Thursday, December 17, 2009

Felt Reindeer shirt

A couple posts back I showed you this Christmas shirt I made for my daughter Madeline. I didnt want John to feel left out, so today I whipped up a Christmas shirt for him too!
Around Thanksgiving I saw some really cute shirts with turkeys appliqued on, the feathers being made from a child's traced hand. I wanted to make one for Maddy REAL BAD but I just didnt have the time or the right supplies.

Now that its Christmas, the memory popped into my head of making reindeer out of our traced hand and foot prints cut out of construction paper back in Kindergarten or so.

The worst part of making this shirt was getting the hand and foot tracings. John did not want to hold still! I ended up tracing a tennis shoe in his size instead of his foot, so its maybe a bit bulkier than his foot would have been. I love how now whenever I pull this shirt out for future kids I can look and see how big Johns hands and feet were at 8 months.

Another thing I like about this project is the fact that I already had the shirt on hand - it was a Walmart buy, intended for his Peter Pan costume that never really got made. He did wear it on Halloween to keep warm, but other than that it hasnt gotten a whole lot of use. Its almost too small now, but thats okay since Christmas Eve is in a WEEK!

I plan to have both kids wear their Christmas shirts on Christmas Eve, and hopefully I'll get a nicer Christmas outfit made for each of them for Christmas Day. I'm thinking this could be a fun holiday tradition, a new Christmas shirt every year. By the time the last kid makes it through (s)he may have enough Christmas shirts to wear one every day until the 25th!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Homemade Christmas Part III - Mei Tai Baby Carrier

I used this site as a general guide how to make this Mei Tai Baby carrier. My cousin Tiffany made me one and I used it ALL THE TIME with John when he was a newborn. Grocery shopping, story time, around the house when he didnt want to be put down. The Mei Tai is so much more lightweight than a Snugli or whatever they call them (we have an EvenFlo brand that has thick padding and lots of snaps and belts that get twisted). Of course the Mei Tai may not be the best for long-term or long-distance carrying - I had John in it once when we walked to Yokes and back which is about a mile and it ended up being very uncomfortable at the end. On the website I gave at the beginning it talks about the benefits of wider straps, and different sizes for the body part...these straps are about 3 inches wide and the body carrier is 16 in by 18 in approx.
I might try to get better pictures up later, because it really is much cuter than in this shot. The fabric is green with white stripes, which is vintage I guess...Mom says its from her "California Days". She lived in San Diego area from 7 to 14 years old, so that would date this fabric between 1968 and 1975. I never would have guessed its that old because its something you could easily find at the fabric store now. Luckily there's a good 2 1/2 or more yards left, because I'm itching to make a cute matching dress and shorts outfits for Maddy and John!

Homemade Christmas Part II - Capes

A few weeks back we had my niece and nephew come over during the day while they were staying with Kyle's parents. I noticed how much they really liked the PBS kids show Super Why - Teancum sang the entire theme song by himself, well before the show even started. Good thing we have Teancum and Marina's family for the gift exchange because I got the genius idea to make them their own CAPES so they can be Super Readers too!

Originally I had bought a yard of flannel for each kid plus Maddy with the intention of making the traditional Christmas Eve pajama pants. But then I decided that would entail a lot more work than I have time or energy to do...finding out the right size, cutting out all the pattern pieces, worrying about the elastic waistband being too big or too small. As I was searching through craft blogs I came across a few capes people had made and were then selling. FOR OVER $20! Yeah, they were neat looking and all, but I could make it for so much cheaper!

So, I did it. In the last 2 days I pumped out 3 capes, with my own design. I didnt really use a pattern even. Just eyeballed it, which is probably why Marina's isnt as good as I'd like - that and the fabric I used was too stretchy!

This is for Teancum. The flannel is green with police cars and fire trucks in orange, blue, yellow and white. I used navy blue brushed-something from my mom (leftover from a costume years ago.) This was the second one I made, and I like this shape better than the first. Oh, the neck tie is out of the flannel and has velcro sewed on.
This is Marina's. I wish I had time and energy and supplies to make a better one for her. The light pink is a terrycloth thing, also from my mom's huge supply, and it was way stretchier than I anticipated. Even though I pinned things on very carefully it still shifted so the letter is not centered and things are just a wee bit off. I keep reminding myself a 3 year old isnt going to care, but still. Oh, and the flannel is light pink piggies with a light green background. Super cute.
This one is probably my favorite, despite its flaws. It was the first I made, and I did more of a triangular shape rather than the teardrops I did for the others. I prefer the teardrop; I'm hoping to tuck the corners in to make them rounded like you see the corner on the right, but a little smoother. Also its narrower at the top; I think I like it wider. But I love the strawberry flannel and the hot pink cotton...cotton is MUCH easier to sew than those other stretchy fabrics!
And here's Maddy with another one of her Christmas presents. This is the 3rd doll I've tried making, and the first two were pretty sad looking - its hard to get the arms and legs sewed on just right! This one turned out much better, but she took off with it before I could sew her head shut, if you look close you can see the batting sticking out a bit at the top. She's been carrying it around everywhere, which is nice that she actually likes something I've made her. Now I have to figure out how to make it disappear and wrapper without her realizing its gone!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Tree shirt

I didn't copy this exactly, but I did get the general idea from Small Fry and Co. She did a Christmas tree with ric-rac on a white onesie for her new little baby. I thought this was just a tad too girly to do on a onesie for John, but it would look great on Maddy right?! They dont make onesies in monster sizes for Madeline of course, but I figured a T-shirt would work fine. Of course Joanns didnt have any small enough, and I wanted to use my 50% coupon, so I settled for a Youth Small and decided to cut it down and make it a little more feminine looking.

I took in the sides a couple inches, but I also cut off the sleeves, gathered the top of the sleeve, sewed it back on, and then gathered the hem of the sleeve and put some elastic in it. I really like how it changed it from some old T-Shirt to a slightly nicer T-Shirt, and was pretty easy to do. (PS I didnt have any red-red thread which is why I used white there...slightly tacky perhaps, but Maddy didnt complain!)

Small Fry and Co hand sewed her ric-rac on, and said it came out crooked because of that. I tried machine sewing and it still ended up a little crooked. Also, I should have finished the ends of the ric-rac with No-Fray or something, but I thought maybe a bit of fraying would look like a cool tree. It doesn't.
I used sequins instead of buttons, one because the colorful buttons were three times as much as a pack of mult-size sequins. And then I would also have to buy a star button, which would have been another $2 or so. (They didnt come singularly, in a pack of like 4 I think - I already had the gold star in my stash of supplies, but I had to hot glue it on.) The other reason for the sequins is that I thought Maddy would like the shininess more. She did. She loved to rub her hands up and down it all day long, and as a result almost all the sequins fell off.

I intended for the sleeves to be higher up, at the top of the arm like a normal shirt. I just didnt take off enough at the top when I took in the sides. But now I think I'm starting to like it lower like it is. And the more I look at it the more I LOVE the poofed sleeves!

Maddy really did like her shirt, after the initial fight to get her to try it on.
While making this shirt, I didnt have any (willing) model and didnt even have a shirt that actually fit her since I had just finished washing and putting away all the laundry when I put her down for her nap. It ended up being a little too narrow through the trunk, but seeing as she has less than 2 weeks left to wear it, I think it'll be fine. I am a TERRIBLE hand sewer, so thats probably why the sequins came off so easily; they weren't very secure so I'm glad I didnt make one for John or he would have eaten them!
And, contrary to what it looks like in the pictures, the shirt IS a Christmas red, not a red orange. My sister turned the flash on my camera on and I cant figure out how to turn it off so they all turn out a little odd.
This next week I plan to make a Christmas shirt for John, if it turns out I'll make sure to post it!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Homemade Christmas Part I - Advent Calendar

I've decided this year to try to have a Homemade Christmas as much as possible. Besides the hope that it'll be cheaper than store-bought gifts, there's also the fact that Kyle works all day almost EVERY day, even Saturdays, so when am I supposed to get out to shop? Even when he has the work car and I have the van, which is only Friday and Saturday, I would still have the kids. I would either have to take them with me (disaster waiting to happen!) or dump them off with one of my kindly relatives, who I already take advantage of way too much.
Luckily, my kids are too young to care if the things are homemade and the people we have for both family gift exchanges seem pretty easy going about those things.

I've actually seen this craft on multiple blogs, and most if not all link back to another blog, so I'm not sure exactly who to give the credit to for this. This is a mini-muffin tin turned into an Advent calendar...genius!! Especially for me, since I got a mini muffin tin for our wedding and hardly ever use it because I HATE washing it! There's just enough room for a few candies behind the numbers, right where the muffins would be.
All the other calendars I've seen actually have the muffin tin sitting vertically, but I put mine horizontally because of how the decorative numbers turned out; I wasn't thinking and did only 4 designs, so all the polka dots would have been in one verticle line, all the green on red in another, the red on green in another, and the trees on another. I like matchey-matchey, but even that was too much matching for me. Horizontally works much better.
All the other ones I've seen use scrapbook paper and either print the numbers off or use a CriCut machine and then Mod Podge over it all and put mini magnets on the back. I do NOT like cutting out paper. (I think I failed that part of Kindergarten, because I seriously cannot cut in a straight line.) So, instead, I used some digital scrapbooking downloads I had and on one 4x6 picture that I printed out at WalMart I was able to fit 6 2x2 squares, so I printed out 4 pictures totaling somewhere around $0.76. Much cheaper and FASTER than if I'd done it the way everyone else does!
I did have to cut out each square, which wasnt great. Some are a bit smaller than others, but you cant tell that in the picture right? After I cut them out, I used Contact Paper to make them more durable. I searched for mini magnets but couldnt find anything small enough. So I bought a sheet of self-adhesive magnet and cut it into tiny pieces and stuck one in each corner of each square. By far the most time consuming part of the project!
I also lucked out and found a cheap easel at WalMart yesterday...$.86, I believe, compared to the cheapest one at JoAnns is over $5.00. Since I'll probably only be using it at Christmas I figured that would work just fine!
I printed off another set of numbers, in case I messed up the first ones. I think I'm going to make up another Advent calendar for Kyle's sister Brooke and her family, since thats who we have for the family gift exchange. They wont be able to use it this year, but they'll have it all ready for next year.
Tomorrow, check back to see what I've done to make this little lovely even lovelier:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cranberry Swirl Loaf

I've never baked with cranberries before, so I was surprised by how many seeds were in those suckers! They all sunk to the bottom, thank goodness.

I hate cranberries.

I really do. Anything with the word "berry" in it should be sweet in my book. Cranberries are not sweet. Ask Madeline; she kept insisting on having one to eat, but as soon as she chewed it a bit she realized how disgusting they really are. (Ironically, she kept coming back every few minutes wanting to try one again, with the same result every time.)
That being said, I L-O-V-E this Cranberry Swirl Loaf. I came across the recipe in the Taste of Home magazine two years ago, so when we were still newlyweds. Kyle kept dropping his not-so-subtle hints that he'd like me to make it. I'm a baker, so I finally relented and gave it a try.
It was a disaster. And I'm not being hard on myself, plain and simple it was horrible. You could tell we were still newlyweds by how much Kyle actually managed to eat over the two weeks it sat in the fridge...he was afraid of hurting my feelings I think.
Anyways, we stumbled across the recipe again recently, and as a surprise I made it for him tonight. He said it was wonderful to walk in to such an aromatic house. The bread had just come out of the oven when he got home at a quarter to 9, so the timing was perfect.
There was just one little problem that I didn't discover until it was too late.
You're supposed to let the bread rise AFTER you put it in a loaf, as well as before. I only let it rise before. Come to think of it, I think I made the same mistake last time too. (Although I made a lot of other ones last time too.)
I should know that. I've only made two loaves of bread every week for the last two months!!!! Oh well, I tried a slice and this time it was SO GOOD, especially warm from the oven. It doesn't look as pretty as the Taste of Home picture, probably because I didn't roll it as thin or zig-zag it as much into the pan...I had two screaming kids at the time, I had to cut a few corners.
Anyways, give it a try! The crumbly topping alone is worth your effort, but the entire combination is quite delicious. We'll see if the loaf survives the night!
UPDATE! So I realized the link to the recipe doesnt work. Sorry! Heres the recipe:
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 package (1/4 ounce) quick-rise yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, cubed
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter, divided
In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a saucepan, heat the water, milk and butter to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
For filling, in a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, brown sugar and water. Cook over medium heat until berries pop, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in the butter, walnuts and lemon juice. Cool.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; roll into a 20-in. x 10-in. rectangle. Spread filling to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Place in a zigzag pattern in a greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pan.
For topping, in a small bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut in 1 tablespoon butter until crumbly. Melt remaining butter; brush over dough. Sprinkle with topping. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped. Carefully remove from pan to a wire rack to cool. Yield: 1 loaf (16 slices).
I highly recommend going to and search "cranberry swirl loaf" to see a prettier picture of it!