Saturday, December 5, 2009

12 Layer Mocha Cake

I'm a little late posting today because I was very busy preparing for my wonderful husband's birthday party. When your birthday falls on a weekday, it can be an extra bonus because then you can be celebrated on 2 days! Yay!

I had been busy for the past 2 days preparing this cake.

It is the 12 Layer Mocha Cake that I found on Epicurious. It was delicious. It was unbelievably rich. We served 15 people this cake and are only 1/2 way through it. My co-workers may get some after all! I found the buttercream layers to be a bit too rich. I would have preferred a mousse layer in there instead of a couple of the buttercream layers. The hazelnut meringue was so tasty with a bit of crunch that was fun.

Here are some of my prep pictures, just because I like foodie shots...

The cake layers

 Chocolate for the souffle layers

Melting chocolate for the souffle layers

Egg yolks for the souffle layers

Melted chocolate (mmmm... chocolate)

 The souffle layers

Hazelnut meringue layers

More chocolate melting for the mocha buttercream

Layers ready for assembly

Assembled, ready to chill

Edges cleaned  up

Delicious clean up

Friday, December 4, 2009

Paper Portraits

I am a huge fan of Dude Craft. He finds the greatest stuff. And he shows us all that men can craft. Cool stuff, though.

He has a tutorial to make these stunning paper portraits, which I totally want to try out.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Yarn Christmas Trees

Back to the world of things I might actually make. I love these yarn trees! Pretty Ditty has a great tutorial on how you can make them yourself.

I subscribe to the Pretty Ditty blog, but I also saw these on Whip Up. I think I even have some leftover yarn that would be perfect for this project.

Oh, and on another note, will you take my poll for me? It's over there on the right. I'm wondering if you have a preference with how links open. Personally, I like them to open in a new window, but I have heard that people get confused when they get multiple windows opening.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pants from shirt arms

Now, I'm certainly not the first person to do something like this. But I had not seen them just like this. I made it up as I went along, from other pant making tutorials. Pretty easy. luvinthemommyhood has a good tutorial.

Here is how mine turn out. Z basically just wears them for bed and wearing around the house.

I had to leave the shoulder seams on the arms of the shirt and cut into the body of the shirt a bit to get the width I needed. I think they turned out pretty neat, even if they are just around the house kind of pants.

Pac Man Ring Set

Check out this sweet Pac Man Ring set by Rachel Pfeffer. I would probably never wear it, but I would love it if you would! How come I can't be funky? I want to be funky.

  Found via CRAFT.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Well I did Sew Something

As I mentioned earlier, I was joining in with Creative Little Daisy for a challenge to Sew Something in November. Well, I did not sew the pants I was hoping to sew this month :( It looks like I will not hit that resolution after all. I did manage to have a lovely, successful shopping day with my girlfriend when I went out to the lower mainland this month, so I am not in need of pants as I was before.

Even though I did not sew the pants, I did sew something. I sewed a couple things for my friend, E. She needed a duvet cover made smaller to fit a quilt she had. Also, yesterday we worked on her family advent calendars together. I sewed those too. I did some hand sewing as well, finishing up the sneak peek project that may or may not have been for a certain spouse's birthday, which is today. (Happy Birthday, my love. We'll do it up right on Saturday.)

Here is how it turned out.

I'm actually pretty pleased with how it turned out. I was quite concerned as I was knitting it up, that I was knitting too tight and it wouldn't fit properly. How annoying would that be? Blocking was exactly the right thing to do. Its recipient is also pleased with the result and he claims not to have guessed ahead of time.


 The pattern came from the Canadian Living website. It was a little challenging for me to knit. No new skills; it just required my attention as I knit. A lot of things I like and end up doing are fairly simple to knit. How much more complicated does knitting get? Follow a pattern... it's pretty straightforward.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Argyle Applique

This probably tops my list of cute things that I really like, but will probably never actually make.

Though, you never know. It could happen. Maybe you could make one though. And then you'd have a nice Christmas gift for me... or someone else, I suppose.

It's very similar to this idea which the crafty internets were all over in August:

While I also think this is incredibly cute, it is probably less likely that I would make this because I don't know where I would put it. Maybe in Z's room. Maybe I would give it as a gift. I guess it might make a nice housewarming gift, hmm?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Advent Ideas

As a child, I remember having those chocolate calendars that now you can buy for super cheap and are filled with gross, waxy, cheap chocolate (gee, can you tell how I feel about those now?) At least I remember a year or two of those. I remember better, though, my mom making an advent calendar for our family (and then for the families of all her siblings) and filling them with treats and activity sheets for the whole month. We have an advent calendar that I made for Z a couple years ago at a church event, which has little pockets that I can fill with small treats. I can't really fill it with treats, though, since our little sweetheart has a sweet tooth and has, on more than one occasion, helped herself to the days ahead.

I found a few ideas that could solve our little problem of not being able to wait for the day to come to have another yummy treat.

 This lovely little idea has me intrigued, little reusable links at Stitch-Craft. Found via Ohdeedoh. I love the idea of creating traditions by doing activities together as well as having our children look forward to a family activity instead of just a piece of chocolate. I'm just trying to figure out how we make it work as part of our routine and don't end up forgetting. Roxanne at Craft Addictions has a great starter list of advent activities that you can include in your calendar.

Also, Amber at has a great post full of advent ideas. I love her family tradition of hanging an advent wreath, chandelier-style over their table.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Nope, nothing happening over here

Actually, quite to the contrary. I know it doesn't look like I've been all that busy lately, what with all the posts of old things that I've done and give aways, but the crafts that I've been working on are gifts. Gifts for people (or the children of people) who may or may not read this blog. What's a girl to do?

Link to other people's wonderful crafty ideas with their how-tos. That's what!

Whip Up posted this really great link to this german star tutorial. I love stars and snowflakes at Christmas, even though they're not that overtly Christian. The star is, though. Warning: there is music playing on the tutorial website.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baby blankets

I make baby blankets. I make the kind of baby blankets that I loved the best for my babies. I buy the same length of yardage as the width of the fabric, so I can be sure to make the biggest blanket without getting into quilting or anything. It's really simple: two squares of coordinating flannelette, sewn together with a cute top stitched border. Thats it. They make the best swaddling blankets, I think. Nice and big for my big babies. I swaddled my babes for a long time (5-7 months) and we all loved it!

Above is the second baby blanket I ever made, this time for my friend's baby boy. I didn't know he was a boy. I knew she was expecting a baby any day and so I went to the fabric store shopping for a baby whose gender I did not know. So, I shopped with my friend in mind and when we were roommates, I remember her wearing and loving animal prints. At the time, Fabricland had a nice selection of animal prints. So I picked up this one and a nice coordinating plain fabric for the back. I liked that it wasn't baby-ish at all.

After making that one, I got jealous for a hip blanket for S, since I had made one for him out of goofy fabrics from Walmart before he was born. And so resulted this cute camo puzzle print/camo flames blanket.

Top stitching detail.

My same friend had a baby girl this year and I was happy to discover that she shared the same love of these blankets that I have. She had requested something girly and reminded me that she loved purple, so and I was so pleased to find these two fabrics.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Halloween Costume

I made a couple things for my daughter's Halloween costume this year. Only one of them was made specifically for Halloween and that's this lovely tutu.

Such a sassy little pose.

I made it using this tutorial from Grosgrain. It required almost no sewing. I made it using an Ikea Lill Curtains. The beauty of these curtains is that there is 5 square metres of fabric for only $7! Super sweet deal. I even left the little hem on the bottom since I thought it gave an interesting look to it. You'll notice that Z is indeed dressed for a Canadian Halloween, wearing multiple layers and warmness. It is definitely difficult to do cute girly costumes that are warm enough to wear outside. We had a relatively mild Halloween again this year, but you just never know what the weather is going to be like when you're planning. And now with class dress up parties, you almost need 2 separate costumes: one for wearing to school and one for going out in.

So, the one of the other things I made was the sweater (though not originally intending it for a costume), made from this pattern. I am kicking myself now for not printing this pattern out when I made it for my daughter (I'd just refer to the pattern on the computer). It was free then. It wasn't in Z's size, so I did have to re-size it which, now that she is selling it, the pattern creator has done. I'm pretty sure I could figure out what I did from examining the garment and from memory.

The striping was created from this random stripe generator which is SOOO sweet. The geek in me is kind of excited by the math and programming involved in this. I don't indulge my inner math/programming geek much, instead I just enjoy this little tool and play with all the different possibilities.

The last thing I made was this crown, made from this pattern by Midknight Knitter. I made it with a slight variation, sewing elastic in at the back and crocheting over it, so it would fit a bit better. I had also made this earlier, after one too many cheap plastic crowns broke from being stepped on or otherwise misused. I decided a crocheted crown would solve the broken crown problem, and it has. I made this one in January and it has lasted us until now, it pretty good condition, other than some stretching in the elastic.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lace Beret

This is a beret I made at the end of last year/beginning of this year. It was my Christmas break project. The lace pattern was a little bit addictive, so it only took me about 3 days. Of course, I have children and a husband and all that, so it wasn't really 3 days, but I do remember putting in a little more than just evenings. It was a mystery knit along pattern called "Meret" found on Ravelry. I didn't knit along, because the knit along was finished by the time I found the pattern.

Here it is being blocked. That's a charger plate it's being blocked on! I was a little worried this would stretch it out too much, but it's bounced back a little bit since and looks quite good. If you could see the other side of the charger plate, you would see that the brim of the hat comes almost to the middle of the plate, so blocking it on the charger plate did not stretch out the brim which is really important. I made 2 extra lace pattern repeats since I wanted a slouchy beret and I had read quite a few reviews that recommended doing 2 extra repeats before finishing off.

This is a great pattern for introducing lace knitting, since it's a pretty easily memorized pattern and fairly easy to see where you are in the pattern. It became quite addictive. I recommend it!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Camera Strap Cover

Loads of people who use their DSLR cameras find that the straps they come with are really irritating to wear. They chaffe the back of the neck and they just don't make you want to wear your camera around your neck... and you really should... as a protective measure against dropping it. Not only that, it is handy. I found this tutorial this spring on design sponge for making a fabric camera strap cover. You can buy plenty of camera straps in online shops like Artfire or Etsy, but I didn't really need a new strap, just a cover.

Here is the cover I made from the tutorial. A word of warning: make sure you measure your camera strap before you cut your fabric. Although the writer of the tutorial said she had the same camera as me, apparently our straps were not quite the same length, so the first one I made was a little on the short side. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't right and since it didn't take long to make, I whipped up another one.

This was made with a bit of fabric from my stash. You can also make a patchwork one from scraps, but since I'm not really a patchwork kind of girl, this one was better (and easier) for me. If you want to make a new strap, here is a tutorial for making a whole new cover from scraps (and an old strap).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Give Thanks

Well, this is over a month belated, but once it got near Halloween, I thought I would save this to share in time for American Thanksgiving. If you read as many craft blogs as I do, you can't help but being reminded once Halloween is over, that Thanksgiving is on its way. I'm still not sure I fully appreciate the magnitude of the American Thanksgiving holiday, except that someone told me it's almost bigger than Christmas. That's helpful, I guess.

 Can you see the shadow of my hands in the photo? 
I took this picture with no flash on my point & shoot.

Here is the pie I made this Thanksgiving. I was happy with the crust. It worked this time. The first time I made pie crust on my own, I didn't have a pastry blender and I didn't cut the lard pieces small enough since I had read a tip that it was good not to make them too small. I guess I didn't go quite small enough because when I rolled it out, I could see pieces of lard that then stuck to my rolling pin and... well, it wasn't pretty.

 I did a little bit of playing in iPhoto with these pictures, to warm them up a bit. 
They had a bit of a greeny tinge, which isn't so nice when you're thinking pie.

After yesterday's light post, you'll probably notice that something is a little off about these pictures. Our good camera was in the shop over Thanksgiving. It gave out on us during what was supposed to be a lovely little fall photo shoot at Prairie Gardens & Greenhouses. Fortunately it was still under warranty, and while the guy at McBain said it would take 6 - 12 weeks to get back (I was freaking out: that meant it could get back after Christmas). Happily, they under-promised and over-delivered and it ended up only taking 4 weeks and I had it back in time for Halloween. The point and shoot we have has a "food" setting, which I used for these pictures. Maybe it helped. I don't know.

We have some plastic letter stamps which I usually just let the kids use with the playdough, but they're the closest thing I have to alphabet cutters. I had to be extra careful since they are stamps and not cutters, so I had to gently dig the cut out letter from the inside of the stamp after I cut it in order to use them on the top. You have to look carefully to see the raised word "GIVE" above the cut out word, but it's there.

Happy Thanksgiving preparations, my American friends!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sneak Peek & Light Matters

Ok. So, I can't really go into details here about this project because my husband reads this blog and this project may or may not be a gift for him. It's my own fault, really, since I gave him the gears for not subscribing to my craft blog through google reader. However, he has seen me working on it, he just doesn't know what it is (or he's supposed to pretend he doesn't know what it is, right honey?). But while I show you the sneak peek pictures, I thought I might demonstrate some differences in light and how important light is to taking a good picture.

I promise, I am by no means an expert on this, since I just got my lovely camera last year and I haven't taken a class or read a book. I just picked up bits and pieces by reading other people's blogs and taking pictures. I should note that I have a 50 mm lens, which was recommended to me by a friend whose pictures I always admired on Facebook. I could not be happier with this lens. As lenses go, this is one of the less expensive lenses and I've been so happy with the results. This lens lives on my camera. It lets lots of light in and allows me to take pictures all day and night without a flash. It also has a shallow depth of field which means that it focuses on the subject and blurs out the background. So, you see the kids playing, but the unfolded laundry in the background is blurry (perfect!).

Here are some pictures I took of my secret project last night while I was blocking it.

 This one was taken without the flash,
with some compact flourescent floor lamp lights pointed at it.

This one as taken with the flash.
The same lamps were on, but notice how you can't really tell?

This one was taken with the flash on, but with my hand in front of it.
I've experiemented with this technique before with a point and shoot camera and got better results.

This was also taken without the flash, with the same lamps as the first two shots.

These are the pictures I took this afternoon, about 1:30 pm. This is right by a west facing window, which gets lots of natural light all day. It's one of the things I love about our living room.

Makes a big difference doesn't it? The colour is just so much better.
Though, it is different. It's not actually 100% accurate.
The real colour is more brown and, at least on my computer, this looks pretty grey.

I'm pretty sure the reason the colour is a little washed out is because of all the light. I haven't played with my settings or anything to try to get a more accurate colour, but I prefer the natural light to the yellow-y colour I got in the photos last night.

A note about the pattern... this was a lot of work. It was interesting and I got a lot better at it as I went along, but it required a lot of my concentration. I'll give a reveal after it's complete and it is in its recipient's hands.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Amigurumi Food

This is another re-post from my personal blog, from last year.

I made some play food for the kids. It's really fast to make. Some have called them amigurumi, but it's not quite accurate because amigurumi are anthropomorphic and I didn't put any faces or other human-like features on the food. I might get around to putting up patterns for these, though I just worked them out as I made them, but I'll just share pictures for now.

The first thing I made was a cupcake. I was inspired and used the pattern from Nimoe's Blog, but I omitted the cherry on top, the face and added the chocolate sprinkles.

It is a slightly left-leaning cupcake... ha ha... liberal cupcake

Next, I made a carrot. After I made the carrot, I found other carrots on Etsy, but I was proud to say that mine came entirely from my experience with real live carrots, my own head and my children's love of carrots.

A friend asked me if it was a throw pillow for the couch.

Next came the corn and the tomato. The colour in the picture is a little bit off. The ends of the corn are cream coloured, not white, like they look in the picture. I'm pretty proud of the corn. It's my favorite, I think.

Mmmm... Taber corn. I didn't get any this year.

Last, the humble potato, in honour of 2008 (remember I made these last year), the International Year of the Potato.

Here's to you, potato.
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