Date Night Dice

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A few months ago date nights seemed impossible with baby around, but she's sleeping better and getting bigger. Sometimes it feels like there's never any time for us adults, so we need to make time for each other.

These date night dice could be a fun valentine's or anniversary (or just because) present. We all get stuck in a rut sometimes.
Materials: wooden cubes, black paint, white pen
Time: 10 minutes plus drying time
How to: Paint the cubes black, let them dry, and then write on your date night suggestions. 

Here are some suggestions:
Picnic, Coffee , Long Walk, Drinks, Massage, Candlelight, Restaurant, Ice Cream, Dessert, Try a New Thing, Movie, Boardgames

It might be even more fun to make one cube with locations, and another cube with things to do. For example: 
Places: Park, Couch, Beach, Mall, City, Restaurant
To do: Massage, candlelight, drinks, try a new thing, long walk, good eats

Infinitely customizable. Have fun!

Couch Slipcovers

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My most useful sewing project to date has been my dining table chair slipcovers. With the toddler around, food gets flung EVERYWHERE. It's amazing how far it will end up. We draped some old blankets from Goodwill on our couches for everyday, since the tod climbs all over them, and drools, and spills things... if you have a kid, you know how it is.

This worked fine, and we'd just take off the blankets if people were coming over to visit, but the blankets would often fall off in places, and generally wouldn't stay put. So... as much as they are a tedious pain to make: slipcovers.

I took the blankets which already were large enough to cover the love seat and sofa, and pinned them in place bad side up, and trimmed the fabric. There was no measuring involved, as these are not really for looks, but function. Then I basted them all together with a hand stitch before running them through my sewing machine.

Here's the final product. Not the most stylish of things, but hey, practically free, and really just for catching messes. Maybe when baby has grown, I'll make some in a better color - or not. As I said, they're a tedious pain to sew. This is why slipcovers cost so much.

Admire my sharp corners please and thank you. :D

Leather Baby Moccasins

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The little bean is officially a toddler, and that means walking (or running) everywhere. She wore out her old faux leather moccasins, and outgrew them, so I wanted to make her some new ones. They really are the easiest things to slip on and off a wiggling baby, and she can walk really well in them. In hard soled shoes, not so much yet.

One of the new pairs is made of thick suede. They're so soft they're almost cuddly, but I think these will be much more durable than the faux leather, and also more breathable. One downside to the faux leather is that baby's feet would sweat in her shoes. On the other hand, suede bottoms are not ideal for walking on grass or other moist surfaces, because they aren't waterproof. For running around a gym or indoors these are perfect. I didn't want to treat them with suede protector just in case baby decides to chew on them.

I also made a pair from suede, and red nappa leather. The red leather is half as thin as the suede, so I'm not sure how it will hold up. It was also a lot harder to sew with, and tended to slide even with a Teflon foot and leather needle on my sewing machine. The suede was no trouble at all, so maybe something a little thicker would be easier to sew with. However, the nappa leather is a little bit more water and dirt resistant than the suede. I glued some suede into the bottom of the finished shoes to make a thicker insole and I'm glad for the extra padding. Regular white glue bonded the suede really well.

The old free pattern I used was only good for 6-12 months. This time I bought the Lil' Papoose Moccasins pattern, which was straightforward to use and good up to 4T sizes so I won't have to buy another. Bonus, it's only 5$ and a download that prints on regular sized paper. I'm totally happy with it.

Check out the wear and tear on these old mocs! A sure sign these were well loved and used.

TIP: Since these are shoes, and the seams are tucked in, using some hot glue along the seam helps prevent slipping between leather layers. You can peel it off if any is visible afterwards as well.

DIY Cork Drawer Dividers

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Let me show you the contents of my drawers. Har har, enjoy the terrible pun?

There's not too much to be embarrassed about, because for once, they're actually organized! I made some dividers out of cork to corral the mess. Cork is soft and easy to cut, which made this a quick project that required nothing more than a utility knife. Note: you could totally use cardboard or foam board instead. Both those materials would be more stable than cork.

The directions are simple: Cut a length of cork the same length as your drawer, and make notches where you want width wise cross pieces to go. Cut notches into the cross pieces. Fit together like a puzzle. The result is a removable divider system.

You can make each of the divisions a different size. However, because the cork is soft and flexible, the more cross pieces you put in, the more stable the drawer divider will be. I also cut leftover cork to fit into the bottom of each drawer to keep the cork from sliding around. If you hot glued your cork pieces together, that would also reduce the wobble.

And this is what they drawers looked like before I filled them.

It's amazing how much more you can fit into a space when things are properly folded and organized. I had no idea how many socks I had! This project makes me way too happy, even though no one but you will ever see it. Alas.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

Garden plots

This summer's project is the garden. The local raccoons and crows tore up our front yard (there's a beetle infestation in our area), and so we decided they did us a favour. We made several large planter boxes here because it gets the best sun, and also so we can save the back yard for the kiddo to play in.

Garden plots

We also took down the ugly fence, and decided it didn't need to be replaced. Now you can see the lovely stone planter that was already there in the front of the house. There used to be two stumps of cedar in the stone planter, but we chopped those down, so now we can actually use it for something.

Now... the hard part! Deciding what to plant!

Fiesta Themed Baby Party - Menu

Friday, April 8, 2016

SO we've got the decor covered. Onto the food! We had a taco bar setup for the party and it was a lot of fun. It also made it easy to cover a variety of different dietary requirements (vegetarians, no-red meat, picky toddlers). Best of all, it wasn't too expensive, and most of the dishes could be made ahead so the day of the party wasn't too stressful.

Here's a Sample Menu

Taco fillings:
Grilled Shrimp
Ground Chicken Taco Filling

Black Bean and Corn Salad (also doubles as a vegetarian filling)
Pico De Gallo
Garlic Cilantro Coleslaw

Re-fried beans
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream
Grilled peppers
Pickled onions
Tortillas (3 per person)
Lime Wedges
Salsa verde
Hot Sauce

Restaurant Style Mexican Rice

Puff Pastry Churros

Virgin Margaritas (With a bottle of rum on the side)

Coconut Lime Cake

And yes, shooting photos of the food after people have dug into it isn't ideal, neither is the evening lighting, but eating hot, yummy, food comes before blogging, right? It's the taste that matters. If you're wondering what that square cut dish is in the first photo, it's my mother in law's baklava, a real labour of love. Speaking of baklava, I think there's more in the fridge so I'm going to go now...

Recipe: Coconut-Lime Cake.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Coconut-Lime Cake
(Note: I doubled the recipe to make a larger layer cake)

  • Basic White Cake (You could use box mix in a pinch)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • Zest of 1 lime.
Follow the white cake cooking directions, and add both the coconut and lime at the end.

Add the lime and coconut extract to the butter and sugar when you're making the icing.

*Note: One of my friends asked me, WHAT IS THAT ICING? It really is sooo good. It's not too sweet, it's not oily, but light and airy, and won't melt like whipped cream will. It's the original icing for red velvet cakes. It's good. Trust me.

P.S. Decorating cakes is not my forte. I made a pennant out of chop sticks, string, and washi tape. Couldn't be simpler, and reusable too. It might not look the greatest, but it tasted awesome!

Fiesta Themed Baby Party Decor - Part 2

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I wish I had a whole wall of these tissue paper flowers all year round, but it would make cleaning a little bit difficult. *sigh* These were taped up above the buffet / party favour table, to brighten up a big grey blank space. They're surprisingly easy to make and took around five minutes per flower (my kind of craft). I used more recycled gift bag tissue paper, so they were also free.

The colorful gift bags for the kids are from the dollar store and tied up with lime green crepe paper streamers. The brown paper packages are for the adults. I wanted to give them something too, since not all of the adults invited have kids. They're just pieces of brown packaging paper, taped with washi tape to make a pocket, plus more green crepe paper to hold them closed. Simple.

Want to make your own paper flowers like these ones? Here's a tutorial. I didn't have crepe paper on hand, but tissue worked out just fine and I just taped a couple of sheets together to make the sheets longer. For even easier tissue paper flowers, check out this tutorial.

These would also make awesome photo backdrops or wedding decorations, yes?


Fiesta Themed Baby Party Decorations - Part 1

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Time flies, friends. I do love throwing a couple parties a year, especially since I love cooking for people. I didn't have much time for either of those things in 2015, so I wanted to do something fun for baby's first birthday. One day after impulse buying a package of 80 flour tortillas, a theme was born. A little silly, but true. Inspiration comes from everywhere, folks.

Of course you need some tissue paper pennants if you're having a fiesta. These were ridiculously easy to make and practically free. Do you save the tissue paper that comes with gift bags you get? This was a good way to reuse some of it. All you need to do is cut a rectangle of tissue, make a few strips at the bottom, and staple one edge over some ribbon or string. We doubled the tissue paper layers so there was a bit more strength and fluff to each pennant.

There will be babies at the party, and they're too young to know what to do with a piñata, so we put up a piñata inspired "1" on the wall. We glue-sticked (totally a word) leftover tissue paper fringe to a "1" cut out of a paper bag. Bright? Check. Simple? Check.

Next post, party favours and wall decor!

Baby Tank Top

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

It's not quite warm enough to use this tank top as anything other than an undershirt, but it helps keep baby cozy under her footie pajamas. It's also made of ribbed knit, so should be wearable for a long while. The trim is a cut off from an old knit dress I thought had a cute pattern to it.

This free Baby Tank Top pattern was a starting point. Because the pattern isn't meant for knits, I reduced the flare on the side seams, and didn't use the front pattern piece. Instead, I doubled the back piece. I also lengthened the top because baby's round little belly was sticking out. The bottom isn't finished since the knit won't fray. It's a sweet little pattern with lots of shoulder strap options, and so versatile.

She's also chewing her favorite shoes again.
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