Friday, May 26, 2017

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Baby Shower

This past weekend I hosted a baby shower for my sister-in-law. It was themed after Eric Carle's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  I was very thankful to have my other sister-in-law and friends of the Mom-to-be helping me with this.  We divided up duties, and I got to do all the decor!  Thanks to Pinterest, I found several cute ideas I was able to copy.

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We invited guests with these cute on-theme invitations.

I made this Hungry Caterpillar welcome banner using cardstock and my Silhouette Cameo to hang behind the chair where she would open gifts.  I even found a font similar to the one used in the book!  The red circles are 8" and the green circles are 6".

The paper lantern caterpillars are made using 10" red lanterns for the heads and 8" mismatched green lanterns for the bodies.  I found the most affordable lanterns at the Paper Lantern Store.  These sizes are fine for a smaller space, but I wish I had used larger ones for these large rooms.  I used command hooks (3 lb. strength) to attach the caterpillars the ceilings so I wouldn't have to poke holes with tacks.  The lanterns are strung onto fishing line.  I used cardstock and my Silhouette Cameo for the face pieces and feet!

I made the giant fruits by painting large swoops of paint onto posterboard (a glass of wine helped me be extra swoopy with my brush strokes, lol).  I used the paintbrush I normally use for painting trim and baseboards, and several colors of acrylic paint I had on hand.  After making all the swoops, I flipped the posterboard over and drew out the fruits, then cut them out.  I traced a roll of blue painters tape for the holes.  These were a great way to make large decor for a big room.

The diaper cake is made from about 60 Size 2 Earth's Best diapers (because they're plain white, the larger size helps make the cake larger, and I just really love this brand).  I used Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny for the book layer, and clipped them together with paperclips.  I managed to find Hungry Caterpillar ribbon to wrap them up, and topped them off with a few Eric Carle toys!  I tried accessorizing the cake with mini versions of baby toiletries, but it looked too busy.

We asked the guests to sign a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as well as address an envelope for the Mom-to-be to use for her thank you notes.  With 45 guests worth of thank you notes to write, she needs all the help she can get!

We also asked guests to bring a book to build the baby's library!  I think he's going to be quite literate!  The quilt is made from an Eric Carle 10 Little Rubber Ducks panel.

A family member made this amazing caterpillar cupcake display!

My other sister-in-law developed a delicious menu: yogurt bar, croissant bar (she MADE them at the house which made the house smell so yummy) with egg salad and chicken salad, pinwheel sandwiches, mini muffins, Duck Donuts, and a popcorn bar.  She complemented the spread with a cocktail we named Peach Sparklers, which were made from peach puree, orange juice, and champagne.

Friends of the Mom-to-be created a draw-your-own bingo board where guests first filled out items they thought might get opened, then marked off squares as the gifts were unwrapped.  They also broke up the gift portion of the shower with two games, one with nursery rhymes and one with children's books.

I really couldn't be happier with how the shower came together!  It was cute, had great food, and fun activities.  But most of all, it brought together this amazing community of women who are super excited to welcome this sweet baby into the world.

Hopefully some of these ideas come in handy if you're planning a Very Hungry Caterpillar Baby Shower or Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mommy and Me skirts for Mother's Day

Hello there!  I wanted to pop in with a quick post about the Mommy & Me skirts I just made for Mother's Day!  This is a great sewing project for someone with beginner-level skills or someone looking for an adorable end product without spending a ton of time!  It's all straight lines!

Mommy and Me gathered skirts |

I used this blog for the pattern, and it was so easy to follow!  The only change I made was to include more fabric in the hem, giving me the option to lengthen the skirt as my daughter grows.  My other suggestion is to only multiply the waist measurement by 1.25x - 1.5x for an adult skirt, as mine came out very full.  For my daughter I used the full 45" fabric width, which was a little more than 2x her waist.

The fabric is Paparounes in Crimson, and I bought it at Bobbie Lou's Fabric Factory.  I love her curated collection of quilting fabrics!!!  I just bought mermaid fabric (Mermaid Magic in Mist Metallic) to make another skirt like this for my daughter's birthday.

Photos are taken at the Capitol Riverfront in Washington, DC.  If you're local or visiting I highly suggest making some time to play and walk around this park.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Extend the life of children's clothing with iron-on patches

We are super fortunate to have a source of adorable and gently-used children's clothing.  Once her girls have outgrown items and toys, they get passed on to us!  Most look like they've been worn only a few times, some have stains (which I've gotten pretty good at removing), but there are a few pieces that were obviously very loved!

When items are stained beyond my capabilities, they join the "spaghetti shirt" stockpile.  Spaghetti shirts function as full-body bibs when we have meals or art projects that I know will stain good clothes.

But sometimes I can rescue a stained or worn item just by adding a little flair.  The floral pants below were in good shape and part of the regular rotation, but got stained while crawling on the ground at Luray Caverns (which is totally worth visiting!).  Around the same time, we were given a pair of pants that were looking worn at the knees.  I wanted to save them both!

I dug around in my fabric stash and found a red and pink striped knit.  I attached fusible web to the striped fabric first.  Then I traced heart shapes onto the paper and cut out the hearts.  I "dry fit" them over the stains/worn places, then ironed them on!  Easy peasy.

I thought my project was complete at this step, but my daughter ripped the hearts off after wearing the pants for less than an hour.  Soooo, I ironed on new patches, then sewed them down by hand with large stitches along the edge.  This took about 5 minutes per patch.

Now these pants have new life, and might even be cuter than the original!  Fancy companies put contrasting patches on their clothing and charge big bucks...I put these on hand-me-downs for free and in less than 30 minutes.  Score!  I did this to extend the life of these pants...but now I'm also thinking this would be a great way to knockoff the fancy children's brands!

The hearts were a cute shape for girls pants, but I think circles, squares, triangles, and hexagons would look great on clothing for both girls and boys. Do you have any clothing items that could be revived with a quick craft?

You might also be interested in these posts:

Baby Octopus Costume
Toddler Octopus Costume
Light-Up Trick-or-Treat Bag

Friday, October 7, 2016

Light-Up Trick-or-Treat Bag

Happy October!  I've had so much crafty energy lately, it's been really fun :)  My latest project is a light-up Halloween trick-or-treat bag!

Light-up Trick-or-Treat Bag ||

I saw the panel for this bag in my local quilt shop about six weeks ago, but I didn't buy it when I first saw it.  I kept thinking about it for weeks, so I finally went back, and bought the very last one!  It's a panel with instructions to make the bag, but there were a few other supplies I needed, like the fabric for the lining and the binding.  The panel also comes with some trick-or-treaters printed on it, which I think I'll save for future projects.  Maybe for Halloween bibs, or an applique on a kid dress?

Light-up Trick-or-Treat Bag ||

Before I cut into my panel, I traced the pattern onto paper for future use.  I feel like if we have additional children down the line, they're going to want a trick-or-treat bag just like their sister!

The example in the shop was quilted all over in a random walk.  I decided to quilt mine by outlining the house and trees. 

Light-up Trick-or-Treat Bag ||
Quilt Shop Trick-or-Treat Bag

The next step after quilting was to make button holes for the lights to poke through.  The ladies at the shop gave me the great advice to lay out the lights first and make sure they would reach from one hole to the next.  I also took into account they would need to go from one side of the bag to the other.  20 button holes later, and I had officially doubled the number of button holes I've ever sewn in my life.  Thankfully my machine has settings to make it easy!

Light-up Trick-or-Treat Bag ||

From there I just followed the directions, and it came together quickly!  I think I might be more excited about this than Savannah, but oh well :)  It's cute, but I also like that it adds some safety on Halloween!  Also, the light are easy to remove, so it can go through the washer if it gets grubby.

Light-up Trick-or-Treat Bag ||

If you want to make your own, look online for Northcott Fabric's Happy Halloween collection by Julie Dobson Miner.  The bat fabric I used for the lining and the stripe I used for the binding are both from the Here for the Boos line from Wilmington Prints.  All were available on Etsy at the time of the posting.  (By the way, "Here for the Boos" needs to go on a Halloween sign somewhere in my house...too funny!)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Octopus Costume for Toddlers

Following the release of Finding Dory, I got several requests from my Etsy customers for a toddler version of my infant octopus costume - kids wanted to be Hank the Octopus!  Because Savannah is 2 1/2 right now, I thought this would be a perfect time to come out with an updated pattern!

Octopus Costume for Toddlers ||

Octopus Costume for Toddlers ||

I made this costume as close to Hank's coloring as possible, using an orange knit with red dots and 1/2" red pom pom fringe.  I went with a smaller pom pom size for this costume, but I sort of wish I had used the larger size.  Etsy had a great selection of polka dot knits (I bought from Magic Fabric Designs) as well as pom pom fringe (from Creative Trims), and at reasonable prices!  I was much happier with the selection on Etsy than at JoAnn or

Octopus Costume for Toddlers ||

Octopus Costume for Toddlers ||

If you're interested in making an octopus costume for your toddler, the pattern is available in my Etsy shop.  I really want to try one in purple and black one day to look like Ursula from The Little Mermaid!

I also started a Pinterest board to collect up links to fun octopus fabrics.  If you have good ones, please share in the comments!

If you'd rather make the costume for an infant, that pattern is accessible here.  Look how much she's grown in just two years!!!

Octopus Costume for Infants ||

You might also be interested in these posts:

Baby Octopus Costume
What to Put on a Baby Registry

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Five Delicious Recipes That Use Coffee

Happy National Coffee Day!  In honor of this very special day, I'm sharing five delicious recipes that use coffee as an ingredient.  My father-in-law is a Peet's Coffee employee, and this week I helped him set up a display in one of his busiest stores to share these recipes.  Of course you can use other brands than Peet's, but we are definitely fans!

My family has been making Black Russian Cake since I was a kid, and my Mom even shipped one to me at college for my 21st birthday!  We are also huge fans of the Southwestern Steak and Peppers recipe, to the extent that I made an entire jar of the spice rub to keep on hand.


Black Russian Cake
12 servings, 35 minutes (From Janet Coggins)

For the cake:
1 box chocolate cake mix with pudding
4 large eggs
¾ cup strong brewed Peet’s French Roast coffee
½ c vegetable oil
¾ c combined Kahlua and Crème de Cacao
For the topping:
½ c sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 T strong brewed Peet’s French Roast coffee
1 T Kahlua
1 T Crème de Cacao

  • Combine all cake ingredients and beat for 4 minutes at medium speed.  Pour into a well-greased bundt pan or tube pan.
  • Bake at 350° for approximately 45 minutes.  Cool partially and remove from pan.  While still warm, punch holes in the top of the cake with a fork.
  • Mix the topping ingredients well.  Drizzle topping over cake slowly so it soaks in. 

Easy Tiramisu
6 servings, 1 hr. 15 minutes (From allrecipes by KALLISTA)

3 egg yolks
¼ c white sugar
2 t vanilla extract
1 and 1/8 cups mascarpone cheese
24 ladyfingers
1 ½ cups brewed Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend coffee
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder

  • In a medium bowl, beat yolks with sugar and vanilla until smooth and light yellow.
  • Fold mascarpone into yolk mixture and set aside.
  • Dip ladyfingers briefly in coffee and arrange 12 of them in the bottom of an 8”x8” pan.
  • Spread half the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers.
  • Repeat with the remaining cookies and mascarpone.
  • Cover and chill 1 hour.  Sprinkle with cocoa just before serving.

Thai Iced Coffee
1 serving, 5 minutes (From Chow Hound by ThePiedPiper)

1 cup strong brewed Peet’s Sumatra coffee
2 – 4 T sugar
¼ t vanilla extract or almond extract
½ t cardamom
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of coriander
Whole milk, heavy cream, or half and half

  • Add sugar, vanilla, and spices to the hot coffee.  Taste for sweetness and add sugar and spices if needed.
  • Pour coffee mixture into two or more sections of an ice cube tray and place in freezer.  Place the remainder of the spiced coffee in the refrigerator.
  • Once coffee has frozen and chilled, place the ice cubes in a tall glass and pour coffee over.  To create a layered effect, float a spoon on top of the coffee and pour milk into spoon until it overflows to the desired level.
  • Serve with a straw and enjoy!

Southwestern Steak and Peppers
4 servings, 35 minutes (From Eating Well Magazine)

½ t ground cumin
½ t ground coriander
½ t chili powder
¼ t salt
¾ t ground pepper
1 lb. boneless top sirloin steak
3 cloves garlic, peeled, 1 halved and 2 minced
3 t olive oil
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 t brown sugar
½ c brewed Peet’s Brazil Minas Naturais coffee
¼ c balsamic vinegar
4 cups watercress sprigs

  • Mix cumin, coriander, chili poweder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Rub steak with cut garlic, then rub spice mix all over the steak. 
  • Heat 2 t oil in a large heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium high heat.  Add the steak and cook to desired doneness, about 4-6 minutes for medium rare.  Transfer to a cutting board to rest.
  • Add remaining 1 t of oil to the skillet.  Add bell peppers and onion; cook, stirring often, for 1 minute.  Add coffee, and vinegar; cook for 3 minutes to intensify flavor.  Season with pepper. 
  • To serve, mound 1 cup watercress on each plate.  Top with sautéed peppers and onion, slice the steak thinly across the grain and arrange on the vegetables.  Pour the sauce from the pan over the steak. 

Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburgers with BBQ Sauce
8 servings (From epicurious by Fred Thompson)

Coffee Rub:
1 T freshly ground Peet’s House Blend coffee
2 t packed golden brown sugar
2 t freshly ground black pepper
½ t ground coriander
½ t dried oregano
½ t fine sea salt

8 sliced Applewood smoked bacon
1 lb. ground chuck beef
1 lb. ground sirloin
8 oz. smoked provolone
8 potato-bread hamburger buns

8 slices red onion
8 slices tomato
BBQ sauce

  • Mix all coffee rub ingredients in a small bowl (can be made up to 1 week in advance) 
  • Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.  Break in half. 
  • Gently mix chuck and sirloin in a large bowl.  Form meat into 8 patties, each 3 ½ - 4 inches in diameter and 1/3 – ½ inch thick.  Using thumb, make a slight indentation in center of each burger.
  • Preheat grill to medium-high. 
  • Sprinkle 1 t coffee rub on top side of each burger.  Place burgers, rub side down, on grill rack.  Grill until slightly charred, about 4 minutes.  Flip. 
  • Place 2 bacon slice halves atop each burger.  Cook 3 minutes. 
  • Top each with 1 cheese slice.  Cover and cook until cheese melts, about 1 minute. 
  • Place burgers atop bottom halves of buns.  Top with onion and tomato slices.  Spoon dollop of BBQ sauce over.  Cover with bun tops and serve.

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