Thursday, February 28, 2013

Make: Dinosaur Hoodie

I cannot believe how long it has taken for me to write a post about this super adorable--ahem, I mean totally cool, big kid Dinosaur Hoodie. I made this as a Christmas present for my nephew, Colin. He loves dressing up as superheroes, so the idea of a pseudo-costume he can wear out in the real world was perfect!

I enjoy projects like this that are simple and customizable. You can make this for a boy or girl in whatever colors and patterns they prefer. You could also mix things up by using shapes other than triangles. It took me less than hour for the entire project, including cutting out the little felt pieces. Would you like to make one for the kiddo in your life? Would you rather make one for yourself? Either way, here's how!

Dinosaur Hoodie

You will need:
Paper for template/stencil
Sewing supplies (sewing machine, thread, pins)

Begin by deciding how large you would like the "spikes" (or triangles along the spine) to be and draw a diamond that equals TWO of those triangles. You can also download this handy dandy template from Ginger & George. Cut out the paper template and use it to create as many felt diamonds as you want. I opted for several small "spikes" rather than a few large ones. I made twelve total.

There is a good chance that the hoodie has a seam running down the back. If so, you are in luck! Using this seam as a guide, pin the diamonds down the center of the hoodie--starting at the front of the hood and working your way to the bottom of the back of the shirt (see photo). If there is not a seam, then do your best to pin the felt pieces in a straight line.

Stitch along this line of diamond, taking care to go through the middle of each diamond.

Now fold each felt diamond in half and pin the side side together.

Finally, sew a straight seam around the edges of each triangle. I liked the idea of the spikes being flexible and flopping around as Colin runs about. But you could also reinforce the triangles with a bit of interfacing before sewing up the edges.

Do you see what's happening? Ah yes, now they are little triangles!

Now your little guy or gal is ready to transform into a dinosaur for the day!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Eat: PanCAKE Bake

 During the work week, my breakfast routine is completely boring: a bowl of cereal with skim milk. I am far, far away from being a morning person so the very fact that I manage to get out of bed at all much less muster up the energy to do anything is a real triumph. There's just no way I'm going to scramble eggs or flip pancakes. I don't even get out my bowl and spoonMatt is a dear and does that for me!

The shame of it all is that I LOVE breakfast food. So most weekends I make something special for us to enjoy and get a break from our Monday-Friday whole grain monotony. This arsenal of recipes is huge but has a few go-to regulars that are easy, can be prepped the night before, and (most importantly) delicious. This PanCAKE Bake has quickly become such a favorite!

I mix up the batter on Friday evening and keep it in the fridge overnight. First thing Saturday morning, my early-riser husband will pour it into a baking pan, throw it in the oven, and set the timer. In a perfect world I wake up by the time it's ready! This recipe is straightforward, using staple ingredients you are likely to already have in your kitchen. The first time we made it we were a bit skeptical that it would actually have the fluffy consistency of pancakes but it really does. You get the yummy goodness of pancakes without having to stand at a griddle for 20 minutes. All in all, I highly recommend this one!

PanCAKE Bake

Dry Ingredients:
1-1⁄3 cups flour
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1⁄3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt

Wet Ingredients:
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients: milk, oil and egg. Now add this blend to the dry mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy).

Fold in whatever "extras" you want (like a cup of fresh or dried fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, etc.) and cover with Press N Seal wrap. Store overnight in the fridge.

In the morning, preheat your oven to 400°F and grease an 8-inch round pan. Spoon the batter into the pan and bake for 20-30 minutes (or until the cake is golden and pulls away from the pan sides). Cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes, then flip the pan over to remove the cake. Flip the cake again (so it is right-side up) onto a large plate. Top with your favorite syrup, fruit compote, powdered sugar, or nothing at all!

If you do not want to prepare the batter ahead of time, simply follow the instructions as written but preheat your oven while mixing everything and omit the overnight refrigeration step.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

(Don't Hate) Valentine's Day...a craft round up!

Growing up, my family celebrated Valentine's Day as, well, a family. My mom was pretty adamant that it was not a day exclusively for romance but rather a day to celebrate all sorts of love. She would make a fancy dinner for whole clan and my dad arrived home with not one but three bouquets. To this very day my grandmother, my mother, my father, my sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew, my husband, and myself all exchange candy gifts--I've even gotten my in-laws in the mix. I think this perspective takes Valentine's Day from a generally lame, pressure-filled day to a really great one. Dean Martin wasn't joking when he said everybody loves somebody sometime. Maybe that somebody is your spouse, partner, parent, friend, cat, whatever. My point is don't be a hater and join in the fun.

As I mentioned, my family has a sweet tooth so candy is the preferred Valentine's Day gift. Over the years, as our numbers have expanded so has the cost of candy! A few years back, Matthew and I began making homemade treats. This not only costs less but also allows us to give more candy to each person!

In years past, we've experimented with more elaborate recipes and combinations of treats. This go-around, however, we got back to our chocolate roots with straightforward candy molds. I bought a small set of heart-shaped molds along with several ounces of semi-sweet chocolate. Then we played around with different "extras" like wafers, sprinkles, crushed-up Whoppers, and the like. It made for a fun evening together. All of the candies were divided among plain boring sandwich bags which were instantly transformed into adorable Valentine's Day bags with these toppers designed by Thirty Handmade Days.

And this centerpiece? Easy as can be. Starting with my apothecary jars, I simply cut three heart shapes out of seasonal scrapbook paper, added smaller red paper hearts, and secured everything with yarn. I threw in some scented red candles for good measure.

I love this argyle wreath. It is wonderfully understated in a world of over-the-top, cheesy Valentine's decorations. Assembly is easy but time consuming. To begin, tie a loop of yarn around a form ring, securing it with a double knot. Then, wrap the yarn around the ring a few times and smoosh it all together so that you can't see any foam behind it. Also pull the yarn taut. Move on to the next section of foam and repeat, repeat, repeat until you have covered the entire ring. Tie one final knot on the back side of the wreath. I opted to add small felt hearts, laying them out flat on the wreath. Then I carefully wove more yarn around the wreath, taking care to make an X over each heart so they won't slip out of place.

Last is my banner. Oh, this was fun! A friend of mine posted this on Facebook January 31st and I knew I wanted to try it. It's sort of like an advent calendar for Valentine's Day, where each envelope has a fun activity for you and your partner (or family, friends, etc). I made a list of easy, low-key activities ranging from a picnic dinner to a martini night. Considering I threw this together at the last minute and I'm terrible at writing in bubble letters, I think it turned out nice enough.

That's it for my Valentine's Day round up; I hope this holiday finds you in good spirits and ready to share some love with those around you!