Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fabric Covered Easter Eggs

I've never really had an Easter decorations, and this year I was determined to change that! I had pinned decorations like these a few weeks ago on pinterest, and decided to make my own. I used plastic eggs, fabric scraps, and modpodge that I already had, so it was free! I just used my rotary cutter to cut strips that were about 1"x3". Then I "painted" modpodge on sections of the egg and attached the strips one at a time. After that dried, then I coated each fabric covered egg with a thin layer of modpodge. Here's one that's finished:
I nestled the eggs in a bowl on top of strips of fuzzy green fabric "grass", arranged some fake flowers from Michael's in vases around it, and I had a little Easter/spring centerpiece for my table!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Taste of Something Sweet

Although I have some tried-and-true baking recipes that I return to again and again (many of which involve a jump start from Betty Crocker or the Pillsbury doughboy), I love trying something new. With Barley's birthday party with my family coming up, I decided to try a new cake recipe, cake bites, and homemade marshmallows! For the marshmallows I used the recipe here from Martha Stewart, originator of so many fabulous things! I don't have a candy thermometer or a standing mixer, but they came out just fine! I looooved tasting the "batter" before it set--it was like extra gooey marshmallow fluff- Yum! I think I liked it better than the finished product, ha! I cut mine out in heart shapes (which my husband then said was kind of girly for a boy's birthday but I only have heart, pumpkin, or duck cookie my choices were limited.)
Of course, just plain marshmallows weren't enough...I had to cover them in chocolate! I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave and then spread it across half of each heart and let it harden before putting them in a tupperware. You can see the finished product in the top photo with the cake bites (in a green bowl).
The cake bites (like cake pops sans sticks) turned out really yummy! (Yes, they're actually called cake balls but I must be really immature since I can't use that term without thinking of the SNL sketch with Alec Baldwin and his "shvetty balls"--am I the only one?) I used the recipe here ( but with homemade chocolate cake, homemade cream cheese frosting, and Wilton's dark chocolate melts. I actually preferred the way they tasted before they were coated in chocolate! I think that uncoated they would be awesome as part of a dessert station with chocolate fondue!! Mmmm. The chocolate cake was a new recipe too, and I found it here ( It was really nice and moist, it's definitely bookmarked to try again. I thought it would be fun to do a little picture of Lightning McQueen on it, who Barley calls "happy car!" I just dipped a toothpick in food coloring gel and used that to draw the image over the frosting. All in all, I was very happy with the outcome and will definitely be revisiting the chocolate cake and cake bites again soon!
As you can see, we enjoyed the cake! Mmmm...nice and moist.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Budding Sewer

In the days leading up to Barley's birthday, I was in a mad dash to finish sewing the playmats I was making him. This comes directly after a long hiatus from making anything, so Nenna noticed all of the time I was spending at the sewing machine and was very interested. She's expressed a desire to sew in the past, but after a few stitches with a needle and thread has lost interest pretty quickly. A few days ago she told me she wanted to make a quilt with a needle and thread for Puppy, and could I please help her? (Puppy is her favorite stuffed animal, and I bet you can't guess what kind of animal she is, hehe. Nenna is very original in naming her animals: puppy, monkey, bear...) So I cut out a small rectangle for her out of felt and she instructed me in what colors and shapes she wanted to sew onto it. I showed her how to thread the needle and make a knot. She was already becoming distracted at this point, but once I handed the needle over to her, she sat and sewed the little pieces on by herself. She was very engrossed in her work and I could tell she was thinking about where each piece should be arranged and where each stitch should go. I was so proud of her, but more importantly, she was so proud of herself! I hope that this is a sign of things to come and that she'll grow up loving to sew as much as her Mommy!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Zip-Up Clutch For a Friend

My friend just moved to Italy for a few months to work for the organization Young Life. I'm so excited for her and wanted to give her a little something fun for her trip that would be useful but cute too! I thought a little zip-up clutch would be perfect because she'll need to keep all her bits and bobs organized while living away from home. (In case you're wondering, I pick up fun phrases like "bits and bobs" from my English husband). :-) I saw this really cute gathered clutch tutorial here on the blog Noodlehead and got started! I didn't bother putting in any card holders or dividers as I envisioned this being more of a make-up or jewelry holder. I love how it turned out!
And here's the back:
This is my second time sewing in a zipper, and it's really not difficult! I don't know why I was afraid of them for so long. Now if I can only overcome my aversion to the buttonhole foot for my sewing machine...
This was a great tutorial and a fun clutch to make. My friend loves it too! Now I want to make one for myself. :-)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Playmat Remix: A Car Playmat Tutorial (sort of)

For Barley's birthday, I also made a playmat for his matchbox cars. He loves cars! I looked around online and saw some cute playmats with little town layouts and roads for the cars to drive on. My absolute favorite was found here: (, on the blog Homemade by Jill. I love her projects! I liked the look of that, but wanted it to be portable, so I combined that with a toy holder I saw that closes like a drawstring bag. The cars can be stored right in the playmat and the whole thing can be tossed into my bag when we're heading out the door. I didn't take detailed photos, but I thought I could write how I did it, in case it's helpful. I started out by drawing a detailed picture of how I wanted the whole playmat to look. It had to be round, since I was going to add a drawstring at the end. Here's my original "blueprint" hehe:
I put in a gas station, our house, our church, and the fire station, as well as train tracks (all of which are noteworthy parts of our neighborhood). I had this whole elaborate plan to create an overpass where the train tracks cross over the road on a little bridge. I decided to add the bridge in later, and just sewed in velcro so that I can make a bridge and stick it on there another time! Hopefully I can add that later in another post. I didn't take any pictures of the next step, which was an insane amount of tracing, sticking, and cutting (tracing the shapes backwards onto fusible web, sticking it to felt, and cutting all the pieces! The pieces need to be cut out backwards so that when you're ironing them onto the backing they are then facing the right way. Does that make any sense?) Once I had all my pieces ready, it was just a matter of ironing it all down. I did it in stages. Stage One:
Stage Two. (I should probably mention here that my sewing space is our front closet, which also houses shoes and coats among other things...hence, the shoe rack in the background!)
Stage Three. Here I decided I wanted to add a few cartoonish aspects, like the water drops coming out the of car wash, the sunshine over the church (so cheesy, right? Hehe), and the red symbols representing the siren blaring from the fire station.
Stage Four. Completing the road and train tracks:
Stage Five. This is when I headed to my sewing machine and top-stitched over most of the pieces. If you are making a playmat for an older or more gentle child than you can probably skip this step. But my little man loves crashing the cars together and really going at it, so I knew I should sew the pieces down too, just to be share it stays in one piece! When sewing the roofs I did it in a few lines to look more like shingles. I also sewed curvy lines on the driveway to look textured, like stones. I didn't have the patience to do the letters though-that's a little too precise for me!
I also sewed the end of a shoelace onto the gas pump as a little hose.
Here I completely forgot to take pictures. I cut out 8 strips of store-bought quilt binding that were about 4 inches long each. I folded these in half lengthwise and ironed them (these became the loops to hold my drawstrings). Then I took my backing fabric and cut it to the same shape as my playmat. I lay the playmat face up, then pinned the binding loops around the edge, spaced out evenly, and with raw edges aligned. Then I put the backing fabric on top, face down, and pinned around the edges to keep it from shifting. I sewed all the way around, leaving a space for turning. Then I cut little notches around the outside (without clipping through any seams!), turned it right side out, pressed it flat, and topstitched all the way around the edge, enclosing the opening I left for turning. Finally, I took two long lengths of store-bought bias tape, threaded them through my loops around the perimeter, and tied them off. Here is how it turned out! From the front:
From the back:
All cinched up and ready to go!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Homemade Dinosaur Playmat

My little guy (Barley) is turning 2 on Wednesday! We decided to keep his gift list short, and I wanted to make a few things that I had seen online recently. He now loves dinosaurs, cars, trains, and superheroes -- typical boy stuff! So I thought a few little playmats would be perfect to make. I started with a felt dinosaur playmat that is based on the one found here on the blog Serving Pink Lemonade. I love how it turned out!
I drew out the design on tracing paper, then traced each piece backwards onto fusible web and stuck that onto different colors of felt. Then I cut each shape out of the felt, arranged it on a large, background rectangle of felt, and ironed all the pieces down to adhere them. I purposefully only fused a large grey "boulder" piece around the edges so that there was a pocket left there as a little dino cave.
Here it is from the back. I used the cutest dinosaur fabric that I could find at Joann's, the only fabric store near me. I finished the edges with bias tape, then sewed it to the back of the front piece.
I also added the feature of a zipper on the back, so that all the dinosaurs could be stored away right in the playmat. Add a bag of little plastic dinos from the dollar store, and you have a great gift for any little guy!