Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Upcycle: Striped Shirt to Dress

I recently went through my donate pile and found this Abercrombie and Fitch striped shirt.  It was originally an off the shoulder style shirt that had grown too small for me.  I'd like to think  that the shirt got smaller, not that I got bigger.  :)  I rescued it from my pile because it reminded me of a post that I pinned from Make it  and Love it.
T-Shirt into Dress with Braided Collar by Make it Love it

I unfortunately forgot to take a picture of the before.

  • First, I took the shirt, cut off the bottom 2 stripes so that I could use the original hem.  I gathered it to the width I wanted it. 
  •  Next, I also took off the sleeves so I could use the original hem from them also.  I changed the width of the sleeves from adult size to kid's size. 
  • I then laid out the rest of the shirt and cut it to the size I wanted.  I used a dress that fit her to help me estimate. 
  • I sewed the body pieces together.
  • Then I attached the sleeves and the ruffle.
  • Finally, I then made some darts in the front collar to make it less off the shoulder.

In the end, the only resemblance it had to the Make it and Love it dress was that it was striped.   Once I started, I realized that there was no where enough fabric to make the braided part of the collar, so I decided to make it the way I wanted instead.

I had to resew some of my seams later because I had never really sewed with knits before.  Check out this post to see some tips on knits.

I think the dress came out rather cute.   It's a fun and comfy, little play dress for my baby girl.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Card Series - Post 12: Creativity

There are times when I am looking to say something particular or am wanting a specific picture or pattern but have no supplies which fit my idea. 

For example in the 3rd card in this post, the particular person that I was making the card for really liked the chevron pattern, and I had nothing of the sort in my stash.  I went online and found a free printable: Chevron Free Printables by Mel Stampz (Thanks pinterest!) I printed it out and used it as a background.  I totally loved how it came out and since I printed a whole page of it, I can now use it for other cards. 

Also before I throw out anything, a catalog, a calender, or a gift bag, I look at it and see if there is anything that might be useful. If I find something, I cut it out and throw it in my supply bin for later use.  The rose in the first card is actually from the back of a calender. 

 Basically, if you don't have it, there is probably a way you can get it... you just need a little a little creativity and ingenuity.


Boy Birthday

Thank You

Thank You

Thank You
See you here next week!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Zucchini Bread - Take 2

I was recently given more zucchinis and decided that it would be a great time to make more zucchini bread.

You can check out the last time I made zucchini bread in this post:  July 22nd- zucchini bread .
As I was trying to decide what recipe to use this time, I asked my  husband what he thought of the recipe I had used previously.  He couldn't remember so he looked it up in the past post... and he found out that he thought it needed to be a little sweeter.  Ha ha... good thing I wrote it down!  He then went searching for a recipe that fit his requirements... more sugar... and this is what he came up with. 

 Food Network's Zucchini Bread Recipe by Paula Deen

So we got to work grating the zucchinis:

And no recipe is complete without a little help from mommy's helper:

We also put in chocolate chips instead of the nuts because everything is better with chocolate!  It turned out quite yummy.  He said it was sweet enough this time.  Ha ha.. it better be with 3 cups of sugar!   The baby girl thought it was delicious too.  She thinks it's dessert so it's a good way for me to trick her into eating her veggies. I would definitely use this recipe again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pink and Yellow Butterfly Birthday

Earlier this month my baby girl turned one!!  We had a fun little party for her with the family and a few of her playgroup friends.  It was just a casual affair with BBQ and swimming.   The theme was butterflies with pink and yellow accents. 
I tried to keep it pretty simple because I didn't want to spend a lot of money.  I didn't want to be too stressed out on a day that she wouldn't even remember.  Sure, she'll see pictures, but the party is more for the us then for her. 

I picked butterflies because I went to the Dollar Tree and they had a cute set for cheap.  It had invitations, plates, a banner, party hats, and cups.  I also picked up some coordinating streamers, balloons, tablecloths, and cake plates. 

And then I decided to get crafty.

Tissue Paper Butterflies: I was going to hang those cool looking pom pom balls but when I went to make them them, they didn't quite turn out so I decided to make butterflies.
  • I took 20 x 20 size tissue paper and cut them in fours.
  • I stacked four pieces of the 10 x 10 squares and folded them like an accordion. 
  • I then twisted pipe cleaners around the middle like a body and made atennaes. 
  • I pulled the papers apart a bit to give the wings some body. 
I then hung them up all around the yard and deck, so we had a little butterfly wonderland with them all flying in breeze. I'm sure I didn't make this up and you can probably find it somewhere, but I just improvised with what I had.

 I also saw this fun idea on pinterest.  There are a dozen such sites which show these cute little baggies so it was hard to find the original source, but I think this is it.
I painted the bodies pink and yellow to coordinate with the colors of the party, and then I used hot glue to put on the eyes and atennaes.  I didn't want any little parts coming off when the kids tried to stick the clothespins in their mouths.  I filled them with goldfishes for the kids and M & M's for the adults. 
These cute butterfly bodies make great chip clips afterward, so they have a two in one purpose!

I don't think cake decorating is my specific talent.  I discovered the hard way how difficult it is to decorate when you don't have the right tools or ingredients.  The writing fudge I bought was too runny so I just used it for the bodies... as you can see in the top left corner, I tried to outline the whole butterfly and it just ran, so I nixed that idea.  I also had bought this weird frosting pen that I thought would make it easier, but instead I just was up to my elbows in frosting and all my butterflies came out looking like a five year old drew them.  I finally figured it out when I only had one or two left to do.  See if you can find the 2 good ones in the picture.  :)

If you want to learn from my mistake this is what you do...

Cake decorating the inexpensive way:
  • Use the tips from one of those aerosol frosting cans. 
  • Mix the colors of frosting you want by combining food coloring and white frosting in different bowls
  • Snip end off of one corner of Ziploc baggy
  • Put tip in hole in Ziploc bag
  • Squeeze frosting toward tip and decorate!

By the time I got to the second batch, I had wasted too much frosting so had to do something a little different.  In the picture below, some of the writing had peeled off, but you can still get the idea.  Again, the fudge being runny was a problem, but I had to make do with what I had.

 I also made her an individual mini cake which I was actually pretty proud of.  I didn't have the right size cake pan and didn't see one at the store that I liked, so I had to get inventive.  I had these pancake molds on hand that were the perfect size and shape.  I put the molds on a cookie sheet, sprayed it with PAM and filled them about a third of the way up with some extra batter. I ended up with 3 thin cakes that I stacked on top each other.  Her cake was actually layered chocolate, yellow, and chocolate.  The mini cakes had a slightly raised top which actually made the perfect shape, like a giant cupcake.  I frosted it with a big butterfly, dusted on pink sprinkles and voila!!

There were a few more little details here and there.  I made lemonade with floating rasberries and slices of lemon, which I forgot to take a picture of.  My little girl wore a frilly party dress and shoes, both with butterflies on them.  For only having planned it in a little over a week, it all came together well.

We had fun celebrating her birthday and I know she had a good time.  She ate lots of watermelon which is her favorite and enjoyed smashing the cake to bits.  I can't believe how time has flown!  Happy Birthday to my baby!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Meatless Dish: Black Bean and Corn Pitas

It's hot here in  sunny California, so I'm always trying to find recipes that take little to no cooking.  The less I have to heat my kitchen, the better!  We unfortunately don't have air conditioning, so we try to do our best to keep our house cool.   This recipe fits the bill and is totally yummy too!  I also love recipes which only take a few minutes to make.  I love whipping up a good meal, but after a long hot day that last thing that I want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen.  The meal takes just minutes.  Chop some veggies, toss them in spices and eat up! 

The other perk to this meal is it is also very low in cholesterol.  Mozzarella cheese is a lower cholesterol cheese, but you could leave it off and it would be just as tasty.  

If you would like to try this recipe, go to Champions for Change under their lunch menu.  It's listed as a lunch but it was filling enough for dinner, especially on a hot summer day. 

Here is the direct link to the recipe:  Black Bean and Corn Pitas

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Card Series: Post 11- The Sharp Points

As of right now, I use a regular pair of scissors to cut my paper and shapes out.  I also have some fun scissors with different edges, such as scalloped or zigzag.  You can see an example of this below.  This gives it little different look, and makes it not quite so square looking. 

Father's Day - Dad To Be


Encouragement - God Bless Your Mission Trip


Congratulations  - Housewarming

If you look closely though, my shapes are not always cut even.  One thing that I would advise which I do not really have is something to help you cut straight. I do have a paper cutter, but I need to get replacement blades. I have heard of self healing mats but have yet to buy one, and I think alongside a razor or rotary blade that might be a useful tool.  Another thing that might be fun would be different shaped paper punches.  One thing that also seems to be popular is the Cricut machine. While it looks awesome and I've heard good things about it, I am not quite ready to invest that much into my card making.  The reason I started making cards was to save money and right now I don't think I make enough cards that it would be worth my while.

Do you have a favorite cutting supply? What would you recommend?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Yoga Skirt - Maternity

I have mostly sewed kids clothes so far.  I've been a bit intimidated by sewing for an adult.  I feel like babies look so cute in homemade clothes and if it doesn't look quite right they won't be embarrassed to be seen in it.  So it's been a good way to practice my sewing and increase my skill. 

So when one of my best friends asked me to sew her a maternity skirt, I was totally on board as long as she was prepared if it didn't turn out quite right.  I had a skirt from Old Navy that I loved because I was able to  wear it before, during and after my pregnancy.  I was going to use that skirt as my guide, but then I decided to see if I could find a free pattern for the same style just to make things easier. 

I finally found this tutorial through pinterest.  Modkid Yoga Skirt by Patty Young  posted as a guest post on Sew, Mama, Sew .   It was just what I was looking for.

The one thing I wasn't prepared for was sewing with knits.  I didn't realize before I started that it was any different from sewing with regular cotton. 

This was what I discovered:
  • Use a stretch stitch or if you don't have one on your machine, use a small zig zag.  This is because the material stretches as you move and so will stretch your stitch.  If you use a straight stitch  it will break. I have found this to be true on a upcycle I did from an old t-shirt.  My baby wore it once and now I have to resew it.
  • Use a ballpoint needle. I did not do this because I had never changed my needle before so I was a bit intimidated. I figured I could get away with using my regular needle,but I should have not ignored this because the material caught in my machine several times and I had to cut it out.  :(
  • Knit fabric does not fray!  Woo hoo!  This is great because you don't have to finish edges... which is good because I hate doing extra steps. 

I went to pick out fabric, and that was an adventure.  I  learned that the waistband had to be two way stretch and also learned what 50% stretch meant.  I discovered this the hard way because after spending hours in the fabric store trying to find the perfect fabric, I bought the wrong kind and had to take it back.  Thankfully, Joann's lets you do that!   It was supposed to be a summery skirt but they had really no selection, and I had to get this fall pattern.  In the end, I fell in love with it and I'm totally jealous and want to make myself one!   The fabric was really cool against your skin, perfect for pregnancy in the summer. 

The skirt can be worn two ways, either up like a belly band as in the top picture, or down like a double fold yoga band. It's a great skirt for the pregnant and non-pregnant alike. The tutorial was pretty easy, and  I am looking forward to making one for myself in the near future. 

For more tips on knits, I'd recommend Made by Rae's Kniterviews and MADE- Ask Dana:How to sew with knit fabric

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Snack Time: Popcorn and Brewer's Yeast

I've been trying to come up with more healthy snacks.  It's usually easiest to eat junk, especially if it's sitting around in your cupboard.  Cookies, candy, chips never last long in my house because if I know it's there, I like to nibble, and before I know it, I've eaten half a box of cookies by myself.  Not so good for the midsection.  :( 

To avoid this pitfall, I've been trying come up with snacks that are quick, easy and yummy.  Recently we were were at my parents house for a visit, and I was reminded of a snack that I used to love as a child. I used to love eating popcorn.  I remember it was fun using the air popper and watching it fill up the bowl.  But since I've been out of the house I never got my own popper and I fail at making it microwave popcorn. If burning microwave popcorn was an Olympic sport, I'd bring home the gold every time. :)   Even if I could make it right, it's not that healthy with all that butter and salt they drench it in. 

So don't have a popper or burn it in the microwave like me?  I'm going to show you how to make it on the stove (thanks to my dad)  with nothing more then a pot, oil and the popcorn kernels.

Step one:  Put enough oil to cover the surface area of the bottom of the pan. 
Step two:  Pour in one layer of popcorn kernels.  If you put more, there won't be enough room in your pan once it starts to pop. 

Step three: Turn on high, cover with lid. 
Step four: Watch, and remove from heat once popping starts to slow down.  You don't want to leave it on the heat otherwise, it'll continue to cook and burn the pieces at the bottom of the pan.

Step five:  Wait for it to cool a bit and then transfer to a bowl and cover with topping of your choice.
Last and most important step: Grab your bowl, and maybe a friend to share it with and curl up on a comfy couch for a good movie. :) 

I like to put brewer's yeast on mine.  My husband doesn't like it, but it's one of the few healthy items from my childhood that I still like.   If you've never tried it, it's definitely an acquired taste.  It says on the package it tastes nutty or cheesy, but I think there is no way to describe the flavor.  I recently bought this kind, but I think you can get it in the bulk section at your local health food store.  I did some research, and it's all sorts of healthy.. like being high in vitamin B, high in protein, high in chromium, folic acid, and lots of other good stuff.  Google it, you'll  come up with all sorts of information on it's benefits. 

Brewer's yeast by Modern Products
Brewer's Yeast by Modern Products

Or if you're like my husband and think that it's too weird, try a little sugar and cinnamon, cayenne pepper, garlic powder or just a light sprinkle of butter and salt.  Try to be creative with your topping without making it unhealthy and enjoy your snack!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Card Series: Post 10 - Sentiment

This week's card post is in honor of mothers and fathers.  Thanks to our parents for all they have done over the years!  Featured are some mother and father's day cards.  While I love the sayings and stickers that I use,  they don't have certain occasions included.   It always takes some creativity to communicate the right sentiment without the proper sayings.  But with a little imagination, it's not too hard to come up with a cute card for the day.

Mother's Day

Father's Day

30th Birthday


Father's Day
Sometimes I have had to make cards for occasions that they don't make traditional cards for...  like "good luck on your mission trip".  The nice thing about making your own cards is that you can make them say exactly what you want. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Shades of Blue Dress: The Ombre Skirt

Ever have an idea and it doesn't quite go the way you planned?  That's what happened with this dress.  I had an idea for a dress with a white top, maybe a little flower on the collar and for the skirt I had in mind some fabric I had that was white with blue polka dots.  As you can see from the following pictures, the only resemblence this has to my idea is the white on top.  I also planned on using two different length skirts using a circle instead of the normal rectangle.  Neither of those things happened either.  I ordered this white top offline from Children's Place, and failed to notice the flowered details.  The flowers kind of looked silly with the polka dots.  The other thing that didn't work was that the white in the polka dot fabric was more of an off white so looked just dirty next to the crisp white shirt.  I could've just used the shirt as a shirt but it was almost dress length on my baby girl.  I went through lots of combinations of fabrics until I came up with this... which in the end I loved how it turned out!

I had these scraps from a friend.  They were already cut in convient strips from a quilt she made.  As you can see, each strip is a slightly different shade of blue. The strips were 43" x 5".  The width of the t-shirt was 10".  So each strip was a little more then double the shirt front and back.  For each strip I overcasted one edge so it wouldn't fray, and hemmed the other edge.  Lots and lots of hemming.  Then I sewed each strip in a tube. 

Then basted and gathered the tube to fit the width of the shirt.

Then attached the gathered tube at the waist line.  Next time, I would put pins to mark a straight line or use a washable pen to keep it even.  I just eyeballed it and had to pick it out and resew it. 

I measured about 2 inches down to attach the second tier.  The placement doesn't matter so much, just that the bottom of the top ruffle covers the top of the second ruffle.  (Also if your shirt isn't long enough to attach all 3 tiers, you probably could sew a tube that is the width of the shirt and the length that you want your dress to be.  Then sew to your shirt and sew the ruffles on the tube.) 

Another two inches down and I sewed on the last tier.   And viola!

 It was a very easy dress. It took me one evening and one nap time.  It probably would have taken me less, but I had to take out a bunch of mistakes, like forgetting to change my stitch length and such.

I'm not usually one to follow trends, but I think the ombre skirt gives it such character. I absolutly love how it turned out. It is just the perfect summer dress. It is so cute and girly, all full of flounce and ruffles.
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