Posts Tagged ‘Homemade’
‘Tis the season of hearts, chocolate, Cupid and his arrow, and Hallmark cards. As with many other holidays, my true love is/will still be out to sea on a gigantic air craft carrier while I am sitting at home TRYING very hard not to eat the candy our kids bring back from school. Have I mentioned before that my children do not eat candy? Yes, I know, surely there was a chromosome that was switched or left behind or broken in half or something when they were conceived. Whatever happened, our children do NOT have a sweet tooth. I finally just got rid of last year’s Halloween candy.
Anyways…Since Dad is out to sea, we have to prepare early to send him a care package in hopes that it will get there on time. The average arrival time during his deployment was 10 days. Then there was the package that took 5 months to get there. Sometimes it only takes a few days. Whatever the case, it is always better to be safe than sorry!
We kept this care package simple. I made some of his favorite homemade trail mix with a Valentine spin – basically a million different types of nuts, dried cranberries, and the Valentine m&m’s to give it a nice red and pink tone! I threw in a bag of Gobstopper Heartbreakers and also opened the bags of several mixed candy packages – Butterfingers, Hershey Kisses, BabyRuths, Nestle’s, Peanut Butter Cups, etc – to toss in loosely with everything else. Really, my husband won’t eat many of those items, but everyone in the offices shares their care packages with everyone else. A lot of people don’t ever get things sent to them at all, which I think is a terrible shame. I would send every person on that ship a care package for each holiday if I could.
For the actual Valentine part I made him a nice simple little card using small paper hearts to make a flower in the middle on the front of the card (forgot to take a picture before packing it up). The kids made their own special valentines though! A reminder: Dad is out on a aircraft carrier, an all metal aircraft carrier. I don’t know if anything on that ship is not made out of metal. This, of course, makes it very easy to send him things that are magnetic. Homemade magnetic picture Valentines to be exact!
Now, I don’t have a fancy dancy paper/vinyl/magnetic cutting machine like so many of you do, and I probably never will. So we had to do this the old fashioned way!
For the materials I used a 40% off coupon at my favorite craft store to buy a roll of magnet that has one peel off adhesive side (regularly $9.99 for I think a foot by two feet of magnet and make sure you don’t buy the kind that has one paper side), and at home I already had craft paper, stickers, and an x-acto knife.
First, take the magnet out of the packaging and lay it out flat weighted down by books for a day so it won’t curl up while you are working with it. To begin the project, I cut out two 6 x 6 inch pieces from the magnet and saved the rest for later. I then cut the same size out of my background paper (shown in the picture in a blue pattern).
I removed the adhesive from one of the pieces of magnet and, being careful to keep it smooth, stuck the blue paper onto the magnet. Using a symmetric heart I had cut earlier to use as a pattern, I placed the heart on top of the paper covered magnet and traced the outline with the x-acto knife. Now I had my magnetic heart base.
Since these were Valentine cards from the kids, I wanted them to decorate them as they pleased. Little K and D used stickers to decorate the border of their hearts, leaving the middles clear for a picture. After they were done, I used 3D mounting squares to place their pictures in the middle of their hearts.
So there we have a fantastic, inexpensive, little Valentine’s Day care package for Dad so he knows how much we love him and are thinking of him! Hopefully he will receive it in time and love his homemade magnets that he can stick anywhere on the ship!
Mamma Mia! Looking for a fun, inexpensive thing to do with your kids on a Friday night? Or even a great party idea to have friends over? How about make-your-own personal pizzas? Been there, done that, you say? Well, don’t just have everyone stand around and put some toppings onto some dough. Instead, turn your kitchen into a pizzeria straight from Little Italy! While visiting Grandma over Thanksgiving weekend, she set up a fun evening for the whole family.
Things she had ready to go:
chef’s hats (I know I don’t have these on hand, so here is a make-your-own version)
felt Italian style mustaches
picnic style vinyl tablecloth
packaged, refrigerated pizza dough
rolling pin (also a necessary part of the costume) :)
small can tomato sauce
traditional Italian music, candles, etc. would also do a lot to make it a fun night
With the kids all decked out in their Italian gear, we sang silly sounding Italian songs (okay, just made them up as went along), talked in Italian accents (my son’s is sounding less and less like Russian the more practice he gets), tossed pizza dough in the air (don’t be afraid to eat dough that landed on the floor…come on, just dust it off! or clean your floor first!), and had a LOT of laughs. The pizza turned out fantastic and the kids gobbled it up like there was no tomorrow. And let me tell you, my kids don’t usually jump on food like this when they usually can get it as a special treat at a fast food place. They BOTH said it was the best pizza they ever had.
That’s what happens when all that love and laughter goes into it!
To continue with a post about my daughter’s birthday, I wanted to share with you the treat bags I sewed. This was not a project I had intended on completing for the party. I did not want to buy the cheap little plastic bags to put the treats in for the guests, but I also thought I would be able to find something cute to put them in! While I was searching for inspiration, I found some wonderful small canvas bags online that had drawstrings to pull them closed. Alas, I was doing this mere days before the party and would not have enough time to order them. I went to every craft/fabric/grocery store in my area and they did not have anything close to what I was now bound and determined to have for the party! So, I did what any other Martha Stewart mom would do and decided to make them myself!
I have tons of leftover fabric from previous projects/projects I never finished. Since it was a princess party I went with pink fabric for the girls and green fabric for the boys. Initially, I was going to throw the things together, sew them really quick up the side and tie a ribbon around them. After speaking with my super sewing mom, I was talked out of that! She convinced me of how easy it would be to take a few quick extra steps to make the bags look cute and better put together.
First, rip the fabric into elongated rectangles, about 10 inches by 16 or 18 inches. Fold in the edges of the two elongated sides, approximately 1/4 inch, and iron (this is to create a clean edge). Fold the rectangles in half along the short sides, with the right, or front sides, facing each other. Iron along fold. Fold down the top of each side so there is approximately a 1.5 inch “cuff” at the top of each side.
*to save time to not have to feed a drawstring through later, I tied the knot in my cording and tucked it under the flap on one side. Leaving a 1/4 inch edge, sew across one side of the cuff. Flip the bag around and repeat on the other side, tucking the cord under the flap and sewing across. Make sure you are not yet sewing the two sides of the bag together!!! OR you can just sew across each cuff and feed the cord or ribbon through later.
Last – holding the folded piece of fabric together, sew up each long edges to close the bag, stopping just at the seam on the cuff. Turn bag inside out and have some fun!
This, of course, still does not produce an amazingly well made bag, but the kids loved them, the adults thought they were great, and it only took me watching the entire movie of Moulin Rouge to finish 24 bags from start to end! Thanks for the help mom!!!
Oh. My. Gosh. I have had WAY too much fun crafting this evening! Just call me Martha! Why? Well, in the next couple of days I will be making cupcakes for a friend of mine. We are having a Girls’ Night Out to celebrate her 7thwedding anniversary. A fellow military wife, J suffers what we must deal with on a regular basis. Her hubby is out on the ship with mine and is not here to celebrate their anniversary together. Not only that, but she is VERY preggo and will be giving birth before her husband returns home.
Needless to say, I wanted to do my own little part to make this a special day for her even though she is celebrating it sans husband! After talking to her about making a cake, the hamster wheel in my head started turning and I decided I wanted to have a little more fun with it. I changed my mind from a cake to cupcakes and decided to go the full mile when it came to making them super cute. So tonight is the first post related to the anniversary cupcakes.
Okay, enough of the background…what did I do tonight, you’re asking? I made homemade cupcake liners, or wrappers, or whatever you would like to call them. I have seen the super cute wrappers in the store but just haven’t been able to bring myself to spend the money on them and really, none of them have been EXACTLY what I wanted. So I decided to take on the task of creating them myself. I did a little research online and found a few other ladies who have tried the same thing. Why reinvent the wheel?! This template that I found on Skip To My Lou is the one I used to begin my own. However, I extended the top of mine another centimeter or so because I wanted the wrappers that extended above the top of the cupcake. I also inserted a tab so I would not have to have tape on the outside of my wrapper. With the tab, I was able to put the tape inside. I also did not print the wrappers directly onto the colored paper. There are only two templates on the given paper. I cut one out and traced it four times on larger paper. This, of course, was a little bit of an added pain (multiply by 24), but saved paper and came out the way I wanted it to look.
***important suggestion – use paper that is colored on BOTH sides. It does not look nearly as nice when you have white paper on the inside. Even if you are cutting the paper to normal size, the white will still most likely be seen.
After tracing the templates onto the paper I used an exacto knife to cut them out. This requires a steady hand, but it is important to know it does not have to be perfect. It is going to be wrapped around a cupcake for goodness sakes! The last thing people will be checking is if it is 100% symmetrical! The first couple were definitely rough around the edges, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly and started to breeze through the cutting process. Since the only two sided paper I had was plain, I decided I would use my stamping materials to embellish the paper. SO FUN! Put some paper down (or you can stamp prior to cutting) under the cutouts and make sure the stamp overlaps the borders of the paper and especially both ends where the tab and insert are. This helps hide the imperfections of the cutting job!
Insert the tabs, tape the inside and voila! Homemade cupcake wraps!
How in the WORLD have I never done this before?! For at least a decade, I have baked a million cakes of all shapes and sizes. I make the batter, whether from scratch or a box, grease and pour it into the pan, and stick it in the oven to cook for half an hour. When the cake comes out of the oven it tastes delicious (usually). If I am baking it to just keep at home I plop some icing on it without thinking twice and savor the taste. If I am baking it to decorate and give to someone else, at least one more step is usually involved.
When you bake a cake, the edges of the pan cook first and the batter stops rising up the sides. Of course, this means the only place the cake can rise is in the middle. I am pretty sure everyone who has baked a cake has gotten a nice dome in the middle, more often than not. The fix to this problem when it happens is to level the cake by slicing the dome off the top. The end result is a shorter cake and a whole lot of wasted scraps that you usually just have to throw out. I cannot stand it when I have to throw food out!
I remember my grandmother wrapping these silver things around the outside of her cake pans when I was young. I had no idea what they were for back then, and as I grew older I didn’t put any stock into something like that affecting my cakes. How could a silver wrap change my cake?
Turns out, A LOT! Those silver wraps are called Bake Even Strips (though other companies produce them as well). Their one and only function is to make the cake bake evenly all around the pan and to eliminate that dome top. The strips range from about ten to twenty dollars and are sold in small and large sizes. You wet the strips and wrap them around the cake pan and the result is a level cake.
HOWEVER, if you are like me, the last thing you want to do is spend $20 on some funky strips. Another option for this is to create your own and it takes two seconds.
Get an old bath towel (or anything terrycloth) and cut a slit in it about 2 inches wide. I did this going across the short side of the towel. Use this slit to rip the the towel the rest of the way (it just takes longer to use the scissors to cut all the way across). You now have a two inch strip of towel between two and four or five feet long. Wet the strip with cold water until it is soaking wet and wring it out just once. You want it to be thoroughly wet, but not dripping. Wrap the wet cloth around your cake pan and secure it with a large safety pin.
Place the pan in the oven as always (make sure the excess towel isn’t hanging down onto the oven coil or anything) and bake at recommended time. This might increase your baking time. I have had to add ten to twenty minutes onto the few cakes I have already used this method on. I wish I had a picture of a domed cake to compare with the LEVEL cakes, but that will never happen now. There is NO WAY I will ever go back to baking without the towel around the edges. It is far too easy and simple and takes no time at all for beautiful cakes!
WOW!!! What a difference! The cakes shown here were all baked with towels around them. I didn’t cut the sides off or level any of them. The result is a beautiful evenly baked cake all the way around! Also, these are reusable, so just re-wet them next time you are baking another delicious cake!
Today I threw a baby shower for a great friend of mine. The dad of the baby is a helicopter pilot and many of the baby’s things are related to planes and helos. I decided to stick with it and made the baby shower helicopter themed (well, I didn’t do much “theme-ing”, but what I DID do was helos). I thought I would have no trouble finding things to aid in my party planning, but it was quite difficult! Time to get to work! I made the invitation from scratch. Here it is below where I have, of course, replaced the personal information:
I used the same helicopter to design the cake as well and used basic buttercream icing:
I did not feel like doing the typical baby shower games like Smell the Baby Poop or Guess that Baby Food. Instead I opted for a craftier avenue to travel down. I bought various sizes of white onesies from 0 months to 18 months. I had the guests make their own onesies for the new baby-to-be. It took a little encouragement for some of the guests and I probably could have used more than two irons to iron letters on, but I was still pretty happy with the outcome. Also, one set of letters – all of the black ones – DID NOT work. I managed to buy a bum package and we all found it out the hard way. A few words of advice: Test it out in advance. I had intended to do this by making a shirt for the mom, but only managed to try it about 5 minutes before the shower began! Find out how long it will take to iron the letters on, etc. My materials for this project were:
various sized onesies
iron on letters and patches
cardboard to stick between the onesie so markers will not bleed through to the back (make sure the cardboard is free of all markings and colors, we also had issues with that bleeding onto the onesie if using the cardboard while ironing)
youth t-shirts. My baby shower was kid friendly, so I also had white shirts for all of the kid guests to use the fabric markers and decorate. We kept them away from the iron on items.
ironing board and iron (have at least one iron for every two to three people).
Some of the sayings we used were BYOB (bring your own bottle). Navy Baby. The baby’s last name. ”Mini (name of dad)”. A picture of a chick then the words “dig me”. Other ideas – Naps Are For Sissies. Bootie Kicker. Little Prince(ss). Drooling Zone.
Finally, the treat for the guests was a bag of candy with a ribbon tied around it. Attached to the ribbon were two cookie cutters – a helicopter and an airplane. I didn’t get a picture of them, unfortunately, but if you look hard enough you can see them in the back corner of the table here:
I had tons of fun planning and celebrating the future birth of my friend’s son. It is such a great way to welcome a new baby to the world!