myself, as it's 100% cashmere from Barney's and cost $5 (and like I'd EVAH be able to afford whatever that cost retail), but it's a turtleneck, and just not my style.  The other is a lovely brown wooly men's sweater.

My understanding of how to felt wool is basic - throw it in a hot wash with something abrasive like a tennis ball, and then dry on high heat.  I'm sure many people do this as an oopsie (or perhaps innocent hubbies trying to be helpful have accidentally felted their wives' cashmere) but I'm gonna chuck them in there on purpose (after a trip to scour my local SA around the corner as it's much bigger and I expect a better score).

What can you do with felted wool?  I plan on trying my hand at making some accessories - flowers for hair clips, hair bands, or necklaces.  With larger pieces you could do a little clutch bag, or even cute stuffy toys for baby - the possibilities are endless.

Some inspiration:

                                        Marang Studios


                               felt food by homemade by jill