Friday, October 29, 2010

Tis the season...

to start thinking about hats, gloves and scarves!  Nuts.  I am not a winter fan.  My husband is.  I much prefer spring and fall.  Yesterday it was 40 degrees and I was not pleased.   This weekend I'm going to have to go in the attic and pull out the box I dread... "winter gear".  Soon my house will be strewn with mittens, scarves, hats, boots galore.   I do love sitting in the house on a winters day with hot chocolate and seeing the white puffs of snow fall gently onto the ground.  I like sledding, too.  Ok, so maybe I do like winter a little, just not the frigid cold.
Yesterday, I made a friend 3 sets of hats and scarves for her girls.  It was fun.  I made each set different.  I also made a yoda hat for my son since I had to go and get fleece anyway.  I made it too small for my six year old, so my two year old is wearing it.   Apparently, my six year old didn't think the ears were big enough, so I guess I'm glad it didn't fit him.  If I make them any bigger, it will look like a green eeyore hat! Soon, I'll have two little yoda heads running around here.  I can't wait to see them out in the snow with their big green floppy ears!
Cutest yoda ever..


Here are some pics of the fleece products.  My model is fab...









 My friend also asked me to make her a makeup case and something to hold envelopes in her purse.  I wanted to keep them after making them.  A few times, I've had friends send me links to stuff they'd like me to make.  Until recently, I didn't know that most sites as that you make for PERSONAL use only.  The makeup case I had to revamp to make my own design.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fabulous Furniture Refresh

Do you ever get bored with your current home style? I had a brown and spa blue theme in my living room for quite a while and just recently decided it was time for a change. So, I've been doing a few things to change my living room up a little. Beautiful new curtains (thanks Mom!), rearranged furniture (thanks Mom!) and some turquoise paint and antiquing on my coffee and end tables. Of course, I forgot to take a before picture of the room so that I could show you an after picture when it was finished. But once these tables are finished and back in the room, I'll try to get some pictures and see if I can show you a little bit of the finished room. 

But today I wanted to show you how I did an faux antique finish on my tables. It was fairly easy and so much fun! Of course, I didn't take a real before picture (AGAIN!) so if you look past the super cute baby in this picture, you'll see kind of what the table looked like before I started the antiquing. (And you can catch a sneak peak of my new fabric with my pillow on the floor. Yes, my pillows are usually on the floor, why do you ask?) This table was my mom's at one point and I think she had painted it red. I primed it and painted it turquoise to get the base color I wanted. The color I used is called Montego Bay but I'm not sure what brand it was originally. I just picked a color off the shelf and then had the guys at Menards color match it using whatever their cheapest paint was. I would recommend going with something a little stronger than what you think you want for color because the antiquing does change the color and make it a little less vibrant. 




Aw...look how cute! She's got pigtails! And baby leg warmers! 




Anyways, back to the table. You're going to need gel stain and mineral spirits, a paintbrush and a lint free cloth (aka: an old t-shirt) to wipe the excess stain from the table. There was actually a lady working at Menards who said she used to have a refinished furniture shop and she told me how to do this. She said these were the best products for the job. The gel is Minwax brand and the color is Aged Oak 602. I'm sure you could use any kind of mineral spirits but that particular brand is Sunnyside. 



I used two small containers, one for the stain and one for the mineral spirits. That seems kind of obvious but I just thought I'd over explain. You're welcome. Then you kind of just make it up as you go. I dipped my brush in a little mineral spirits and then a little of the stain until it seemed fairly thin on the brush. Painted it on the table and then used my cloth to wipe some off until it was the look I was going for. If you're going to do this project yourself, make sure you do it in small sections. I just found it was easier to get the look I was going for if I didn't try to do too much at once. The best part is, you really can't mess it up. If you don't like what it looks like, you can just put more mineral spirits on it and wipe it off. 




 The stain will settle into the cracks and crevices of the table and make the details really stand out. 


Now I'm just waiting a few days for it to really dry and then I'll put a coat of polyurethane on it. Hopefully that will protect it from all the cars and trucks that love to race across this table. It's the perfect racing table. 


You may not be able to tell from the picture but it looks really great in person. I'm really happy with how both tables turned out! If you have a piece of furniture that could just use a little updating, I'd totally recommend doing this. It is really easy and adds a lot of character to painted furniture. Let me know if you have any questions and go have fun painting! 


Gina

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Big Event

It finally happened.  We hosted our very own open house!  We've made things for boutiques, custom orders, etc. but we had never had an event where family and friends could come and peruse our wares and see what we've been up to.
It was so much fun.  A TON of work, but very fun.  Seeing people leaving with items that you've put a lot of time and thought into is bittersweet.  One friend bought a tote that I really love, and I nearly had to have a going away party for it.
Here are some pics from our big night.
Us with all of our goodies
A-dorable diaper/wipes cases

Flowers galore!

Rose earrings

Rings...

Little girl aprons with pin/barrette

Girly totes

So cute...

First time we offered headbands.  They were a hit!

Clippies

Handy Snap Pocket

Wristlets
I don't even know what else to write.  Kind of exhausted and ready for a nap!
We are so thankful for all of the family, friends and supporters that came out and those long distance friends who have made purchases.  We're excited about our products and look forward to our November and December shows!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Character Cakes. Make em'. Love em'. Eat em'.


Do you remember being a kid?  Do you remember what your absolute favorite day of the year was?  I would guess that if you're like most of the populous, that day would have been your birthday.  It's funny how things change when you get older.  My birthday was Friday and I definitely wasn't counting down the days.  I didn't wake up with those butterflies of excitement in my stomach.  I woke up with an achy neck and baggy eyes.
My son's birthday is Tuesday.  We had a family party for him yesterday.  One of the things I love to do for my kids birthdays is to make them a cake of their choice.   They start thinking about what kind of a cake they want weeks in advance.  These cakes are by no means perfect.  I do the best I can do.  Don't we all? (keep that in mind when you see the pics of my cakes ;)) 
This year, my son chose Yoda.  I was going to make just Yoda's head.  I thought it would be easy.  Then I thought I could draw him out and fill in his clothing with the right colors, etc.  The day before cake making would commence, he changed his mind.  He now wanted a Storm Trooper.  I was so relieved.  Storm Troopers are black and white.  That meant I didn't have to do any colored frosting.  I went to the store and picked up a tube of black cookie decorator frosting.  I don't know that they're around year round or just this time of year since it's halloween season.
I printed out a picture of a storm troopers face.  I then taped a piece of wax paper to it.  I traced the storm trooper through the wax paper with the black frosting.

I then printed out "happy birthday Ethan" with a free star wars font that I found online.  I traced that.  It was painstaking.  I used a toothpick to spread the frosting to the edges.  I then stuck them in the freezer.

 Meanwhile, I baked two 9x13 chocolate cakes (recipe at the end of the blog).

After they cooled, I flipped them over onto a tray (I bought the one pictured at IKEA for a buck or two).
One of the cakes was a little less done than the other so it kind of flew out onto the tray.  It was so moist, I couldn't really move it over, so the cake hung over the edge ever so slightly.

I made this frosting for the cake (recipe at the end).  Delish.  Frosted the cakes then put it in the fridge.  Throughout the day, I checked on my storm trooper and letters to see if they were frozen.  I would touch them with my finger and they weren't freezing.  Hmph.  No good.  They were in the fridge for 9 hours and never froze.  GREAT.  All of that work for????
Then I had an idea.  I flipped the storm trooper onto the cake and pressed lightly.  I then peeled it off.  It left a black imprint on the cake and I was able to trace that with the frosting again.

Here you can see some of the black imprint left behind...
The letters?  Well, they were a lost cause.  If I were to do it again I would have printed the letters out backwards and traced, then flipped and traced onto the cake.  Or not.   The new lettering was kind of blobby, but really, a six year old boy doesn't care about that.

Here are some tips for you if you were to do something similar:
1.  Print out a pick from an online coloring book.  Simply type the character name into google images with "coloring" after it, and you'll get a bunch of great options.
2.  If you're making two cakes, make them separately in two batches.  I doubled the recipe and then guessed when pouring them into the pans.  It made one just a tad bigger than the other.
3.  Lettering... probably easier just doing it free hand!
4.  If you use buttercream frosting to trace your pic, it will freeze.  Then you could peel it off and place it on top of your cake.



Chocolate cake makes a nice goatee.


 Here are some cakes of birthdays past.  Last year, Ethan chose Spider Man.  I printed a pic of Spideys face and free handed it.

 Two years in a row, Ella has chosen the princess castle cake.  Here is a link to the super easy tutorial.  They even have a video!  Pink Castle Cake Tutorial

This year, I used  the same tutorial, but my sister in law gave me the plastic pieces from her daughters bday cake.  I should say, I rescued them from her trash ;)

If you have any cake making/decorating tips, I'd love to read them.  Please leave us a comment!
RECIPES:

One Bowl Chocolate Cake III

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two nine inch round pans.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
If you use a 9x13 pan, just cook it a little longer (I cook it for 40-45 mins). Oh, one more tip… it tastes best fresh out of the fridge.


Buttercream Decorator Frosting
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening
3 pounds confectioners sugar
1 tb vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c milk

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and shortening. Beat in sugar, vanilla, salt and enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. 
You can then divy up to add coloring, or frost your cake.
This is enough frosting to generously frost two 9x13's with a cup or so to spare.  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

For Pleats Sake!

It's been a while since we've posted.  We are getting ready for our first open house at the end of the month!  Let's just say that knowing that you have to have product to show and some inventory in case people actually want to buy your stuff is a bit of work.  We also want to be sure to have things people want!  I think we have a good handle on that, but if you have ideas for us, always feel free to pass them along.  As I've been working, I noticed that most of the stuff (bags and wristlet) I've been making is pleated.  I'm not sure what it is about pleats that attracts me so.   It just seems to add enough to the design of a bag or purse to make it more interesting and desirable.  Here are some pics to confirm my fascination with pleats.  I made all of these things this week.

New pleated wristlet.  I'm keeping one.  This time I'm serious!
 Pleated purse...
 There are two pleats in this bag.  Hey, that still counts.
 Made this one today.  Lotsa pleats.  No handles.  I'm working on it.
 This one isn't pleated nor did I make it this week.  It's more ruffled.  Had to include it.
Just because I've blogged about it, doesn't mean that it's out of my system.  I'll be pleating it up as long as I can.
Moving on from pleats to potatoes.  Gina gave me the recipe below for potato soup last week.
It was chilly last weekend and was perfect soup weather.  I decided to try it out.  Let me just say, OH MY YUM.  It's good.  You'll be nice and full.  And if you decide to make the honey rolls as well, you'll feel like you need to run a marathon with all of the carbs, but it will be worth it.
Photo courtesy of Annie's Eats

Baked Potato Soup

Ingredients:
4-5 russet potatoes
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour, divided
6 cups 2% milk
2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup green onions, chopped
1/3-½ cup light sour cream
For topping:
Sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped green onions
Bacon pieces
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400° F.  Prick the potatoes with the tines of a fork.  Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle.  Scoop the insides of the potatoes into food processor, discarding the peels.  Pulse until the pieces are broken into small chunks.
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt the butter.  Add ¼ cup of flour to the pot and whisk into the butter.  Cook, whisking constantly, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the milk and the rest of the flour.  Cook until thick and bubbling, about 6-8 minutes.  Mix in the potato chunks.  Whisk in the salt, pepper, and cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted.  Remove from the heat, stir in the green onions and sour cream.
Serve immediately.  Garnish with sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onions and bacon as desired.

Tips from Gina:  Bake the potatoes then refrigerate them.  Scoop the potato out of the skins then just chop them up.  We like chunks, not potato puree'.
Don't skip on the onions or the toppings.
Tina's Tip:  The more bacon the better.  I mean, you need some protein on this, right?

Now here's the recipe for the mega-super-delicious honey buns.  That's what Nick calls Gina.  I don't get it.  Anyway.  If you have like ALL day to babysit bread dough, make this.  Making homemade rolls like this sure is a labor of love, but I think so worth it.  Just like my kids.  Except for today.  Just kidding.  Wow I'm on a roll.  Get it?  Roll?
Photo courtesy of Annie's Eats

Honey Yeast Rolls
Ingredients:
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115˚ F)
¼ cup honey
3 tbsp. canola oil
1¼ tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 cups bread flour
Vegetable cooking spray
2 tbsp. butter, melted
2 tbsp. honey
Directions:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast and warm water.  Add the honey, oil, salt, and egg and mix well.  Add 3 cups of the flour and mix until the dough comes together in a sticky mass.  Switch to the dough hook and, with the mixer on low speed, incorporate the remaining 1 cup of flour.  Continue kneading on low speed for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 30 seconds.  Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes.  Punch the dough down and divide into 10-12 equal size pieces.  Shape each piece into a smooth ball and place into a round, lightly greased 9- or 10-inch round baking dish, spacing evenly.  Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 20-30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Mix together the melted butter and honey, and brush the tops of the rolls with the mixture.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the rolls are baked through.  Let cool slightly before serving.

Tina's tip:  Use the leftover honey/butter that you spread on the top to butter the inside when you're ready to eat.  Oh, so, delicious.

There you have it folks.  Only Sweet Floweret can bring pleats and potatoes to you in one posting.
We're that good.
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