Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Front Door Fashion

As I typed this title, I realized that I overuse the concept of alliteration (ie using the same initial consonant/sound for each word: front fashion or barely bear) quite a bit. No matter.

Posting here today about my front door, if that interests you.

I recently made the momentous decision that said door needed some color. The only interesting thing about this door was the cast-iron, black mammy door knocker. (Purchased by Ebay- business-partner in a box lot of stuff at an auction. I snorted at and ridiculed the black mammy, and declared that it would never sell. It became the butt of many jokes. And then one day, I realized that I had become excessively fond of it, and put it on my own door. This is now the second door that it has graced. It's okay; you don't have to like it...but she makes me smile.)

Now paint color choice: Still loving "robin's egg blue", but was not able to find that exact shade, as my attempted selections seemed to swing between "smurf blue" and "institutional
green/blue" (remember the chicken house?)..so I settled on an entirely different color: "yellow."

Not lemon or pale, and certainly not mustard...think Tuscan-sun yellow. The way the afternoon sun hits our house suits the final paint selection just right; deep, lazy, sun-warmed yellow. And (bonus) it really complements the Black Mammy.

It looks a bit more Caribbean (or something) in the picture, than the actual shade is... Meanwhile, we (rather, I) got what we needed, which was a little more color in our lives.
And there it is.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Puffy Pancake (Dutch Baby)

Strapping Young Lad and I are cruising through the recipes in our Mennonite cookbook pancake section; we've made some so-so pancakes and some top-knotch pancakes (at least, by our standards).

I gave the Mennonite cookbook a rest for one round of pancake-labratory-day, and tried this recipe for Dutch Babies from AmericanProfile.com. And it was fabulous! So fabulous that I took pictures of it to blog about. (And may I add "easy". SO easy. Faster than pancakes)

Here it is, because I must share something this good and easy:

Puffy Pancake
2 T butter
1/2 c milk
1/2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 T butter, softened
Pinch nutmeg
Lemon wedges
Powdered sugar (optional)
Fresh berries (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 425 F. (Seriously, you'll be ready to pop this in the oven just as it's warm enough).
2. Melt 2 T butter in 10" oven-proof skillet over medium heat; coat bottom and sides of pan.
3. Whisk together milk, flour, sugar, eggs, softened butter, and nutmeg in a bowl. Pour into skillet and cook for 1 minute.
4. Place pan in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until puffed and golden. After removing from the oven, squeeze lemon over top and sprinkle with powdered sugar and berries. Cut pancake in pan and serve immediately.

You can see how puffy it gets while baking. And you saw how flat it is in the first picture; it's perfectly normal for it to rise and then deflate quickly when it's taken out of the oven.

Also, you'll notice a great amount of butter is used. I have, thus far, successfully cut the butter amount in half and not noticed any adverse results. And don't forget the garnishes; they make it really special. I just use lemon juice out of the bottle and powdered sugar, if I don't have acceptable fruit on hand.

This is so good, it's almost more like dessert, than breakfast!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Barely Bear Project (Part 2)

And here he is. The finished bear. I think the best part about him is these particular buttons for his eyes. The buttons are entirely Strapping Young Lad's choice. I tried re-direction (ie"hey, these other buttons are so neat..), distraction, and I confess, even less-subtle manipulation. He would not be dissuaded from his selections.

At which point, I gave up and started attaching these buttons, because after all, it is his bear. At any rate, it looks like he's winking (the bear). Maybe he is.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Barely Bear Project (Part 1)

So while reading a book to Strapping Young Lad, the plot unfolds, and the book's characters make a big cat from fabric to scare off some mice....

Strapping Young Lad decides we need to make a cat, just like in the book. Shortly after this announcement, he amended his decision that it is a bear (not a cat) that we "need" to make.

The last time I made a stuffed animal of any kind, I was somewhere between the ages of 5 and 10, and my mother did most of the work while I impatiently waited for my bear. This is a picture of said bear, which, amazingly, I still have. (Cool fabric, huh. Good call, Mom. But I digress...)

Here is a picture of Strapping Young Lad's and my bear-to-be...nice pattern, eh? It really was more for me to keep in mind what shape he was to be, as I started hacking fabric. Please note the careful editing done by Strapping Young Lad...Hubby had contributed an aerial view of the bear-to-be for my design purposes; but Strapping Young Lad cut that off because "it really doesn't look like a bear.", he said. (Ah, the wisdom of the Very Young.)

I wisely gave us the luxury of two-days time to complete this important project, and all involved-parties were informed that there would not be a finished bear today. So at the end of Day 1, after much cutting, pinning, and stuffing, this is what we had to show for our efforts.

Lest you be quick to judge, this is only the bear's body. Though it was at this point, I thought this evolving creature would make a very nice turtle. Nevertheless, it is a bear, not a turtle, that we set out to make; so onward we march.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Upcycling A Vintage Bib (continued)

And here we have it (sometimes blogging about it seems more difficult to complete, than the actual making-of-it)....the result of my upcycle of a vintage bib. This is a happy skirt for Baby Girl. Yes, it'll be awhile until she can wear it (it's probably a 2T-3T), but I didn't want to make the bib itself any smaller. I used a pale pink and white vintage-style print fabric for the skirt, that I've been hoarding; it has whimsical baby critters on it. (I also have the fabric in blue. :) I just could not bring myself to chop this fabric up for a quilt, and I think it's better suited for this now anyway.
Thanks for the rockin' bunny bib, Mom! (Am I the only one who frequently uses "rockin'" as a descriptor...)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Baby Shoes

I recently made these slippers for Baby Girl, because I have yet to find any booties that will stay on her little feet. The ribbons and elastic-at-the-heel seemed like a good way to go for staying on (they did stay on for a round of I'm-too-tired-to-stay-awake-but-I'm-still-furious-about-being-put-to-bed crying, so I count these as a reasonable success.)

There are a bunch of free tutorials out there for making baby booties or shoes. Just "google" it.

Meanwhile, Strapping Young Lad has also been busy and informed us the other day that he's headed to Texas in his dump truck. (That's my boy...)

Hubby laughed and told him he'd fit right in with the Texans, because they like to do things "big" too.

So, if you see a sturdy, young fella in a bright yellow, slightly-beaten-up Tonka dump trunk heading south at a slow-but-steady pace..honk...he's ours... ;)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Harness the Imagination

"What?", you may ask. Allow me to explain...
The above picture you are looking at is Baby Girl's socks placed with precision and care somewhere interesting to Strapping Young Lad. This is part of the scenes of my everyday life that make me break out in a grin, when I happen upon them. At the time, I folded these socks and absentmind-edly set them aside to put away later.

Later never came, because I could not find them (again), until I happened upon them another day; this time they were two bright spots of turquoise in a sea of white socks in Strapping Young Lad's dresser.

That's one of my favorite things about my Lad. I frequently find little things ferreted away, tucked carefully into something he thought would be a good holder. (Hubby and I check our rubber boots before putting them on; it's not uncommon to find a tractor, sticks, or other miscellaneous stuffed into them.)

Everyday I find mini-scenes staged around the house, like the one below. Anything he touches gets "arranged."
Strapping Young Lad also enjoys being in the middle of projects (doesn't matter what: construction, cooking, sewing...any will do). I'm learning to involve him, rather than try to work around him. He is the same fellow that it's like I'm pulling his teeth to get him to color a nice picture, and yet he comes up with some very creative things, when I let him loose with something that interests him.
For example, I felt that this scrap and pin number (he made it, while I was pinning pattern pieces) was fairly creative, as well as precise. Now, you may be thinking that I should receive the "Bad Mother of the Month" award for allowing my four-year-old to play with pins, but...well, he is so exacting, and interested in tools/implements of any kind (he also retrieves tools in the garage for us, when neither Hubby nor I, know where the needed-tool is).

So I can barely get my kiddo to color, but he sure can pin-up some abstract art. :)

And there it is for today.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Baby Holiday Dress

This is Baby Girl's Thanksgiving Dress. I actually made it from a bolt of heavier-weight fabric for curtains, upholstery, etc., that I have for sale for here in my Ebay store, Blackberry's shed, by the yard.

And I love the fabric. Turned out very nice for a dressy-dress.

I made a recent trip to Joann Fabric, and was pine-ing after a blush-pink satin for Baby Girl (which is not what I went shopping for). Now you need to understand that I have a basement full of mostly decor-weight fabric (bought from a going-out-of-business factory), that I sell on Ebay. After a brisk mental regrouping, I left Joann's without the pink satin, having decided to make something work for her dress from my basement store.

The sash, a small compromise, is made from an on-sale fabric from Joann's... "tropical linen" has metallic gold stripes. If I had it to do it over, I would gather the over-lay of tulle for a bit more pizzazz, but I'm still pleased with the creation. I didn't want the dress to be "fussy" (this time :) ), and I don't believe it is.

Also, I forced myself to try sewing with elastic thread for the first time (note the sleeves), AND it really IS as easy as the say it is. Much simpler than making a casing for the elastic and feeding it through. (Google "sewing with elastic thread" and you'll find out everything you need to know. Okay, basically, I'll just tell you...merely wind the bobbin with the elastic thread, by hand. Proceed to sew as normal; you can also use a zig zag stitch, or variation thereof, for different effects.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Upcycling a Vintage Bib

Neat old bib, huh. It was my mother's when she was a baby. When she gave me this recently, I thought "How can I possibly use this and allow it to get sweet potatoe and rice cereal all over the embroidery..."

Also note that it is in need of some repairs as well.

Well, I'm in love with the concept of upcycling (repurposing something old into something better to use), so keep posted to see what this gets repurposed into for Baby Girl.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ribbon Flowers Ideas

I'm a little tired today, because I was up too late learning how to make ribbon flowers (whilst watching "Ice Road Truckers"...which if I had an unlimited lifetime span, after a brief course in mechanics I would be inclined to go and do...but that's another story). During my little-late-night study on making ribbon flowers, this youtube tutorial was my favorite, and I had the best results with this method.

Try it, it's easy. The flowers are marvelous embellishments: use them to dress up your gift wrapping, glue to hair accessories, or turn into a pin.

Also check out this site for some different twists:
Ribbon flower and modified Dior rose

Periodically, I force myself to try something new; generally, I'm impatient and simply want to be in the middle of the creative process and don't want to slow down to proceed through the tedium of learning-the-new.

Anyway, my flowers are now adorning some little-girl headbands. I added button centers, which is a move I'm fond of.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Last Say on the Sunflower House

Ah, yes, the end of summer/middle of fall. What you see here is the skeleton that is left of the Sunflower House.

In summary:
Did our child actually play in it often? No.
(I blame the morning glory crisis on this, in part..it didn't feel as much like a house/fort as it ought to have)

However, he helped plant it, weed it, and receives the award for zealously over-watering it for the entire width and breadth of its lifespan.

The Sunflower House, as a purposeful project to spend meaningful time with our child, gets an A+.

The Sunflower House was actually an alternative to satisfy my desires as well as our son's. You see, I am not oblivious to the fact that Strapping Young Lad covets the shiny, battery-operated, just-his-size tractor in the store window. I hear him give a sigh, and gawk as we pass by it. Everytime. Sometimes he even gets to sit on it.

And I'm certainly not above, or too unearthly-good-for, the attraction of that fancy toy; in fact, I'd love to get it for him. And yet, I know from my own childhood (and adulthood), that fancy toys, while certainly not wrong, are not the key to happiness.

So in searching for some thing, some little, but purposeful thing, to invest my time in with Strapping Young Lad; to satisfy the want that the shiny-tractor-in-the-window cultivated for both him and I...that's when I stumbled upon the Sunflower House project. And we'll do it again next year, and we'll also do it better next year (here's to getting the "roof' on next year's Sunflower House).

(If you're new to my blog, please refer to the post for June 26, 2010, for a better understanding of the Sunflower House)

Does Strapping Young Lad still covet the shiny-tractor-in-the-window? Of course. I'm not saying our little project unrealistically fixed wants like that. Rather, it was a very good re-focus of our time and energy together on a little project with big results. And a reminder to me, Strapping Young Lad's Mother, that oftentimes the very simplest of things are the memory-makers. (ie not necessarily dropping a couple hundred dollars on a toy,as much fun as that sounds to me and him)

Ad on my Blog

There's an ad on my blog, that I'm trying to figure out how to remove..It's anti-Sarah Palin and anti-Republican.

I need to address this, since this is my blog and you're reading it, that I have great regard and respect for Sarah Palin. Furthermore, the Republican Party presently is aligning, for the most part, with our family's values.

And I'm deeply offended by the ad and will be removing it as soon as I can figure out how to do so.