August 30, 2013

Teddy Bear Felt "Paper Doll" with case

This is another one of those crafts inspired by something I saw at my parent's house that my sisters and I played with when we were kids!
Since I have three girls I love it because it is the perfect sort of toy that gets lots of use, can't really be ruined by the baby, and is fun for all ages!  It's also awesome because they toy itself is its own carrying case!

These would make great gifts, or stocking stuffers (not that I'm thinking about that ;)  even though yes, I DID see Christmas things out at Costco today!) or, this would be a great project for a beginning sewer/young crafter.  My 6 year old cut out all of the felt clothes for this doll, and had a blast doing it!

Ready to make your own?

August 22, 2013

Creamy Tomato Soup {Recipe}

So, I still have a bunch of tomatoes, and I wanted to share another amazing tomato recipe with you!  If you have some from your garden that you need to use, this will not disappoint.
Also, if you can find seconds at the farmers market or farm stores, these recipes with roasted tomatoes are perfect for those imperfect fruits :)

The other day, I shared my recipe for Healthy Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce, and used the same method of roasting tomatoes for that recipe also.
This is another recipe that uses the same tomatoes as the base to make a creamy and delicious soup!

5-8 Large Tomatoes (imperfect or seconds are fine) 
Drizzle of Olive Oil
Sprinkle of Salt and Sugar
2 Tbls. Butter
1 Medium Onion, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2-4 Cups Chicken Stock/Broth
1/2 tsp. Thyme
Milk or Cream

First, you will take your fresh tomatoes and roast them in the oven.  To do this: cut them into very thick slices, place them on a baking pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and sugar.  Roast at 400 degrees for 1 hour, or 350 for an hour and a half, or 300 for 2 hours, or 250 for a few hours :)  Just roast them for a while - they will get all wrinkly, and caramelized in some places, and juicy looking. They are delicious!!!

When your tomatoes are about ready, dice your onion, and put it into a pot with the 2 tbls. of butter.  Cook on medium heat.  After a couple minutes, add your thyme (dried or fresh -- I used dried), and minced garlic.  Continue to cook until the onions are getting caramelized on the edges...

Now add your roasted tomatoes - with all the juices, and everything you can scrape off the pan!  Also, add your chicken stock.  If you used fewer tomatoes, you probably only need a couple cups of stock/broth.  If you used more, go ahead and add all 4 cups.  Also add salt and pepper to taste.  

Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes (or more if you want your soup thicker), stirring every few minutes.  As it thickens, take an immersion blender and blend until your soup is smooth.  If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender, and pour your soup in it.  Just be careful with the hot liquid!!

With the soup in the pot, add some milk or cream.  1/2 cup to 1 cup, depending on how milky and creamy you like it.  Don't let it boil after this, but you can leave it on the stove on low to heat through.  

Now scoop yourself a big bowl, make some grilled cheese sandwiches to go with it, and you've got a little piece of heaven!  It makes me so happy when even my 6 year old is requesting this meal ;)

I hope you have a chance to make something delicious with these summer goodies that are so abundant.  I am so thankful to cook with such fresh and yummy ingredients!
Happy Cooking!

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August 19, 2013

My Mom's House (she's another very crafty lady)

There's no question that I get my craftiness from my parents.  My mom is an all around crafter, builder like me - and my dad is pretty much superman when it comes to figuring things out and building on his own.  He recently did an entire 3 floor addition to their house all by himself!

When I went to visit recently, it had been a while since I'd been to their house, and I took a few pictures of some crafty things that I wanted to share.  

This canvas wall is right at the top of the stairs, and an amazing focal point.  It is a work in progress, as mom continues to add new canvases - and we love to look at it.  There are pictures of my sisters and I as children, of our own children, and of my parents as they were young, and newly married.  The colors are vibrant, the memories abound, and it really looks great on this long wall.

She uses the same company to make all her canvases, and has gotten many of them on sale.  I know there are tutorials in blogland for making your own canvases, or faux canvases, which would be another way to achieve the same look for a little less.  

One room in the new addition part of the house is a great big game and media room.  Our family LOVES movies, and LOVES playing games together - so this space gets a lot of use!

Below, you can see one section of the wall that my mom designed with Disney paraphernalia.  
The cells are from Disneyland and Disneyworld, and she had the mats custom made with spaces for matching pin sets.  We were really into pin trading last time we went, and got some great pin sets that mom wanted to show off.  It makes a great theme for this corner of the media room.  

Here is a close up of the clock she made, which has Mickey pin sets in place of all the numbers.  I love it!

Another section of the media room highlights our love of quoting movies.  My sister and I devised the plan for this craft (which she executed ;) ).  She took these giant canvases, painted them black, and wrote dozens and dozens of our favorite movie quotes on them.

We started my making a list of quotes - which was serious business. ;)  We thought about this for days and days, and she even read off the titles of the hundreds of movies my parents own so that we could try to remember all the best quotes.  She researched them on the internet too, so that we could get them exactly right (turns out we quote a bunch of movies wrong :) ha).

We figured out how far apart each line should be, based on the number of words...We made a mock up in a word document so that the spacing was just right all the way through...My sister drew pencil lines all the way across to keep her writing straight, and then wrote all the quotes by hand!  And let me tell you, the meticulous planning paid off.  They look awesome!

Here they are on the wall next to the game table. This is the same area we later hung the Chalk Sayings on Platters that I did a tutorial for the other day.

Another couple of cute things.  In the kitchen, my mom has a magnetic board, and I fell in love with this Colman's Mustard tin.  She glued magnets on the inside so that she could stick it to the board and hold pens in it. Isn't it adorable?!

At one of my many trips to Brimfield for the Antique show, I saw something that looked a lot like this cool piece below.  We have collected old keys from our favorite antique shop, and my genius mom took an old pizza peel and made it into an awesome wood plaque for the keys!  She cut off the handle, stained the wood, and added vinyl letters to make it look like an old hotel key holder.  It is so adorable in the house (which consequently, feels and awful lot like an inn sometimes...)  :)

Isn't my mom amazing??  There are a couple other projects we worked on that I will tell you more about later.  We were busy ladies!  I had a great time visiting home with my family over the summer - and it is always fun to share our creativity and help each other with projects.  
Such a wonderful way to be inspired!

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August 14, 2013

Healthy Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce {Recipe}

We have had a delicious crop of tomatoes this year!  We have only a small garden, and had wanted to grow the ingredients we needed to make salsa.  Alas, the jalapeno peppers turned out to be regular old green peppers :)  Still, everything has gotten good use!  
I have made a few amazing things with my fresh tomatoes which I will be sharing with you, the first of which is this drool worthy spaghetti sauce...

I have been making this for a couple of years now, and it is my husband's favorite food.  He licks his bowl when I make this sauce, and says he could eat it every day for the rest of his life and be happy :)  Most of the time I make it with canned tomatoes, but when I have fresh I utilize those.  It does take a while to make, but most of the time commitment is watching it while it simmers, and believe me -- it is DEFINITELY worth the wait!!

Now a disclaimer before I start: this recipe (as is the case with many of my recipes) does not use exact measurements.  I add to, take away from, mix, match, and generally make things my own.  But never fear, this recipe is very adaptable!  If you don't have something, there is almost always a substitute!!  I'll make sure to point out what I think are the essentials.  

Ingredients (to make a big batch.  
Shrink it down if you want less.  
But you can freeze the leftover for later use!)

August 9, 2013

{12} Creative things to Sew with Beach Towels

After I made my Towel Vest Swim Cover up - I got to wondering what other great things I could make with beach towels - and there are great tutorials out there!  
And don't despair...there's plenty of summer left to whip up one of these fabulous Beach Towel Projects...

Princess Beach Coverup @ A Girl and A Glue Gun

Towel Beach Blanket @ My Material Life

Hooded Beach Towel Backpack @ The Train to Crazy

Beach Towel Robe @ Made

Drawstring Towel Bag @ Elle Belle Creative
(I think this would be perfect for storing wet swimsuits after the pool...)

Beach Towel Dress @ Made

Reserved Beach Towel @ Holy Craft

Towel Poncho @ Just Crafty Enough

Towel Tote @ Alisa Burke

Beach Towel Backpack @ Craftaholics Anonymous

I know what your thinking now: Your going to go whip up something useful with your favorite beach towel, and then get outside and hit the waves!  Me too!
Isn't summer heaven?!

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August 8, 2013

The Towel Vest {Tutorial}

I don't know about you, but we are squeezing every ounce of summer out of this month because I refuse to admit that the end is near.  We are going to the splash pad, swimming pool, beach - you name it - as often as we can before the school year sets in and it's back to the old routine.  (boo hoo).  Consequently, we are using our swimming suits and beach towels to the max!

And you know what makes my life easier?  The Towel Vest.  If you can believe it, the one that my younger daughter is wearing, on the right, was made for me by my grandma when I was a little kid!!
When I found it a couple of weeks ago I was so happy.  It even has my initials on the front!
And once we started using it, I knew I wanted to make more.  These things are so convenient!!

I mean, I can't be the only one who is watching their child's towel drag on the ground at the pool, am I right??

So take one of those hammered towels, and make your child an awesome towel vest!  Keeps the hands free, doesn't fall off, doesn't drag on the ground.  Seriously - YOU NEED ONE!!!  And they are easy to make!  Here's how:

August 7, 2013

DIY Chalk Sayings on Platters {tutorial}

Chalkboard paint is fun to put on just about everything!  I have put it on old windows, cabinet doors, wood blocks for my kids...  it is versatile stuff ;)

My mom had the fun idea to paint these metal platters - and then asked me if I would write movie quotes on them to hang in her media room.  They turned out awesome!  Here is a quick tutorial on how I did it:

We used chalkboard paint that you brush on - and painted a few coats.

I went on to my Silhouette software to design the lettering (you can see a screen shot below) - but you could definitely do this in a Word document.  Make an outer shape that matches the size of your platter - mine were circles and ovals, and I measured them and made a shape that exact size.  Then I knew exactly what room I had available to work with.

Above, you can see it printed out (on the left) and then cut out (on the right).  The larger sayings took two pieces of paper that I taped together.  These are your templates for tracing and getting precise, pretty lettering wherever you want it (I used this same method when I made a Christmas theme chalk board here).

Above you can see the process for tracing.
1) Rub regular chalk all over the back of the paper.
2) Place your paper exactly where you want it, hold it down firmly with one hand and trace over every line with a pen, pencil or stylus.  Try not to let your hand rub on the paper too much.
3) Carefully lift up your paper to see the chalk guide lines you have made.

My very precise lines came from using a Bistro Chalk Marker like you see above.  It is like a paint pen -- you smoosh the tip down and let the liquid chalk saturate the tip.  Then you write with it and must let it dry.  It allows for detailed work - but cleaning up mistakes can be tricky.  Certainly once it dries it is hard to get the residue completely off.  It is great for more permanent/long term chalk projects though.

It was fun to design these sayings in "chalky" fonts, and they look pretty funky on the media room wall.  Goes great with my mom's style!

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