December 30, 2011

Homemade Cocoa Basket and Spiral Cookies

First, I will apologize for the length of this post. It's pretty lengthy, but totally worth it, I swear.

My little K-ster takes ballet and tap lessons at one of the local dance studios. So I had to put together a cute little Christmas gift for her ballet teacher and her assistant.

Enter the Homemade Coca Basket...

Everything in this basket (minus the basket and paper filler) was handmade in some way. It was actually one of my favorite gifts to make.

I got the idea for monogramming the mug from Design Mom. I just picked up the white mug at Walmart on clearance and the Porcelaine 150 paint pen from Micheal's. These pens are super cool, and I plan on buying them in all sorts of colors and decorating anything possible.

To transfer the image I wanted to paint onto the mug, I just rubbed pencil on the back of my template, taped it to the mug, and then traced over the letter with a ballpoint pen. When I removed the template, a nice, visible outline remained on the mug. Then I used the paint marker to trace the letter and sketch it in. The paint has to dry for at least 24 hours before being baked. Once baked, the mugs looked like this...

To make the mocha cocoa mix and the mini-marshmallows I used Willow's recipes over at Will Cook For Friends. (She made her marshmallows into cute little ghosts for Halloween...make sure you check them out!)

After I blended up the cocoa mix, I put it in this jar with a cute ribbon and tag that I made on Picnik.

To make cute little mini-marshmallows, I placed the warm, marshmallow "batter" into a piping bag fit with a star tip and piped out what seemed like a million little star shaped marshmallows.

If you decide to do the same thing, I would recommend making half a batch of the "batter" at a time, because I could only fit about half into the piping bag. By the time I finished piping that much, the rest of the "batter" had already hardened in the mixing bowl. Oops.

So once the marshmallows had set and been dusted with sugar, they went into their own jar with a matching tag.

Put everything together in a basket with red, festive paper filler and this message tag...

And voila...a wonderful homemade gift!

Here's the K-ster with her teacher, Stephanie at the party.

But, wait, that's not all!
(I told you this was a long post!)

They also had a Christmas party during their last class before holiday break. I had just come across these adorable and fun spiral cookies on Pinterest from Sprinkle Bakes.

These were seriously so much easier than I thought they were going to be. And the recipe is so versatile. You can chance up the colors of the dough and/or sprinkles for different events and holidays and you can use any flavor extract you like.

Heather used strawberry flavoring, but I used almond and they were super yummy. good.

I think Kaeleigh enjoyed the cookies and her party.

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Meet My Brother...

Meet my Brother...

Okay, that was TOTALLY not the Brother I was talking about. But if you're interested...

Readers, meet Thomas. Thomas, meet readers.

Oh, and he just got engaged on Christmas. That's his step-son-to-be, Brody, in the picture with him.

So, congratulations to him, blah, blah, blah, [just you Thomas :o)] now MEET MY BROTHER...

Thaaaaaat's right folks. I finally got my new sewing machine [thank you Hubby] AND. I. LOVE. IT.
It's a Brother CP7500 with digital controls and display...

and 70 different stitches...

My old machine needed to go. With only two stitches (straight or zig-zag), no way to do a buttonhole, and way too many unserviced years of use, I just could not sew with it the way I wanted to.

A big, ginormous THANK YOU goes out to both my husband, who bought the machine for me, and my Aunt Keli, who very slyly found out what type of machine I wanted and passed on the information. AWE.SOME.

I've already completed my first two projects using my new machine, but I can't share them yet. (They're late Christmas gifts for people who have not yet received them and I know they read my blog!)

But check out who else wanted in on the action...

 The Hubby actually sat down at the machine and sewed for the first time since 7th grade home-economics. Look how fantastic he did!

So proud. :op

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I'll be catching you up on all of the fun handmade gifts I gave this year--the main reason I've been neglecting the poor blog for the last few weeks, but it's worth the wait, I promise!
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December 16, 2011

Giraffe Grins {The CSI Project Charity}

I'm sorry I've been kind of neglecting the blog lately, but with Christmas coming up I've had about a googol (a real number, I swear!) things going on all at once. But I had to take the time to do this post...

I am a regular follower of Dee over at The CSI Project. There are two reasons you need to go check it out...

Reason #1 -- Her blog runs a weekly crafting challenge during which anyone may submit a project they've done that fits with the week's theme. All of the projects are submitted just as in a linky party (including having to link back to The CSI Project in your blog post) and a special guest judge will go through all of the submissions, make a "Top 10" list, and choose one winner.

Last week's winner of the Neighbor Gift Idea challenge was Amanda at Shindig Parties with these super cute Christmas Kisses.

And to make it that much more fun, one challenge participant will be randomly selected to win a gift from the weekly sponsor.

And reason #2 -- She has started a wonderful new charity called Giraffe Grins.

Dee spent some time in a children's hospital in her hometown and remembers a big giraffe painted on the hospital wall that used to make her smile at a time when she and her family needed a little light in their day.

As Dee quoted on her charity page, "It’s the little things that mean so much." Remembering this and her giraffe, she has been bringing a little cheer to children's hospitals by sewing bright, happy pillowcases for the children to use during their hospital stays.

As you may already know, I have two children of my own and when they're sick, I know that it really is the little things that count. So when Dee asked for readers to get involved I knew that I had to help.

So I am now a Giraffe Grins Affiliate! What does that mean, you ask? It means that I will be sewing bright, fun, cheery pillowcases to send to the Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital in Syracuse, NY.

I'm so excited to get started once the holidays are over. And YOU can help! I will be taking fabric donations to make the pillowcases. Fabrics should be brightly colored, fun, and cheery. Remember, we want to brighten a sick child's day. If you're interested in making a fabric donation, please contact me at mitchetr192(at)gmail(dot)com.

And don't forget to check out the Giraffe Grins page over at The CSI Project!
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December 1, 2011

"Cute As A Button" Baby Shower

You may remember these "Cute As A Button" baby shower invites that I posted about here as a sneak peak into my contribution to my best friend's baby shower that her mother and I planned.

This is my best friend, Mallory, and I when we were both still in college about 5 years ago.

This is one of my favorite pictures of us. :o)

{She and her husband own and operate a new photography business called J & M Expressions. They do wonderful work, so if you're in the New York/Pennsylvania area and you're looking for a photographer for any event or occasion, you should check them out!}

The shower was this past weekend and everything went great, so I wanted to fill you in on the "crafty" goodies I contributed.

Let's start with the cupcakes...

They weren't my best work, as far as I'm concerned, but Mallory loved them. To make the button toppers, I just frosted little, round shortbread cookies and used green Nerds candy as the "button holes."

I made that awesome stand too.

I just spray primed and painted two metal stove burner covers and a candle stick (both from Dollar Tree) and glued them together using E600. It held 14 cupcakes, so I'd definitely love to make one a little bigger to hold more, but it worked well for this party.

I was in charge of all of the "whimsical" decorations, so I thought this button bouquet was perfect for this theme. I had seen a few versions of them on Pinterest, so the idea wasn't originally mine, but I don't have a specific source to cite here. But feel free to check out my Pin Boards if you're interested!

I bought all of the buttons from Oriental Trading for super cheap. They were only $6.25 for one pound of buttons, so I got about 1600 buttons for under 15 bucks. The K-ster helped me pick the buttons for each flower, which was a huge help since it prevented me from lingering over color combinations so I could just focus on assembling flowers.

This was my first ever attempt at putting together a set of buntings...

And here they are hung at the party...

I can't wait until I can finally get myself a Silhouette Cameo so that making these will be faster and easier. I cut each flag AND letter by hand. It took me forever. I love the results, but the Silhouette would have come in handy here.

If you've read my post about my new sister-in-law's bridal shower, you know that I'm not that into shower games. Fortunately, neither are Mallory or her mother. Mallory requested this instead...

Each party guest filled one out and signed it for Mallory to put in the baby's scrapbook. There were a few that were really touching (okay, really touching...I cried) so she plans to frame them for the nursery. I designed these using my word processing program. They were actually super easy.

I love making diaper cakes. I've made quite a few of them for friends and family having babies, so I had to make one for Mallory, too. She and her husband are planning to use Seventh Generation brand diapers (they're chlorine free...hence the reason they have a beige color). And the results...

This was the first time I used the paper filler between each tier and I kind of like how it gives the cake a bit of fullness that my previous diaper cakes didn't have. I'm pretty sure I'll be trying it again with my next cake.

As a final touch, I wanted to do something fun for the three of us (Mallory, her mother, and myself), so I thought these button bracelets would be cute...

These were so easy. The first one took a bit of time, but once I had figured out a good system, the others were finished in no time. The K-ster had to have one too, of course. Hers is the purple and pink bracelet.

This one ended up being mine. I had no idea what any of us would be wearing, but I happened to choose the color combination of each bracelet perfectly. Mallory wore the bright bracelet and her mother wore the black and white bracelet. Mallory wore her bracelet to work (she is currently working as a substitute teacher) and the kids loved it!

That was everything I did for the actual party. Everything else was part of her gift. Like this button monogram (once again, currently being spotted all over Pinterest) done in light blue and burnt orange (the nursery colors).

She had requested this a few months ago, and was super excited to get it.

Such a cute baby bump, huh?

When I saw this Stencil Alphabet Art that Destri made over at The Mother Huddle, I knew I had to do one for Daniel's nursery.

What do you think of mine? Destri used fabric for her letters, but I actually used scrap booking paper and loved the results just as much. It took me awhile to find a stencil that was the right size and had the entire alphabet on the same stencil (as I said, small town and not many places to shop). I eventually found one on my first ever trip to Hobby Lobby (yes, my first ever...I'm now in love).

I also made her car seat canopy like the one I made my friend Kim a couple of weeks ago.

I love that fabric. It's so bright and fun.

I lined this one with corduroy instead of fleece, mostly because the local Joann's didn't have a fleece that matched the fabric, but it ended up adding a nice touch to this one.

I also made her a diaper pouch using the same fabrics. I like how the corduroy looks here.

And stuffed it with a travel wipe container, a couple of diapers, and a tube of diaper cream.

And after all of that, I was wiped out. Now, on to Christmas crafting!
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November 21, 2011

Baby Gifts

So there's no where to shop around these secluded parts of Northern New York. And I don't just mean I'm bored with what we have here in Ogdensburg. We seriously have NO WHERE to shop. So to accomplish any type of holiday shopping, we have to make a two-and-a-half hour drive south to Syracuse. In the past I've done most of the shopping online, but common--it's not as much fun! So this year the hubby and I planned a weekend trip to Syracuse ALONE. As in, WITHOUT CHILDREN. Yes. Amazing, I know.

Then I got an invitation for one of my good friend's baby shower. Guess when it was. Yes, during our amazing weekend. I was bummed I wouldn't be able to go, but I did manage to get her gift made, packaged, and dropped to her before we left.

An infant carseat canopy.

This is their fourth child and they've always chosen not to find out the sex of their babies before they were born. Exciting for them. Not so easy for gift buying/making. I've been seeing a lot of baby stuff in bright colors combined with grey, so I thought a cute grey print with bright yellow accents would be pretty gender neutral.

Here it is all laid out flat.

I actually got the idea from Cally over at Calico.

The outside is grey and white quilting cotton and the inside is yellow fleece. Instead of velcro straps, I just used some yellow bias tape I already had on hand to make ties. It looked a little unfinished at that point, so I trimmed the edges with some yellow ric-rac. And voila!

The thing I think I like most about this canopy, though, is that it attaches in a way so that the handle is still accessible. This should keep baby nice and cozy warm all winter long by keeping the chilly wind out.

I also made her this super easy and useful diaper pouch using Anna's tutorial at her blog NoodleHead.

It's the perfect size to hold a plastic wipes case, two diapers, and a tube of diaper cream.

I'm thinking I need to make myself one now that the K-ster is out of diapers and Flyin' A is old enough that I don't really need to carry a big bulky diaper bag anymore. This is so easy to just throw in the car or my purse and go. EZPZ.

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November 18, 2011

31st Annual Essex Fall Craft & Fine Arts Show

Every year for the past four years I have joined my grandmother, aka Nonny, and aunt, Keli, in Essex Junction, Vermont for their annual fall craft show. Kaeleigh went with us the first and second years, but wasn't old enough to really appreciate the idea of a craft show. This year, however, she tagged along again and fully enjoyed herself.

Here's a picture of the four generations about half way through the day:

 This show always has hundreds of vendors, so we do a process of "shop first, buy later." When we find a vendor we'd like to buy from, we write them down so that at the end of the day we can go back and get what we want. This way we don't 1) overspend early in the day and 2) have to lug around big, heavy, or awkward items all day.

Kaeleigh caught onto the process pretty quickly, which she made evident when she found the vendor selling Hello Kitty themed jewelry. She spotted Hello Kitty from five booths down and took off running. When I caught up to her she said, "We have to write this one down!" We all had our good laugh and kept on shopping.

She also loved these super cool glass bead earrings by Novation Glass, so she got those as well.

And Momma had to get herself some awesome new stuff, including this really fun wooden pumpkin to add to our fall decor.

 The pianist, Sergei Novikov, that was selling these CD's is at the show every year playing his music at the entrance.

I don't know why we never stopped to check out his merchandise in the past, but we did this year and all four of us fell in love with his soothing and relaxing music. I chose to buy his Christmas Piano Album Part 2 because I thought it would be great to play while visiting with guests during the holidays. I think I'll be getting one or two of his other albums next year.

 I've been searching for little tin stars like these up in Northern NY to a version of this project for next year's patriotic holidays, but have had no luck in finding them small enough.

But, voila, there was a vendor (actually the same one that I bought the wooden pumpkin from) selling these babies in every size you could ever need. I only bought three, now I'm wishing I had bought more. Darn. It. All.

 Food. I can never leave this show without food of some kind.

This sweet red pepper jelly by Catamount Specialties of Vermont is OUT OF THIS WORLD. I bought two jars and I plan to eat every drop of it myself share it with guests.

This next contraption is a special one.


If I hadn't actually seen what this baby is used for, I couldn't have even made a guess. Last year I bought some super cool vertical potted plant hangers, called hanging "Potgenies." I don't have a picture of those, but this year I bought this vertical potted plant stand, the Original "Potgenie." Once it's actually set up, this is what it looks like.

Source: This isn't the same vendor that I purchased my"Potgenie" from, but it's the same idea.

I can't wait to use it in the spring. I'll be sure to share pictures.

So we had a good time. And I think everyone, including the newest craft-show-goer, loves the items they purchased.

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