Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I need some help from all of you. To get in the Halloween spirit, my husbands family has a pumpkin carving contest every year. They can make anything a contest... The prize is bragging rights. So, if you get a chance, I would love for you to vote for your favorite pumpkin at BurgerTyme which is my husband's burger blog. All the votes are tallied on Halloween night.

If you carved pumpkins this year, I'd love to see them!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

10% off at Sew, Mama, Sew!

Ends Nov. 1st. Includes sale and clearance items. Type in the code HH3KICKOFF.

Developing your fancy photos

I just wanted to share this great site for developing your photos. I heard about it from a friend who is a semiprofessional photographer who has won many awards for his photography. He has really nice equipment, as I know many of you have recently invested in some nice cameras. Well, this is the place to get them developed.
This place is great because their products are professional quality and the price is extremely cheap. You can even get all of your framing done through them as well, which is equally affordable for custom framing. You should sign up for their specials sent via email, which are pretty frequent. An example of their pricing: 8x10 = $1.99, and many times they send out the promotion for half off, etc. Also, you can print your images in many media types: wall clings, deck of cards, puzzles, greeting cards. Another perk, you can order your prints, framed items, etc. in boxes that will no where have their name on it so that the receiver is surprised until time to open. This was especially useful for me last Christmas. I got a few of Adam's prized photos printed and framed by them. When the boxes arrived, he was home to get them, but had no idea what would be inside. (Also, I had budgeted a certain amount for the picture to get framed, when I found out how cheap it was, I got to order another one of his favorites in a frame!)
This is a really affordable way to print your photos that you have taken great care to make professional and memorable. If you have invested the money in a nice camera, this site is the way to go. They even have a service that allows them to have one of their professional developers look at the photo before printing and enhance it in all the right ways. And, if this option is not free, then it doesn't cost much. I've used it a lot and can't remember paying much (if anything) for it and it is really helpful.

Anyway - in answer to your question, yes, I am getting paid for this post. JKJKJKJKJK! Ok, i'll pass the mike on . . .

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fabric Frames and Mattes

I sort of mentioned this craft before, but I thought I might expand on it and show some pictures of how I did it (even though I'm sure you could figure it out on your own). This is a cheap and really simple way to use scraps from your favorite fabrics and to bring color or tie a room together. The matte below is for a 4x6 picture and cost .50! The unfinished wood frame above cost only $2.00 and is wrapped in one of the larger scraps of floral chiffon. As a side note, I don't have kids yet, so my sweet pup, Pearl, is the subject of a good bit of my photos. And yes, that is Lord of the Rings in the background...I admit I'm a nerd.

First, I positioned the frame/matte face down over the desired part of the fabric (face down also) and freehand cut with a rotary cutter ½-1 inch around the outside of the frame/matte. It doesn’t have to be perfect because that extra fabric will be glued to the back of the frame where no one will see it. I hot glued the ½-1 inch fabric borders one side at a time to the back of the frame, making sure it is pulled taut. Then I freehand cut about ½-1 inch inside the matte. With a rectangle frame/matte, I cut a slit from the inside corner to the frame on all four corners and pulled taut and hot glued it to the frame. With the circle frame/matte, I made many slits about 2 inches apart from each other. Each slit should be glued one a time so you can control how tight the fabric is pulled over the frame/matte. The bottom left picture shows this step. When you’re done, there should be no wrinkles or gathering of fabric on the front of the frame/matte.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Spinach-Ricotta Pesto Pasta with Crisp Prosciutto and Asparagus

Josh and I got to enjoy this scrumptious pasta dish for Sunday dinner. It was super easy to make. We really really liked it. Hope you do to, if you make it that is.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Giant Cupcake

I've been looking for an excuse to buy Wilton's Giant Cupcake cake pan for a while now. My niece's 4th birthday proved to be the perfect reason. She loves cupcakes, and she loves the fun girly-girl color schemes that would make the cake especially cute. I did a little bit of research online, and I found this tutorial for making a candy liner for the cupcake.

I used two Duncan Hines Devil's Food cake mixes to fill the pan - I discarded about a cup of batter, but probably could've discarded two because I ended up having to trim quite a bit off the top of the cakes once they were cooked. I started baking them at 350, but after 15 minutes or so I found some tips online that said 325 was better so I reduced the temp. I'll start at 325 next time, because I think the outer edges were a little overdone. It takes a long time to cook because it's such a deep, thick base. It ended up being in the oven for 65 minutes. I don't think I trimmed the base quite enough before putting it in the candy liner, because this morning it was cracked a little bit - I think because it was too big. But it wasn't too noticeable, and luckily held together long enough for the birthday girl to get a good look at it. I also could have used a turntable (or helper monkey!) when frosting it, because I had several breaks and crooked parts in the frosting. I used my Cricut die-cutting machine (my most favorite crafting tool!) to make the letters and flowers, then taped them to lollipop sticks and stuck them in the cake.

This picture with the water bottle helps show the scale of the cake - it really is a giant cupcake!

The birthday girl was thrilled with the results - she'd never seen anything like it. Now I'll have to think up more excuses to make this!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

OOooo Scary!

And these I just made with the left over chocolate, i thought they were kinda cute.

Candy Corn Cookies

These yummy and cute looking cookies are super easy to make. All you do is use your favorite sugar cookie recipe (or if in a hurry you can use pillsbury) add orange food coloring and cut into triangles. Bake as directed. Use white and brown baking chocolate for the ends. Don't dip them into the chocolate just spread it on with the back of the spoon. If you dip it adds too much weight for the cookies and they tend to break. Enjoy

Decoupage and such

So I love going to craft stores and looking at the unfinished wood section because it's like a blank canvas, the creative possibilities are endless. The prices are great too, especially if you hit the 50% off sale (which is almost every other week). I needed an extra box around the apartment to keep my growing number of craft supplies in, so I bought this unfinished wooden box for around $4. First I had to unscrew all the hardware so that I wouldn't have to cut the paper any more than necessary. Then I measured and cut out one of my favorite patterned papers to fit all the sides of the box. I used Mod Podge to "decoupage" the paper onto/into the box. You can do this to about ANYTHING. These are a few I found online that I would like to try one day:

-the ceiling!
-pumpkins to make them scarier

You have to be careful with Mod Podge because I found that it will make the paper bubble up if you put on a thick layer. Apply lots of thin layers to make it look good. I've only ever used Mod Podge, so if any of you have used something else with a greater success, let me know!

I have another question now. For some reason I had this HUGE wooden paper clip and I was bored one day, so I decoupaged patterned paper to it. Now I kind of like it, but I have no idea what to do with it. Any ideas? It's about a foot long. Please help me!
This is one I just liked the technique of using a bunch of small squares to create value.

Obviously I really liked the tree quilts.

This one is really neat. It is a Lord of the Rings quilt. The longer you look the more references you see. These picture are of the center, but there was a huge blue border filled with pieces of the book.
I know it is hard to tell from this pic (i took these with my phone) but Gollum is in the right hand corner crawling on some rocks and the men on horses are the DĂșnedain.

International Quilt Festival 2009

Hi all! I haven't heard from many of you in a while. I hope that we are all still enjoying the blog. I really am.
Last week was the International Quilt Festival held every year here in Houston, TX. It was my first time going and I had no idea how much I would love it. I thought going one day would suffice, but I went EVERYDAY it was open except one. I had a blast! The festival consists of 5 days of lectures, quilting classes that range anywhere from basic skills to very complex design and specialized techniques I did not even know existed, and each class ranged from 3 hours to the whole 5 days, booths where you could learn, teach, buy, sell, and a massive area where the most beautiful quilts, ancient and modern, were on display. Above are a few of our favorites, the top being my personal favorite. The detail and obvious labor involved was truly breathtaking. I hope that we can all attend next year. It was truly an inspiring experience.
I have a few more pictures I will share later. I just wanted to share these with you all - thought you might enjoy it.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009


So - am curious about quilting with my sewing machine. What if I take 2 pieces of fabric and make the quilt sandwich with them. Do a binding around the edge. Could that be a blanket? Or, do you have to "quilt" it so that the layers are attached securely? Any help you can offer me will be greatly appreciated.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thank You Candee!

So, my cute sis Candee posted about these glitter pumpkins. I loved it so much, she sent me some of her glitter so I could make them.

Thank You!!
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chrysanthemum Whale Tutorial

Ornaments are a great way to use up scraps of material. And this little guy, Chrysanthemum Whale, is a happy little whale that likes to swing from tree branches, bask in the sunlight, and protect any presents you place under your tree. He is the newest member of my Christmas tree ornament family. And below I will show you how to create one for your home.

  • gather your supplies: your scraps of material, craft batting, pencil or fabric marker, embroidery floss and needle, embroidery hoop, paper, ribbon for the hoop, fiberfill
  • trace or draw your version of a whale, or any other shape or animal that you like onto a piece of paper. Remember to include space for the seam allowance. I usually do a 1/4" seam allowance. A good way to do that is to draw the shape the desired size for the finished product, then trace around it the amount of space you will use for your seam allowance.
  • Make sure that you make your whale facing the direction you want the front to be. Draw a face on him to remember which way is front.

  • After you cut him out, place him face down on the scrap of fabric you will use for the back. Trace, cut and set aside.

  • Take the scrap of fabric you will use for the front right side up and place the pattern on it front side up. Trace but do not cut.

  • Next, trace or draw the pattern you want to embroider. I used a bunch of swirly lines coming up from a center and a stem for the chrysanthemum. Cut a piece of batting the same size as your fabric and place it under the fabric.

  • Place both pieces in your embroidery hoop. These are just a few dollars at your local craft store. I bought the smallest one for this ornament. Make sure to center the embroidery design and stretch it taut.

  • Choose your colors. I chose a soft pink for the petals, brown for the center, and a light green for the stems.

  • Using two strands of cotton floss, thread the needle and begin your embroidery. For this project I used the stem stitch throughout. If this is a new stitch for you, it is very easy to do. It is a great beginners stitch to learn with. There is a great tutorial for it here.

  • After you complete your image cut out your whale, including the batting. The batting, by the way, is useful on many levels. One being, it will keep all of the behind work from showing through.

  • Place your two whale pieces right sides together. You might want to place the ribbon for the hoop now so it can hang in between the two pieces. Make sure the ribbon is all tucked in so that you do not sew over it in other areas except for where you place it. Otherwise you can sew it to the top later. Pin together and sew around the entire whale, leaving a 1" gap for stuffing.

  • Turn the whale inside out and stuff with fiberfill. The eraser end of a pencil or a crochet hook is a good tool to help get stuffing in the fins. Slip stitch the hole closed. If you did not add the ribbon earlier, sew it to the top of the whale now. You are done!
Below, meet Chrysanthemum Whale's sister, Sleepy Dandelion Whale, and their friendly bird neighbors. The birds are easily done and much quicker, as there is no embroidery involved. Just take your two pieces of fabric and place them wrong sides together. Trace and cut your image. Place each piece right sides together with ribbon in between, pin and sew leaving your 1" gap. Turn the bird inside out, stuff and slip stitch closed. Voila!

Enjoy learning new uses for your scraps? Check out more tutorials at Sew, Mama, Sew!

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sewing Group #3

This week we all picked a free tutorial online for an apron. I made one for my sister Tracy. These make great gifts because you can really personalize them with a myriad of embellishments, pockets, cute ties, long, short, etc. Also, they can be sooo cheap. The one I made for Bubba cost me $1.20. This one cost about $8. It all depends on what you get the fabric for and what type of deals you can get on any embellishments that you want, if any.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Homemade Cards

Most of the time when a friend/relative is getting married or having a baby, I always give money as the gift because that’s what I would like if I were them (unless the gift is homemade, I would LOVE that). Although I think money is a great gift, it’s kind of impersonal especially if you’re giving it to someone you know really well. That’s why I started making my own cards. You can find paper and other embellishment material for cheap if you hit the sales right. There are so many possibilities. Then all you need is the dark cardstock for the envelope and for the price of buying a card, you can make many, many cards with a more personal message. I’m in the process of making my own stamp to put on the back of the cards I make.

The envelope is made to fit the card. I make one big piece, fold it in half, and make it the top of the envelope. Then I stitch the remaining sides with colors that match the card. I try to use the color scheme of the event I’m making the card for.

If you have any cards that any of you have made, I’d love the see them!