The gingerbread sub-division

If you lived here, you’d be home by now.

.

Gingerbread houses.  They are not something to take lightly.  Holy cow, what an undertaking.  I remember decorating these with my Mom and siblings every year –  I don’t remember Mom staying up till 2am the night before cutting and baking all the pieces.  It’s possible that the reason I don’t remember this is that Mom is a lot better at time management than I am, but I choose to believe it’s because I was sleeping through the boring part just like my kids did.

Mom always used the recipes and instructions out of these books.  I have the complete set, (not sure I can describe the joy one feels when they find the entire library of craft books their mother used for all their childhood projects at the flea market for 10 bucks.  Sweet.) and went straight to them when I decided to do this.  One look at the gingerbread recipe (I have to use the candy thermometer? Really?) and I went to the net to find something easier.  What can I say?  I’m lazy.

My search led me here, which is just about the weirdest cookie recipe of all time.  It says right across the top “cook time: 2 hours”, and I guess it was my bad to assume they meant that’s how long it would take from start to finish.  If you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll find that they want you to cook this stuff at 275 for two hours.

The hell?

I’ve been making cookies for a long time.  Never have I heard such nonsense.  When the recipe had me start out making whipped cream, I should’ve known they were cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs right then and found a different one.  In the end, I cut a little cookie out of the dough and baked it at about 375 for 10 min and it worked out just fine.  Who comes up with these things?  And who doesn’t bother to read an entire recipe before she makes 9 cups of dough?  And who doesn’t just use the one her mother used for 30 years that she already knows comes out tasting good and is strong enough to hold up a house?  Anyway – onto the pictures.


By the time the kids woke up, this is what the gingerbread fairy had left in the kitchen – 3 bases, and 3 little stacks of house parts.  Violet immediatly went back to her room and switched her princess nightgown for these cookie jammies.  We’re all about dressing appropriately for an activity around here.

.


Mom and Dad do the actual construction, while our eager little helpers crowd around, bumping the cardboard every 4 seconds. (I think you can tell a lot about a person, based on whether they use 72 blocks to prop up every part of their house, or the just stand it up and frost it and hope for the best.  For the record, they all remained standing.  Even with Earthquake Jonas in the room.)

.


All put together and awaiting the delicate decorating hand of a four year old.

.

At this point we took a break to decorate something like 83 dozen cookies.  Details and 47,000 pictures of that party can be found on the other blog.  Doing this gave the houses a couple of hours to set up, and when we went back to decorate they were strong enough to survive the kids.


Hmm.  Maybe just *one* more orange slice over here….

.


The back of V’s house.  She completely surprised me with the happy face.  I love this kid.

.


These two are “true loves” and they are “laying in the grass, looking at the clouds together.”  Joe made the one on the left.  Love that nose.

.


The m&m’s here are a “giant snake that’s sneaking up on the true loves.”  It’s not all sunshine and roses with these houses.

.


Jonas’s house. He was very interested in getting as much candy and green sugar as possible on the lawn, not so much interested in anything else.  Roof design by Joe.  (Whoa – what happened to Violet’s back there?  Mice?)

.



And the house I made to give away.  Joe made that snowman for me out of my giant homemade marshmallows.  Lawn sprinkles by Jonas.  After we were done with the cookies, we dumped all the spilled sugar and chips and sprinkles that were under his rack into one bowl and called it the “party mix”.  Jonas seemed to think my house needed a bit more of a “party” vibe.

.


Last one – artsy extreme close up of the roof.  These gumdrops look so pretty, and taste so awful.  Spice drops – I smite thee, spice drops.  How on earth do you defend a red, sugared, gummy candy that tastes like black jelly-beans?  Bleck.

.

And that’s how we ended up with a gingerbread sub-division on our kitchen table.  Quick poll – does everyone out there agree that these things are to be eaten?  Because every single craft book or website I consulted during the great recipe hunt then had an icing recipe (we won’t even go into my panic attack when I read these.  Hopefully nobody will get salmonella.) and a section on “preserving your gingerbread house.”  The hell?  Preserving?  Like then you put it away and take it back out next year as part of your Christmas decoration.  Does this not seem like the absolute meanest form of kid-torture you’ve ever heard of?  I’d like to take a moment right here, to thank my Mother for never suggesting we “preserve” our houses.  For the love.

We’ve been eating these for breakfast.  Tis the season (to find your fat jeans.)

I hope everyone out there is behaving themselves.  Santa’s watching!🙂


Tis the (crafting) season!

The kiddos and I have been very busy, crafting our way through the month of December.  Some of the things we have made are gifts, so I can’t show them just yet (Hi Mom), but all the construction paper decorations?  Brace yourselves.

Here we have both the paper chain that Joe and the kids (well, mostly Joe) made, and also the Fruit Loop garland that Violet and I made (while Jonas ate them by the handful out of the bowl.  It was like a race to see who would win – would we get a decent length of garland?  Or would Jonas eat too many before we could string them.  And if Jonas really at that many Fruit Loops, who would be responsible for cleaning up the technicolor puke 30 min later?  Competivie crafting – gotta love the adreniline rush.)  I think this is the happiest, most fun tree on the planet.

.

What is the secret to photographing these things?  Should I have stood outside to take the picture?  I guess then the would look white instead of black. I did the top two of these, Violet did the other three.  We are the snowflake masters.

.


Killing me with cuteness.  I’ll never buy a card again.  She came up with the format for these all on her own – Christmas tree on the front, picture of her and the people she was sending the card to inside, “from Violet” and a bunch of hearts on the back.  Sooooo cute.  (This one is to Aunty Suz and Uncle Matt.  If you look you see Violet, then Suz, then me (not sure how I snuck in there), then Matt.  Matt is obviously the one that works outside – look at that tan!  I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that the other three all got some kind of skin color added, but I stayed the color of the paper. Hmph.)

.

When we ran out of glue sticks,  it was time to try something new.  Enter the shrinky dinks –


Please excuse the cookie crumbs on her face.  We’ve also been doing a lot of baking.

.

I found this lone set on the shelves of the NEX and snatched it up.  We started by making these charms, and then I added them to this necklace, along with some tiny bells.  She. Loves. It.  She has been wearing it every day, and is so besotted with the concept of making her own jewelry (which is pretty exciting for me, as I got her a big charm maker thing for Christmas.  Watch this space for tons of very chic jewels. )

After we had exhausted the plastic accessories options, Jonas and I made this ornament –


Can you see his hat here?  The top section is  a black hat.  I don’t know why I have the need to point that out, but there it is.

.

– which I looooooove.  It came out exactly like I pictured it, and it was a fun and simple project that the toddler could do with me.  I drew the circles, he colored the heck out of them with a white pencil, and then he directed me while I drew on the coal, carrot, and scarf.  We cut them out together, he punched the holes for the jump-rings, then we watched the magic that is a shrinky dink in the toaster oven.  Now when people walk in the door he’s showing them “LOOK at DAT!  Do you see dat ornament? I MADE DAT!”

We’ve  also discovered that shrinky dinks can make some pretty awesome gifts for loved ones…  but that’ll have to be a January retrospective post.😉

.

And finally, when construction paper and glue sticks and incredible cookie creations (seriously – check out my mom blog for pics of the most elaborately decorated Christmas cookies of all time.  It was a tough call on whether they should go over there or over here.  Works. Of. Art.) and science experiments with plastic and heat are just not enough, it’s time to pull out the big guns – poster paints and sponge stamps.  Oh, yes – we made our own wrapping paper.🙂

Making it was fun, but photographing it was a freaking hoot –


This roll of brown paper was significantly cheaper than fancy wrapping paper, the process was fun, and I think the end result rocks.  I would love to get a present wrapped in this.  My holiday shopping list is getting smaller and smaller – no more cards, no more wrapping paper… what else can I force the kids to make for me so I can save a buck?

.

Oh Mommy!  What are you doing?  Are you taking pictures of our paper?  We want to be in the pictures, too!

Uh, ok – but how are you going to get in a picture of paper?  Do you want to hold it, or…. oh.  Interesting.


.

Laying on the paper.  Not the direction I thought we were going to go. Ok, we can do this, but can you maybe  get your fingers out of your mouth, Boo?  And V – what’s with the evil Grinchy-Claus smile?  If we’re gonna do this, let’s do it right.  Big smiles, everyone!


.

Huh.  No.  Really, guys, can you just look up at me and smile?  No binocular eyes?  No big heart with the hands?  Just, you know, smiling for the camera?  So I can get a nice picture?  Of you and your paper?  Please?  Yes?  Ok – here we go…


Another thing going on here – Jonas refused to put on a shirt because he wanted his “nickels” to be in the picture.  He’s very proud of those nickels, and he’d like the internet at large to be able to appreciate them as we do.  So, internet, enjoy the nickels.  Merry Christmas.

.

GUYS!  You know, Santa’s watching!  Oh, nevermind.  Let’s wrap the presents.


Yes, Jonas can spell and write his name now.  My baby.  Sniff.  (I love how when he ran out of room, he just put the S right on top of the N and A.  He’s two (for another 9 days), cut him some slack.)

.

Fabulous!  Next we will have to work on replacing all these shiny bows with something made out of paper.  Ooh!  Or yarn! Hmmm….

Hope you all are having a fab holiday season, and that you’re not being exposed to Shrek the Halls nearly as much as I am.  Merry merry.

-J


For Julie, Sheri,

… and anyone else nervous about cutting up that sundress to make a skirt.

If I can cut up this fancy flower girl dress –

Awwwwww.

.

to make this fabulous princess dress up skirt –


Please note she’s still wearing the gloves. They didn’t make it to the wedding, but when dressing up, they are always worn with this dress skirt.

.

then you can certainly take scissors to an outgrown sundress, or thrift store find.  Just do it.  It’s not scary, it’s fun.  I promise.🙂

Along with the peer pressure, I need to send big thanks to Julie for the FOE.  It made this even a quicker, easier project than usual.  Also, it looks super cute –



As always, it’s important that the waistband isn’t actually ON her belly.  “NOT ON MY BELLY!!!”  I see a lot of low-rise jeans in her future.

.

And considering I basically did this exact thing for half of her Halloween costume, I’ll just throw that in here too.  I took her practice dress, cut off the top, added elastic (blahblahblah etc etc.)  Then I used the satin from this dress and made another of these tops with it.  Add ribbon, tulle, yet another felt crown, and you have a princess costume!

.



Introducing the Fairest of Them All…   Princess Violet!

.

This time the peasant blouse really did take me less than an hour, the dress to skirt took maybe 20 minutes.  I can make those crowns in my sleep at this point.  The most time-intensive part was the ribbons on the shirt, but all together I think I spent less than two hours on this, and only used stuff I already had in the house.  She told me it was the “BEST, MOST BEAUTIFUL, MOST PRINCESSY OUTFIT EVER!”  She wore it the day before Halloween to trick-or-treat (don’t ask.)  She wore it to school on Halloween to show it to all her friends.  She wore it Halloween night to the bowling alley.  She wore it the day after Halloween so I could take pictures.  She wore it yesterday just for kicks.

I am SuperMom, hear me roar!🙂


What’s so maybe?

I know you all are eager to see the 62 tshirt bags I’ve made, but first a quick post to prove that I do make stuff out of other materials.  It’s not all tshirts all the time over here –

.

Sometimes, it’s awesome Ikea fabric that I bought for no reason other than I couldn’t leave the store without it, and a thrift store baby blanket that (again) I bought for zero reason whatsoever.  Seriously – I think I bought this blankie after Jonas was already two.  That would make Violet four.  I bought a girl-colored fleece baby blanket when my girl baby was a four year old.  it’s possible I have a bit of a hording problem.

.

My sister in law had a new baby girl this summer.  When she had her first, Joe handled the new baby gifts.  I remember him shopping and boxing up a bunch of baby boy clothes.  This time, she had the baby while he was in Iraq.  I didn’t even know, because the emails only went to his account.

Weeks later, when he got home, he said something along the lines of “Oh, my sister had the baby.  Can you, like, knit something or something for her?”

Honestly – it’s amazing the man has lasted as long as he has.

.

All folded up and ready for wrapping.

.

I thought about it and cursed at Joe and checked out baby clothes online and finally went and stared at my fabric stash for a while and thought “Hmmm.  That Ikea fabric would match that baby blanket that nobody has ever used…. ” and a “quilt” was born.

.

Maybe Katy.

.

I’m putting “quilt” in quotes in the same dismissive way McCain says “health” because it’s a pretty lousy quilt.  It’s barely quilted.  Where it is quilted, it’s puckered and amateurish (because God Forbid I read a freaking tute or check out a library book or take a class or something before I do this.  Winging it has always served me sooooooooo well in the past, after all.)  I didn’t piece together the top – the blanket was a patchwork fleece blanket.  I basically cut a piece of fabric to fit, cut letters out of the extra, appliqued them on, then attached the two together (and not all that neatly.)

Love love love the back of this thing.  That fabric is sooo happy.

.

I unpicked the hem all around the edge of the blanket, cut my fabric the same size as the hemmed version, then rolled the fleece back over the raw edges of the floral to “bind” it.  (Did that make sense?  Here – maybe this will help – )

.

.

What did I tell you?  The back is definitely the best part.

.

This blanket was definitely a learning experience.  It has it’s flaws, (boy, does it ever) but it was made with love for a sweet new niece, it’s soft, it’s happy, it’s more than big enough for learning to roll over and chew on toys and find your feet –

.

Shown with 35lb terrorist for scale.

.

– it’s machine washable, it’s girly without being too precious…  I think it works.  It’s certainly good enough to puke on, which is what I remember my kids doing on their blankets at this age.  Well, that and…  eh, let’s just skip the poop talk for once, shall we?

Welcome to the world, Katy girl.  Hope you like your blankie.🙂

Fun with Tshirts, part 2

When I last left you, I was busy appliqueing any little boy shirt that got close enough to my sewing machine. I knew there was a reason I still had all those little baby washcloths!  Terry-cloth bowling pins are fantastically soft, AND absorbent! Score!

Well, of course I cannot be permitted to sew for the boy without bestowing twice as much crafty goodness on the girl.  Forget the fact that she asks me to make her things then never wears them (as opposed to Mr. “Is my bowling shirt clean?” Jonas.) Forget how he loves to “help” me sew and is really into the whole process while she really wants me to just magically make things appear without having to take any time away from playing with her and/or cleaning up after her.  Forget it.  Just make me something, woman!

Her wish is my command.  A few more reconned tshirts for your viewing pleasure –

.

This summer she REFUSED to wear anything with sleeves.  Even if it was the Fourth and her only patriotic shirt happened to be a T instead of a tank.  What’s a Mommy to do?

.

Well – this Mommy didn’t feel like sewing.  So she got out the scissors and cut away everything but the front and a couple of long straps.  It was cute, it was comfy in the heat, it didn’t work so well in the car because the knots bothered her back.  I’ll have to rethink their placement if I ever do something like this again.

.

Along with refusing to wear anything but tank tops, the Twink generally refuses to wear anything but skirts.  Imagine my surprise when she picked out a tank and shorts outfit at the store as her “first day of school” outfit.  Imagine my complete lack of surprise when we got home, she held up the top, and asked “which of my skirts do you think this will match?”  Argh.

The answer was – none.  She had no skirts that her new top even remotely matched.  I, however, had two mens XL navy tshirts.  Hmmmm.

.

For those of you who follow my other blog – yeah, she totally didn’t end up wearing this on the first day.  To review – she asked me to buy the outfit.  She then rejected the shorts and conned me into making this skirt.  After all that, she chose to wear an old, slightly stained sundress for her first day of kindergarten.  It’s a miracle she’s survived this long.

.

This skirt was really quick and easy.  I just cut the bottoms off of the two shirts for the two tiers.  Of course, then I decided that I liked the raw, unfinished edge – so I cut up the hems.  Way to plan ahead.  She’s pretty happy with it, though, considering it’s navy blue.  Blegh.  Princesses very rarely wear navy, or black, or brown.  Those are generally “bad guy colors”.  If I sound like an expert on this, it’s due to the fact that I’ve sat through many a lecture on the subject.  I can tell you that gray is also unacceptable… unless it’s “sparkly, or shiny.  That means it’s actually SILVER, not gray, and that is the color of TIARAS, which makes it VERY princessy.”

While I was cutting up shirts, I opened this one up and stretched it out flat –

.

Nice toes.

.

– and had a crazy idea.  I thought to myself  “Hmmmm.  That there is a stretchy circle.  A stretchy, finished circle about the size of the Twink’s waist.  A stretchy, finished circle about the size of the Twink’s waist with a bunch of extra fabric around it.  Hmmmmm.”

So I cut out a circle around the neck hole and  – voila! – with no sewing at all not one tiny bit just cutting no sewing did I say no sewing? because this was seriously a 3 minute project I came up with this –

.

Twirliness helps offset the un-princessy color.

.

Super-twirly super-quick super-simple circle skirt.  It sees absolutely no wear thanks to it’s plainness and color, but I feel like if I could be bothered to applique some hearts or flowers or maybe add a ruffle or something it would get worn.  And if I ever find a mens XL shirt in pink I know exactly what to do with it now.

So.  Tshirts.  What do you do with ’em?

Fun with Tshirts, part 1

Lately, I cannot stop making shopping bags out of tshirts.  Seriously.  Can. Not. Stop.

A couple of years ago, when I read this post on MDK (It’s the last one at the bottom – you’ll know it when you see it.) I thought “Wow.  Now that is obsessed.  I don’t think I could ever make that many of anything without wanting to eat my own yarn.”

Then I discovered the joy that is sewing up the bottom of a tshirt and calling it a bag.  We have way more cloth shopping bags than one house could possibly  need.  Maybe I’ll take some photos and do a freaky “welcome to my crazy” post like Kay.

But today?  We have some (slightly) more creative tshirt projects to discuss.  First on the list is everyone’s favorite – the ripped off from some wonderfully creative person on Etsy monster shirt!

.

Grrrr.  Argh.

.

I saw these shirts a couple of years ago and thought HOW CUTE!  HOW FUN!  HOW EASY TO DUPLICATE! (Sorry, creative Etsy vendor.)  I’m assuaging my guilt by not selling, or even giving any away as gifts.  Surely there’s nothing wrong in seeing a cute idea and using it to make your own child a shirt?  Right? Yes?  Moving on.

I actually made this applique for baby Jonas (I’m going to say right around 1 year), but liked it so much that when he outgrew the shirt I cut it out and saved it to reuse on a bigger one.  I think it’s just as cute the second time around.

Jonas likes his monster shirt, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not like monsters are what he’s obsessed with.  He’s not living, breathing, eating, sleeping monsters.  I make Violet tutus and princess outfits and magic wands, what could I make for Jonas that would inspire the same amount of giddy joy?  Of out and out excitement?  What could I make that he would want to wear every single day, while telling me what a great Mom I am?  Oooh!  I’ve got it!

.

Yes, really.  Also – I need to point out that he did the styling for this photo himself.  When I asked if I could take a picture of him in his bowling shirt, he yelled “WAIT!  I just need to get a bowling pin!”

.

Sorry, ladies.  I’ve got the Mom of the Year award in the bag thanks to that shirt.  Better luck next year.

Get ’em while they’re young

That way, they don’t have time to decide that whatever it is you’re doing isn’t “cool”.  You’re the Mom! EVERYTHING you are doing is cool!  Neat-o!  Something they want to do RIGHT NOW THIS SECOND!  Take advantage of that enthusiasm.  What they lack in fine-motor skills, they more than make up for in a desire to learn.  Observe –

.

Why, yes!  That is the Twink with pink yarn and ginormous needles!

.

I looooooove the little tongue-out I’M CONCENTRATING! look on her face here.  It was a little tricky, teaching her to knit in an entirely different way than I do, but I figure if armpit knitting is good enough for Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, than it’s good enough for my girl.😉

.

Of course, now I’ve got her brother following me around, “helping” me with my yarn (ie: creating the biggest knot known to man.)  Sorry, kiddo, it’s still fingerpaints and sidewalk chalk for you.  We’ll work on the crafts that involve math after you master POOPING IN THE POTTY! (Sorry, my Mom blog seems to have spilled over a bit into the craft side.  Tomorrow I’ll try to post about the 398479384738 sewing projects I’ve been doing, *without* using the word “Poop”. Promise.)