A cake for a co-worker

My husband is in charge of providing the cake for one of his co-worker's birthdays. (they do a rotating schedule) and this particular co-worker isn't a big cake eater, since he prefers items that are really healthy.

So, hubby whipped up one of the zucchini chocolate cake recipes I had made for my daughter's birthday. He  asked me to decorate it with a 'tough mudder' theme. If you've never heard of the tough mudder, it's an obstacle course race that involves various challenges through water and mud. It's very grueling and the co-worker completed it this past summer.

So, the portion of this race that stands out is the crawling under electric wire in the mud. (Don't ask me why someone would sign up for this...not my thing :) ) I decided I would create a lake on the cake and then make wire over it...out of chocolate.

I went a bit overboard with my chocolate pieces...I also made tires, footprints, the words "happy birthday" and three people competing in the race. I used M&Ms to mount the "wire" above the cake as well so everything is edible. It's definitely far from the prettiest cake I've ever made, but it should be tasty...I hope.


Project for the Day: A Special gift for a 30th b-day party

As I mentioned in my last post, we had a surprise 30th b-day party portion of the Friend's Thanksgiving, for which I created a "30" pinata. Well, one of the benefits of having a birthday is to receive presents.

So, here's what I made for my hubby.

My husband is a writer. He is currently attempting to finish his first novel (at least the first draft), by his 30th birthday, so he will shortly be needing fresh ideas to start his next big project. Hence the creation of an idea book

So, I asked several friends and family members to contribute little ideas for jump off points for new stories and ideas. They also contributed some ideas for ways to think of ideas and games to find concepts. I began this project by working on the cover. I drew the design I wanted and printed it out reverse (as I was going to cut out the pieces and have two sheets of paper be the cover. I started with the portion that would have the design on it. It was a shiny red. This portion took a long time! Especially cutting out all the little letters!

After I had gotten over the cramps in my hands from cutting out letters, I cut the other piece of paper which is a bright gold. This one was the main portion of the cover (as well as the color behind the red cover.

 Following this portion I cut book board for the spine, and both covers and then printed out all the pages. These were printed in booklet form with 8 pages per set (so I would have something to bind). Then I used a template to punch holes in the pages so I could bind them.  I then began sewing the pages to straps and each other to attach the pages to the book. I vaguely recall the type of binding being called a kettle stitch, but it's been a few years so forgive me if I'm mistaken.

Here the pages are minus the final page. (I had a few pages in the back where I put in lines for him to write in his own ideas or for others to add some more ideas later). This is where I should have glued the pages together, (but I forgot!), so there is a slight gap between pages when the book is open. the final page of the book has a portion that attaches to the cover (in addition to the straps) so it's extra strong.

 The next step involved a lot of cutting, measuring and gluing. Using a paint brush I spread the glue on the front and back covers and attached it to the book board. This involved some folding and trimming of edges so the edges were perfect. This was also where I made a second mistake (phooey). I measured and placed my spine a bit close to the cover, so it isn't as pronounced of a closure as I would have liked. It should have been twice the distance it is. (shoot). This luckily doesn't effect the book's functionality, or really the appearance much, so I got off fairly easily.

 Next, I glued down the straps, and portion of the end page (that was covered by the interior cover paper) and the interior paper. This one was a beautiful textured green paper with a lovely grain. It's definitely one of my favorite papers. (This was when I realized I forgot to glue the bound edge of the pages and that there would be gaps in the pages...I didn't want to rip up my lovely green paper, so I decided some gaps inbetween pages wasn't awful...).

Here it is! The final book! It has two levels of cut outs (the yellow with the mitered edges is on top, then the red with all the letters and silhouette cut out, and then another Yellow sheet, so it is quite visually fun!

I'm sure he'll love it, especially all the wonderful ideas from friends!

Turned out lovely!


Project for the day: A surprise 30th b-day Pinata!

Today we are having friends over for the 3rd Annual Friend's Thanksgiving!

As always, the turn out of people attending is large and as a bonus on the fun we are celebrating my husband's 30th b-day with a surprise party portion. (His birthday is the 21st). Since we are doing a potluck, there will be several desserts and such so I determined a cake would be overkill and other decorations would clash with the thanksgiving party (which is still the main event in all of this).

Now obviously with a thanksgiving sized meal, the only thing left to do is to burn off a few calories with a fun game. And what better game than taking a whack at a pinata (even if you don't follow the same train of thought, just go with me here :) ), so I went about creating a "30" pinata.

This was a fairly simple Pinata... instead of doing paper mache - with all that flour and gluey mess, I did cardboard and masking tape. Yes, it won't be as durable, but I didn't think a bunch of just-fed adults who just gorged on a bunch of delicious pot-luck food (including Turkey) will be overly ambitious with their whacks.

Here's how I made it:

 I started by cutting out two "30"s in cardboard. I just unfolded a box and cut both at once, so it wasn't too tough to make sure they lined up and were identical).
 Next, I cut several strips of cardboard that were three inches wide and began to wrap it around the outside of the first 30, taping as I went. I cut pieces to match the edges of the 30 as it would have required more folding than I was willing to attempt and also made a nice clean line. Once the first side was taped I taped the back side on.
 Here it is with all the sides taped and prior to decorating it. I filled it with butterfingers (my hubby's favorite candy bar) and skittles, lifesavers, and star bursts. I was contemplating single serving plastic alcohol bottles, but that would have been a little expensive (as well as messy, should someone be a little more aggressive in their whacking than I anticipate).
 The covering for the pinata was just strips of wrapping paper cut with a fringe. (the paper was green, but the reverse side was white, so I used both to differentiate the numbers. I used some brown construction paper over the hole for the center of the zero as I didn't want to cut it out and such). These were just glued on with a glue stick.
TADA! A pinata for a surprise party!


Project for the day: A baby shower (sprinkle) gift

So my sister-in-law is expecting a baby this December. I am so looking forward to cuddling a little baby again (which will hopefully prevent me from wanting to have another for a while :) ).

She's a third time mom, which of course deserves a party, so a family friend decided to throw her a sprinkle (I have to admit this is a new term and concept to me...) to fill in items she may need. Since it's her third little one she has a lot of the baby stuff necessary, but the catch is her two older kids are both girls and since she and her husband have chosen to be surprised when the baby is born this one could be a boy.

I've always been partial to the surprise aspect of finding out a baby's gender as so few things you learn in a hospital are what you would call good surprises...

That being said, I have decided to get some diapers and make a little something too. I didn't want to make anything too gender specific, but the little one is a December baby, so I thought it the perfect excuse to pull out the red/green colors and still be good. So, I had seen a cute onesie recently on pinterest (That place is my drug...really I knew I would be sucked in by it) that I decided to create a similar item for the little one - a infant shirt.

First I cut out all the pieces. I admit this was a first attempt at following this type of pattern. (I was a bit nervous).

The smartest thing I did was paint the sleeves first. I decided to use contact paper to make stripes on the fabric in red and green so I laid that out and then painted the fabric with a fabric specific paint (following the directions on the bottle). Once it was dried, I color set it with an iron and then continued on with the sewing.

Once I had gotten the sleeves, front and back done I worked on the interfacing layer, and had to sew that a few times because I sewed it together backwards first (shoot), then I sewed it onto the shirt backwards (shoot), then I got it right (yay! ) the picture attached is the correct one!). Once that was all done, I attached the snaps.

Here is the shirt prior to the cute little message being painted on. I did a snap closure instead of a bow which the pattern recommended  (because I felt it would keep it on better than the bow closure.

After the shirt was fully assembled, I scaled and printed out the text I wanted on it, traced that onto the shirt (using my very technical light table (aka a square lamp on it's side)) and then painted it in. This took more effort than the stripes because I didn't have the contact paper to save me from making a mess, but also, my brush didn't have stiff enough set of bristles.

So it wasn't easy to keep it where it was supposed to be, but once I got that all cleaned up (the paints are generally washable until they have been heat set thank goodness!) I heat set it with an iron, then ran it through the dryer to make sure the iron worked. I followed that by fully washed it. The paint is a little stiff at first when you finish painting so it requires washing to soften up.

This also ensured that the color was heat seat (I was really nervous I was going to pull out a completely white shirt!). Luckily I still had a colorful shirt.

Hopefully she likes it!


Project for the Day: Recreating the past

I have a sibling wedding coming up this December. I'm thinking my daughter will be decked out to be a mini-me from my youth. You see I have in my possession some treasured family heirlooms by way of several lovely dresses my mom made for my sisters and I to wear when we were young. I have all of them. They range in size from infant to pre-teen. The most memorable of which were the red and white polka- dot dresses. These dresses were worn by all my sisters for tons of events and they really are lovely. To the right is a version of that dress probably in 1987 (I was the smallest girl then). Note the red dress and also the bracelet...

Well I found my old ballerina music jewelry box from my youth and discovered that bracelet sitting in there. Many of the beads were gone (and all of them had lost the pearl sheen they once had). Thought it might be fun if I fixed it up for my daughter to wear to the wedding with the red and white polka dot dress. Can definitely see that the pearls are not pearly anymore... so it probably ended up in the box because it just didn't look that good (it fits a small child up to an adult). Here it is prior to work being done.

I realized that I had a ton of pearl beads given to me from my mom to make jewelry for my younger sister's wedding. They were exactly the same size as the glass beads. It also was amazing that I had exactly enough straight pins to replace every missing pearl on the bracelet.

It actually looks pretty cute with the clear and pearl (definitely more youthful and fun that way) so I may just leave it that way...but if I decide to change it, I have to go get some more straight pins anyway.

My daughter will look awfully cute all decked out. She loves wearing the bracelet already...I'm hoping it will distract her enough in church to be really well behaved :) (wishful thinking I know...) And then when she's tearing up the dance floor (she is a dancing machine) it will be the perfect accessory.


Project for the day: A little hippo

So ages ago I had mentioned that I had attempted to make a hippo and ended up with more of a sheepo (which my daughter immediately fell in love with and kept, even though I intended to give it as a gift)...

Well, I managed to make a pattern for a new hippo from Sheepo and had the perfect opportunity to give it a try. I had a friend request a hippo for her daughter as a big sister gift, so I went about sewing up a cute little hippo friend (in pink as requested).

First, I cut out all the pieces out of some fabulous fabric I had on hand (a pink and purple plaid for the tummy, insides of ears, and feet; and a pink and white slightly fuzzy fabric for the back and head and ears). I had also included a lining fabric with the pink fuzzy fabric as it has quite a bit of stretch and I didn't want the filling to come through).

Once all the pieces were cut out I began sewing everything together: first the ears (since they had to be sewn into the head as it was sewn), then the head, then the body and finally the feet. I did the standard right sides together and then turning inside out (which was a bit hard on the body since I did the feet last and had to turn the entire thing inside out through a foot. The head was attached to the body after both were stuffed (and that was done by hand. I've discovered the seam at the back of the head to be the weakest on Sheepo, so I tried something different this time...I'm not totally sold that it's a final solution yet though. I may have to experiment with additional ideas to see if I can come up with something better.

The ears and head were attached at an angle, because it looked adorable that way for the ears (and by accident on the head), but it really turned out very cuddly and cute that way. It just seems to whisper: hug me! And here is the new little lady hippo with her grand-dad Sheepo. He thinks she's perfect. I've got to agree with him :)


Project for the day: Fix a decor pumpkin

So, I found a lovely pumpkin decor piece I really liked that matches another pumpkin decor piece I already have. It was on clearance (I guess they had it as part of the halloween decor even though there was no face, so I intend to use it for Thanksgiving), and included a damaged discount as well.

My hubby was a little wary of purchasing it because it was missing the stem, you could see the styrofoam through the decorative edging, and the leaf wasn't attached...but for a price of $1 I figured I could fix it... So I decided to prove to him that I could. (Not that I think he doubted me, but I like a challenge).

It took me a total of 3 minutes to fix this pumpkin :) The most complicated part was finding a stick in the backyard that was about the diameter of the hole for the stem. Once I found that, it took me 10 seconds to saw it with a hack saw to the correct length (I left the broken end fairly jagged to grip the styrofoam better at the bottom of the opening.

 I used hot glue to secure the stick and the leaf. Then I used a Prisma color brown and orange markers to fill in any bare spots in the orange (where you could see styrofoam) and to color the raw edge of the stick that was showing on top. As you can see it definitely turned out lovely. Works well with my other pumpkins I have around the table and you can barely tell there are any missing portions and I think I actually like my stem better than the one that is on the undamaged pumpkin you can see in the background. It has more character.

I think I'm set for our annual Friend Thanksgiving for decor now :)


Project from the weekend: A Starry Night

I should start this post by saying that I adore my daughter. She's a super cute little one and says fairly endearing things (especially for a 2 year old).

Recently when I asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up she said she wanted to sit on the moon to look at the stars. I was tempted to immediately contact NASA to ask them to work on that so I could tell my daughter she could totally do that, but first I thought it would be helpful to make her dream a reality in a small way.

We decided we would paint glow in the dark stars on her bedroom ceiling so she could look at the stars in the evening. First we went in search of pre-made stars. We found a pack of 40 at Toys R Us, for basically $5, but that was more than I wanted to spend and, frankly 40 stars just didn't fit with my thoughts. I had thought they might have sheets of paper with glow in the dark stars, but no such luck.

Next door was JoAnn Fabrics and they had a great product called Glow-It craft paint that looks pretty close to white, but apparently glows well (according to the package). It was less than the prepacked stars so we decided to give it a shot.

I happened to have a ton of star stamps, so we set about stamping the ceiling with those. (We did this during the day, and it was rather hard to see where you had stamped, but we did a pretty good job with coverage), however if you are doing a room that doesn't have a child needing to go to bed at 8 pm...stamping/painting in the dark might be a great option as the paint does glow as you go. Also, the paint is a bit thin for stamping, but the important part was getting it on the ceiling and my stamps are all tiny so they didn't need to be perfect 'star' shapes.

We painted the milky way, Saturn, Earth, the big and little dippers, Orion, and Leo's sign (which is a daughter's sign and a very easy one). And then filled in with tons of little stars.

It was a beautiful reveal! My daughter was giddy and so were we. It turned out perfect!

Here is the only issue I have...glow in the dark is really hard to photograph... Here are the best pictures I was able to get and they don't even begin to show the scope of it. These are close-ups of two to three stars, so multiply that by a hundred or so.

Also, here is the bonus...during the day, you would never know that the ceiling has stars painted on it. It blends very well and we won't need to repaint the ceiling or peel down lots of little stars to sell if we ever move.

It definitely is a sight to see...in person :)


Project: that second doll dress...

I had mentioned that I had made two doll dresses.

This is that second one I made (my sister-in-law brought it by today so I could get a picture of it).

This one wasn't done from a pattern...it was done by sewing scraps of fabric I had and measuring our baby doll to ensure it would fit on the doll. It ties in the back so it's a very easy closure.