Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Party Mode

Our household is eagerly preparing for a fun 3rd birthday weekend. I can't wait to share this year's party! While I'm away crafting, baking & celebrating, I thought I'd share some pics from our boy's first two parties. I'll do my best to create dedicated posts to each party eventually, but for now, please enjoy the abbreviated fun!

A frog theme kicked things off for the 1 year old celebration. I handmade the invitations asking everyone to "hop over," served themed food and packaged themed favors. My mom and I had a blast creating this cake!
Double layer cake with cupcake eyes and peanut M & M feet.

Then, turning 2 was all about the Choo Choos. We set up the train table and hosted a train inspired party. I appliqued this shirt for the occasion, and made bag tags as part of the party favors. Here's the front door welcome sign. I was fortunate to only have to add the "2" portion as it was a fantastic borrow from another crafty mommie from her son's transportation birthday bash - thanks Maureen!
I tried to make as much of the decor as possible, including this birthday banner. I crafted it by tracing train cookie cutters onto card stock, printing the letters, cutting & threading through raffia.
There was also a train cake...a main engine with lots of cars. It was a bit of a task, but worth it in the end!

As a child I always loved birthday parties, so having my own child to celebrate is such fun...tiring for a mommie at times, but fun! I am constantly amazed at the number of other moms out there going all out for parties. The blog-o-sphere is just full of 'em - have you seen the insanity?! Tons of inspiration is floating around, and I'm excited to pair it with my own spin for a happy and easy celebration. Now off to make some birthday magic!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Corn Chowder

I first made this chowder moons ago when my husband and I were simply boyfriend and girlfriend. He's asked me to make it again several times, but I somehow misplaced the recipe. Then we moved, got married, and started our family. Well, much to my nesting delight, I recently came across the missing recipe while going through a stack of books I'm purging. I immediately made a batch and the recipe is settled in our permanent binder of go-to meals. Here's a pic of the deliciousness in my cast iron pot. Find my take on the recipe below!

Vegetarian Corn Chowder

2 tablespoons butter
2 slices bacon, chopped (I like Morningstar Farms)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery with greens, chopped
4 springs fresh thyme
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons (or more) hot sauce
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 pint half-and-half
2 cups stock (I use vegetable)
1 cup raw hash browns (usually found in the dairy case & I use much more)
2 cans kernel corn (I drain the water, but you can add what you like)

In a medium pot over medium high heat melt butter. Add bacon, onions, celery and thyme sprigs. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce and cook 5 minutes. Add flour and cook a minute more.
Add half-and-half and stock and bring to a bubble. Then stir in potatoes and corn. Bring soup back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, until potatoes are cooked and soup has thickened to coat the back of a spoon.

Even though we're enjoying some spring-like temperatures, I'm sure there are still more cold, gray days ahead. Give this a try on one of those nights and snuggle in before it's too hot for soup!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pipe Cleaner Flowers

It's teacher appreciation week at preschool...not sure how Valentine's week was chosen instead of the typical May celebration, but c'est la vie. The children are asked to bring in a flower for each teacher, so last year I started the handmade tradition. Tissue paper flowers were lots of fun, but this year I felt inspired to keep the materials uniform. And I loved the results!

It all started with a segment I caught awhile back on The Martha Stewart Show. I knew such a simple, yet lovely craft would come in handy one day! After watching a refresher how-to via video tutorial, I grabbed my pack of pipe cleaners and got to work. Instead of using a ring finger as my starting base, I grabbed a small wooden dowel. I ended up with a smaller loop better suited to thread the flower stem through. Each stem is a green pipe cleaner folded in half. I worked the 2 ends into the flower head, and then twisted to make the stem a tad bit thicker and more sturdy.

Before we headed off to school this morning, I added a sweet tag to each blossom in honor of teacher apprecation. You can print a free sheet of your very own tags over at eighteen25 - one of my new favorite blog finds!

Big boy was so cute & proud carrying in these mommie-made florals. His teachers (and a few others) seemed to love them too - success! Thank you teachers for shaping our children and giving mommie some much appreciated child-free craft time!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Shopping Cart Cover

This post is a fun trip down memory lane. My about-to-turn-three boy no longer likes riding in the cart, unless it's in the main part taking up entirely too much room or standing on the side holding on like a renegade. Neither makes for a pleasant shopping experience these days, so it's nice to remember a time I could pack a Snack Trap, plop him in my mommie made snuggly cover and attempt some shopping. But how did I get our errands done I wonder - the cuteness is just too much!

My cart cover coordinating fabrics, batting and elastic came from good ol' Hancock Fabrics. Have I mentioned there's a store less than 3 minutes from our house...dangerous but oh so convenient! And you may remember, the cute fabric found even more life here recently.

I constructed the cover using McCall's Crafts pattern 5721. The project was surprisingly easy, especially since I omitted the slits for the cart belts and made no travel bag. Have you noticed that cart belts always seem quite nasty if they're even there at all? Plus, trying to strap a baby in them is usually a struggle and who wants their sweet bambino touching and sucking on all that grime?! I always kept a close eye on my boy who always seemed fine and loved his soft warm cover. I adored that it fit every cart we crossed including restaurant high chairs. It was easy to wad up, carry in, wrap around abandoned Cheerios & toys, throw in the wash and return to the car. Looking back I'm sure I barely had time to whip up the cover, but am so glad I did - it was a staple back in the baby days! It garnered quite a few compliments and I'm excited to use it again with baby girl.

May your weekend be filled with happy smiles, memories & giggles!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Baby Shower Gift

It seems like 2011 is a big year for babies, girls especially. Recently I was excited to attend my cousin's baby shower and made a gift set. I ended up not being able to attend since I developed!  Luckily I am on the mend and another great granddaughter arrived safely. I can hardly believe my own little bundle will be here in just 3.5 months - wow!

Since the baby's name had yet to be revealed, I went with a little sister applique. I used the trusty petal patch from Applique Cafe and dropped in wording from Monogram Wizard. A sweet bib that I may just have to replicate for our little sister!

I also embellished 2 coordinating burp cloths: one with the same green striped fabric used in the applique, and the other with a green & pink paisley print. The green striped fabric seemed too simple on it's own, so I also added some ric rac and quilting seams to fancy it up a bit more.

Burp cloths are such a fun and easy baby gift to make. Plus they are super functional. Who wouldn't want to have a glammed up burp cloth nearby to wipe away the mess...I mean baby love!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pretty Play-doh

Back in September, I signed up to make monthly batches of play-doh for my son's preschool class. Here's a peek at February's classroom love:

You can find my recipe here. I just love it (as does my son!) and it makes a wonderful homemade gift. Wouldn't it be cute divided into little clear containers with Valentines attached?!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Handmade Valentines

February snuck right in didn't it?! With less than 2 weeks until Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share a fun project. Last year I made felt chocolate chip cookies for each of my son's preschool classmates. I love felt food, and figured a cookie would be a fun addition to all of the play kitchens out there!

My supplies consisted of:
light & dark brown felt
lightweight batting
 coordinating thread
 clear cellophane bags
blank card stock for the adorable printables
a hole punch & ribbon

I started by making a paper pattern for the cookie and chips. I used my Martha Stewart circle cutter, but you could easily trace anything like the bottom of a glass or small bowl. Once I settled on sizes I liked, I cut out my felt pieces. Then I cut batting circles slightly smaller than the cookies.

Using doubled up dark brown thread, I hand stitched 3-4 chips on each felt cookie top. I even cut a few of the chips in half to place along edges. Once all the chips were in place, I sandwiched the batting between a top and bottom layer. Lastly I used a decorative zig-zag machine stitch with light brown thread to seal up each cookie.  Good enough to eat!


To specially package each cookie for Valentines Day, I used individual cellophane bags, folded them closed and punched a couple of holes up top to attach the Valentine. I even ran the blank back side thru the printer to include "to and from" details. I used my trusty paper cutter to set each lovable critter free, punched a hole in the corner and tied it on with red ribbon. Voila!

This was a fun project and easy to whip up for the 2 year old set. With so many other projects going on this year, I'm pretty sure big boy's classroom Valentines won't be as creative, and that's ok. Or so I keep telling myself! This year he's going with a box of good ol' standard Thomas the Train cards. It will be his turn to color & scribble on them to his heart's content. I used to love preparing & bringing home my decorated paper bag full of Valentines back in the day, and I'm sure my boy will too no matter what's inside.

If you're looking for fun free printables this year, check out Anders Ruff. SO cute! And another great list of links to peruse is here. Many can even be printed in black & white so your child can color them in. Happy printing and creating!


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