Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gingerbread cake and pumpkin butter

I first made this delicious, moist, deeply-spiced cake last fall and it has already become a family standard . Whenever the real winter weather starts, I crave this cake. It fills the house with such a wintry aroma. And the good news is, the recipe produces a huge amount of cake that freezes wonderfully, ready to be pulled out and zapped in the microwave at a moment's notice. I think small squares of it would also be a welcome addition to a holiday cookie plate. I've also considered drizzling it with chocolate (chocolate and gingerbread--I know, it sounds weird but for all of us out there who have had the combo, it's strangely tasty and intriguing, no?)

The recipe is here. I tried substituting half the oil with applesauce this time around and the result is a slightly lighter cake that I don't feel too guilty about having for breakfast. If it's your first time though, I'd make the original recipe as is because really, it's worth it.

And the pumpkin butter, it's also somewhat of a holiday staple around here. It's great on toast and scones, stirred into oatmeal, or I'll put a dollop of it inside pumpkin muffins just before I throw them in the oven. Yumm!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A very cool homemade gift

Isn't this the neatest artsy gift set for a little (or big) one? You can find directions for making it here

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Some lovely things I would make if only I had the time...

While perusing this website today, I found this collection of beautiful things I would love to make....

I love the orange scarf on the right (that lace!) And the Marie Antoinette doll would be a great Christmas gift for my sister. We saw Sofia Coppola's movie together in Ireland and adore its unashamed girliness. I mean, how could you not love a movie in which the inspiration for the color palette comes from a tray of macaroons?

I hope everyone is having a wonderful fall!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Some Fall inspiration

What a great idea for celebrating Fall. This website is amazing for beautiful craft ideas.

 I mean really, look at this amazing 'playscape.' So cool.

And an old sweater recycled into a scarf? Radical!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Homemade graham crackers and an easy baby blanket

Has it really been a month since I last posted? I must say, going back to work outside the home has really been keeping me busy. Monday through Friday for the last month, we have left the house at 6:30 am and we don't get home until 12 hours later. It's all I can do to take a shower and crawl into bed after a day like that. Plus, we are moving to a new house in a week(!) These are all good changes of course, but the transition has been difficult. I've barely had time to celebrate the coming of fall by communing with my oven and sewing machine! But in a week or so, all will die down again and life will hopefully return to a more sane and healthy pace. I am looking forward to daily exercise, a more healthful diet and more time with family and friends.

But in the meantime, here are a few things we've been working on around here the last few weeks.

This blanket was a gift made for a very special little boy, born just a few weeks ago. The fun animal print is 100% cotton, the blue is the ultra soft baby blanket material that you can now buy in fabric stores everywhere. Although this blanket is of very simple construction, it took forever to make because I couldn't sew it without the blue fabric shifting all over the place in my machine. Thankfully, one of my more experienced sewing friends (good to have) told me to machine sew it with the stretchy blue fabric face down. It worked like a charm and the blanket came together lickety split.

Next we discovered how wonderfully easy and delicious it is to make homemade graham crackers! I found the recipe in this book. I really love making things from scratch for Jack, especially things like these crackers: the recipe makes enough to last a few weeks, they are easy to throw in a bag and pull out whenever Jack gets wonky, and they are made (at least partially) from whole wheat flour. Now you can't say that about the store-bought variety. I appreciate that feeling of knowing exactly what is in the food I give my boy.

I've decided this is going to be my Halloween costume this year. What should I call it? Should I just tell people that I'm a bird's nest? I think it's pretty cool. Surprisingly, this will be my second Halloween costume that has included fake birds. Strange.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sweater Pole project

Our 'Yarn Addicts' group completed two knitted pole sweaters over last month. They can be seen in downtown Santa Rosa.

Six people worked on them, each knitting or crocheting one or two (or five) sections, and then they were all crocheted together onto the poles.
Aren't they cool?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sweet corn pancakes

We made these the other morning when I remembered that there were seven ears of corn just sitting in our fridge.

They were good, very corny. : ) I loved how the addition of cornmeal kicked up that corn flavor.

I forget where I learned the trick of cutting the corn off the cob using a bunt pan, but it's genius!

And here they are drenched in butter and syrup, just the way we like them! You can find the recipe here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Jack's banner

Jack got a new, big-boy bed. To celebrate, I whipped up this happy little banner to hang over it!

First, I made a triangle template out of cardboard. I traced this six times onto doubled up material and sewed up three sides, leaving the shorter side open.
Then I trimmed the points to make turning them out easier and to make the points cleaner.
Then I turned and pressed them.
I laid out some extra-wide double fold bias tape and arranged the triangles at even intervals and pinned them in place.

 Finally, I sewed everything together with thread that matched the bias tape. It was done within an hour!  Too cute!

For more detailed instructions and a slew of other beautiful projects, I highly recommend this book.

Friday, September 3, 2010

King (and Queen) of the Forest Crowns

(Jack wouldn't model this, so I had to. Luckily, it's big enough to fit the both of us.)

On our morning walk, we collected some leaves to make a crown in honor of the coming Fall. I saw this and thought it would be a great project to do while Jack did his morning coloring.  All you need is some felt, ribbon, leaves and a hot glue gun. It would be a great addition to a last-minute Halloween costume too, very Puck-like.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Homemade Finger Puppets

These are so cute and look like such fun to craft. I'd imagine even those of us who claim to be drawing impaired could still whip up a basic bunny or owl shape and go from there. The embroidery is so pretty too. Me thinks my little monkey could be getting a Mommy-made woodland creature set for Christmas this year!

Source here

And here is another homemade set inspired by the first.

Source here

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I heart this book!

Seriously, I borrowed this book from the library and very quickly realized that I had to own it. I like her other encyclopedia of crafts, but this is 400 pages devoted entirely to sewing and fabric crafts which is totally... awesome! I have started three projects in the book and haven't yet completed one (durrr) but am very happily on my way. And with cooler months ahead, I'm sure this book will be taken down off its shelf and lovingly paged through many evenings.

Here are a few of my favorite projects...

Felt banner


Happy sewing!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sweet and easy crocheted baby booties

Since I recently learned how to crochet (I'm a knitter) I've been looking for a simple basic project that I could practice my new skills with.  This may be the one! I wonder how long Jack would keep these booties on for...

The free pattern and photo credits are here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Biodegradable Orange Birdfeeder

Isn't this a cool birdfeeder?  Once the birds "have eaten all of the seeds, you can refill it as many times as you like. Eventually the orange shell will degrade and fall to the earth, and the wool yarn will prove to be a lovely addition to any bird’s nest." Done and done. For directions, click here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I've been thinking about Halloween costumes lately. Halloween was a different kind of fun before we had Jack, it involved elaborate costumes, parties and usually copious amounts of alcohol. Now that Jack is here, it's tame. No less fun, just different. You parents out there understand.  While I love making costumes for Jack, I kinda miss making elaborate costumes for myself. While I could certainly put on a costume myself while pushing Jack in his stroller while trick-or-treating, it's just not the same. And I think some people might find it odd were I to wear the kind of costumes I'm used to wearing. Not that they're risque, just elaborate.

But anyway, the costume I've been imagining for myself--for an elaborate event in the far future, is an ostrich. I see layers of petticoats topped with feathers, ballet pink tights, black suede heels, heavily makeupped eyes and wild, flyaway gray hair. A Tim Burton ostrich, if you will.

Here is what Jack wore last year. Cute, huh?

You can find directions on making the lamb costume here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dressy Bessie fix up!

Well, the Dressy Bessie project is complete. It was fun working on a beloved doll from my and my sister's childhood. First, I mended the big rips by just sewing them closed as best I could.

Since her dress was so shot, I decided I needed something big to cover it up. But I wanted to keep the snap, zipper and button accessible, so I made a little apron for her. Then I appliqued patches over the big rips using some cute, retro fabrics. She also needed some new hair and shoe ribbons. And voila--done!

Isn't she cute?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tree sweater

So my knitting group has been working on a sweater pole project, that is, a knitted sweater for a downtown lamppost. I saw this tree and got all inspired to try something like this next. Crazy? Maybe.

photo credits here

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Scrappy Owls free pattern

Aren't these the cutest owls you ever did see? There's a free pattern for them right here. Happy crafting!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Project

While going through some old toys in Hawaii, I found my old Dressy Bessie doll. She has some damage but is still such a cool vintage doll that I've decided to fix her up and pass her down to Jack. First on the agenda, a good cleaning.  Next, her snap and zipper are a bit stiff, so I'll need to grease those up a bit.  Last, I'll fix the big rips in her dress, stockings and arm. I haven't decided the best way to go about doing this--maybe patches?  But do you see the potential?

We are slowly readjusting to being back in California. Hawaii is such a peaceful, beautiful, natural place, it's always a struggle to get used to freeways, traffic and reliable weather again.

I love the changeable weather in Hawaii, and I love that you spend so much time outdoors that you can't help but feel at the whim of Mother Nature. Yeah you wanted to go for a hike, but there's torrential rain coming your way. Sorry. And the pace of life...well, this picture says it all.

So I guess my next question is, when are we going back?