Once an Interior Decorator, now a mom, a baker, a crafter, a creator. Join me as I try to find time to indulge my creativity without wreaking too much havoc.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Star Wars Love

I never believed in the gender stereotypes. At least before I had my first daughter. I bought her trucks and dolls, princess dresses and firefighter outfits. I didn't want any preconceived ideas of what a little girl 'should' be like pushed upon her. I don't think those trucks or firefighter outfits were ever touched by her little hands. 
When she was 2 1/2 I bought her a twirly dress. This quickly became her 4 day a week dress, only not worn when it was in the wash. We had so many battles about that dress, I soon bought her a second. For a solid year and a half she wore some kind of twirly dress every day. Not even a skirt was good enough for this girly girl. The sparklier and twirlier the better. Oh, and don't even think about a color beside pink. Princesses and glitter and dresses, oh my!
This last year when my second daughter, now 4, became obsessed with Star Wars I was a little torn. Don't get me wrong, it was great to have some kind of relief from those princesses! I wasn't so crazy about the guns and other weapons, the play fighting, and her love of the villains though. As hard as I try to push the good guys, she just insists, "Darth Vader would love to have me on his side!" Whats a mom to do?
We embraced the Dark Side. Do you know how hard it is to find Star Wars clothing for a little girl? A friend told me about Her Universe, that has Star Wars and other Sci-Fi clothing specifically for women but unfortunately, she's 4, and they don't start that little. 
I came across a this tutorial at Stay At Home Artist for freezer paper stencil and made these shirts for my little Jedi. I thought about creating my own tutorial, but it's been done so many times, and done so well. 
So now my little Jedi had her own Darth Vader shirts because, lets face it, she wouldn't wear a Yoda or Luke Skywalker one. 
She was able to go to the Jedi Training Camp at Disney World this year and did get a little scared of Darth Vader when he came out. I guess it's a good sign that she didn't bow down to him.
So, we embrace it. It's a nice departure from twirly dresses and princesses. As long as she doesn't plan of freezing her little brother in carbonite, I'm fine. Plus, it's really fun to create all kinds of Star Wars goodies!
Like these cakes made for my closest friend's son.
 And these cupcakes for my daughter's birthday, blogged about here.
May the Force be with you!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May The Force Be With You

When my older daughter turned 4, we had a princess party. Boy, did she love princesses. We had our babysitter come dressed as a princess, played princess games, and made candy castles. She loved it. We took her to Disney World that year. She was in heaven with the Disney royalty.
My younger daughter, she's a different story... We took her to Disney World this year. She was in heaven!

Needless to say, when this one thinks of princesses, she thinks of Princess Leia, not Princess Jasmine.

So, for her 4th birthday party, she had a Star Wars party. Star Wars plates, Darth Vader candle, and to top it off, Light Saber cupcakes. I've been making decorated sugar cookies for years and found this great idea, with a tutorial to go with it, for light saber cupcake toppers at the The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle. I came across Sugarbelle years ago on Flickr and she sure knows how to wield an icing bag! I loved the way the rainbow Jedi cupcakes turned out!

I think my little Jedi was quite happy too!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

DIY No Sew Window Valance

Here's the first of the tutorials from my friend's son's new bedroom! Let me apologize to you first for the lack of pictures. It's a pretty simple project, I wish I had more pictures to show but I'll try to make up for it.

Just a reminder of what the room looked like before:

It's amazing how some simple window treatments can really pull a room together. I decided to try to make a faux box valance. This was something that I had never done before but always thought it would be pretty simple to do. My first thought was that I would cut some plywood down to size, well, I would have the nice employee at Lowes do it for me. Then I would cover it with some batting and use my new handy dandy staple gun to cover it with our fabric. Great idea, right? Seems simple enough. However my biggest concern wasn't making it, but hanging it. I'm a very crafty person however I'm lacking in basic handyman (woman) skills and I was worried about the weight of hanging fiberboard or plywood, or a 2x4. I honestly just don't know enough about support and weight and whatever else I need to know. I could always ask the hubby but I really wanted to do this project without his help. Off to Lowes I went for some inspiration.

I asked for some help from one of the nice gentlemen that work there and, after explaining what I was looking for, he took me on a guided tour of the store and showed me all of my options. Inspiration hit when we hit the wall insulation department! This huge foam sheet was way more than I needed, incredibly light, and at $16 a sheet, was perfect!

This is a picture of the leftover piece after I cute it to size.

I had one very long window (96.5") so I had to use two pieces and fit them up to each other. Really, all it entailed was wrapping the foam with fabric and stapling around the sides so the fabric was taut.

At the corners I tucked the fabric over to make my corners as neat as possible and stapled the fabric out of the way. It does help to trim any excess fabric away. I will say, it looked beautiful! I was so proud of  my little piece of fabric covered foam!

Looks perfect, doesn't it? Just go ahead and ignore my messy dining room. I really didn't want to carry all this stuff down to my basement craft room. 

Now, here's where I'm lacking in pictures. Again, sorry about that. I didn't connect the two pieces until we were actually in the room. I was worried about transporting it to my friend's house with the length that it was. When I got to her house, I used 2 flat splice brackets to connect the two panels at the long end.

Flat Splice Bracket

And then I used (2) 4" L shaped brackets on each to connect it to the wall above the window. First I connected one 2 to the wall, one on each end, then after triple checking my measurements, I connected them to the backside of the foam. Since it was foam that I was working with, I took my Gorilla Tape and secured everything on the back, the brackets, staples, everything, just in case. 

After all the brackets were attached we simply lifted the valance,which was as light as a feather (and stiff as a board), and connected the brackets to each other so the final bracket shape was an upside down U. The side panels are hanging from curtain rods behind the valance. Very simple and easy project. I think the Valance part of this project cost less than $40.

As always, feel free to leave any comments or questions! Stay tuned for the tutorial on the DIY headboard coming soon! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Boy's Bedroom Redo DIY

As you may know, I left my job in Interior Design 7 years ago when I had my first child. I do miss it, however I try to put my hard earned degree to use every so often, usually in my own home. Building our house was one of the most fun things I've done, with every room to design, and me being the client! Sometime I'll post a little on that, this post is on a different 'client.'

My very close friend came to me asking for some help on her son's bedroom. He's almost 7 and, while he had some nice furniture, he was in the same bedding since he was 2 and not much design to the room. As you see, the before pictures:

She wanted a more put together room for him that, without being too mature, he could grow into and not have it be too juvenile for his teenage years.  There was no set budget, the goal was to spend only what we needed too. With every project being a DIY-er, we did a fantastic job with the budget, spending less than $200 on the whole room. 

I'll have quite a few tutorials to follow on all the projects but I'll give you a quick peek on the overall 

What a lot of people don't know is that even arranging the furniture differently in a room can be a huge change. In a bedroom, the bed should be centered on the longest wall. It forms a nice focal point in the room that way. There's lots of different options to create a headboard too if you don't have one. Even simple painting a color block behind the bed is a great option. Hanging a piece of artwork above the bed has the same effect. For my friend's son's room, we were lucky because the only piece he was really missing was a headboard. Here I created a headboard by refinishing and upholstering some awful framed artwork I found at goodwill for $12 each. My friend found fabric she liked on clearance and scored the whole bunch of it for $20. We still have a ton left over that I'm not sure what we're going to do with.

Another really easy tutorial I will have for you is the no-sew window valance I created with roofing foam, a staple gun, fabric, and some brackets. It's so easy you won't believe it and looks very professional.
Here's the link for the No-Sew Window Valance: No-Sew Window Valance Tutorial

We completed the room with some dollar store pizza tins turned sports magnet boards, and some tack board maps that we framed ourselves with trim from the hardware store.

Needless to say, this almost 7 year old is thrilled with his big boy room. Even more satisfying to me, his dad, who while thinking the whole project was unnecessary but let us do it anyway, loves it. 

Stay tuned for some easy to follow tutorials on inexpensive ways to create headboards, window treatments, wall art, and magnet boards. As always, any comments are greatly appreciated!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sparkle Boot Redo - DIY

These are my 6 year old's new boots. No they're not. They're her old, horribly scuffed boots that I won't let her wear anymore because she totally ruined them after a month of wear. What's a mom to do? Well, I did search high and low for a new pair of boots for her. Did I mention that I have the pickiest 6 year old in Chicago? I was so proud of her when she was younger that she knew what she wanted and wouldn't let people sway her. We want our girls to be strong minded, right? Yeah, that's only with other people. With us, they should bend to our wills, right? Anyway, back on subject. Since I couldn't find anything that was up to her standards I went back to the beginning. I decided to have a go with refashioning her old boots so they would be wearable again. After all, they are a perfectly good pair of boots, except for that ugly toe.

Horribly scuffed boot, ugh...
I went to my craft room and pulled out my trusty Mod Podge. If I could tell you how many things I've used Mod Podge for, I love this stuff. Don't get me started (not a sponsored post, blah, blah, blah). My first thought was black glitter, however I only had a small container of it so I mixed it with silver. I think I used a total of 2 small vials of glitter and maybe 1/4c Mod Podge, probably less.

First I took a permanent marker and covered the ugly. I'm not sure if this step was necessary but I didn't want to risk it. If I were doing it again, I'd probably scuff up the whole area that I was glittering a little just because it seems to adhere better where it's scuffed.

My initial though was to just glitter the toe. As you can see below, it goes on pretty white. Don't worry, it dries clear.

See? Clear. Sparkly! Hmm... Enough sparkle? I don't think so! Not for this 6 year old!

There we go, that should do it! I really had to stop myself before I covered the whole shoe. I actually asked my 6 year old at this point for her opinion. Big mistake. We almost ended up with hot pink and purple glitter on them too. Could have been cute, but I guess I'm not that daring. Oh, and I'm not 6.

Ta Da! Needless to say she's thrilled. She wouldn't take them off for like, 6 hours. My husband took the kids out to dinner that night and the second she walked in the door the hostess came up to her and said, "Wow! Great boots!" To which she replied, "Thanks, my mom made them."

Friday, March 2, 2012

Family Vacation Shirts

I've always seen those people at Disney Land and other various vacation spots with their whole extended family and was secretly a little jealous. My parents took us on plenty of family vacations. Amazing vacations. I have nothing to complain about. However, it was always just the four of us, Mom, Dad, me, and my brother. Don't get me wrong, lots of fun. You just see those people, all together, and it looks like such a great bonding experience. You always know who they are because inevitably, they're wearing matching shirts.  

Well, for my father-in-law's 60th birthday they decided to take all of us to a resort in Mexico. Amazing, right? My father in law is remarried so between the two of them there's 8 kids/spouses, and, at the time, 6 grandkids. I decided that this would be the perfect time to pull out the matching shirts. If, for nothing else, a good picture. We were in Mexico, after all. It's not like we needed the shirts to keep track of each other as you would in a place like Disney World. So, here you have the matching shirts. A very easy and quick project.

First I decided on a picture of my FIL that would work well. Considering I had about 6 pictures of him, I was lucky I found a good one. I used Photoshop but there are tons of free picture editing sites online now, so you can use whichever. First I changed the photo to black and white and played around with the brightness and contrast.

Then I used the artistic adjustments, both posterize and poster edges until I liked what I saw.

I then just copied and pasted the image and used the color fill tool to get a Warhol inspired design.

 I simply uploaded the image to Zazzle (there are tons of sites now that will print your design onto anything pretty inexpensively) and selected everyone's sizes and styles. The nice thing about it was everyone was able to pick their own style. My husband's cousin got a tank top, my sister-in-law got a babydoll t-shirt, everyone got what they wanted. 

The shirts turned out great. We made pink and blue ones for the kids and the fronts said, "I survived my Poppi's 60th." On the front of the adults there was a simple 60 where the shirt pocket would be. It's really a great idea to personalize the trip a bit. They made for great memorable pictures and I think my daughter wore her 'Poppi Shirt' for the following two years. 

Next time you have a family vacation or group outing you should try it. It's really very easy and takes very little time and trust me, everyone will be very impressed!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dairy Free, Soy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Ahhh!!!!

As my 3 year old says, "Sarah* is allergic to everything." She literally thinks that Sarah is allergic to EVERYTHING. Sarah's poor mother probably feels that that's the case most days. She brings her own snack to pre-school, birthday parties, restaurants. With three kids who don't have a single allergy between them I can't imagine how difficult it must be to raise a child with allergies to Dairy, Soy, Eggs, and Nuts.

For my little one's birthday at preschool, after talking to the mom in question, I decided that I would make just a little extra effort and adapt my sugar cookie recipe so all kids could enjoy. Let me tell you, it was enjoyed by all! It took forever for me to convince little Sarah that it actually was okay for her to eat the same cookies as everyone else and her mom said so too. Here is the recipe:

Dairy, Nut, Soy, Egg Free Sugar Cookies

2 sticks butter (dairy free, soy free, vegan) - softened
1 c granulated sugar
1 egg worth of Ener-G
1 T vanilla
1 T vanilla rice milk
3 c Flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In your mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Prepare Ener-G as package says and add Ener-G egg substitute, vanilla, and rice milk to butter mixture.

Slowly add flour mixture, a little at a time, until incorporated and dough starts to form.

Here's where I do my cut-out cookies a little differently. Pour out the dough onto wax paper and roll between two pieces of wax paper until desired thickness. Usually around 1/4", maybe a little less, works best for me. Then I place the rolled out dough onto a baking pan and put the whole thing in the freezer. 

Now start preheating your oven to 325. While you're waiting, prepare cookie sheet by lining with parchment paper. I used to use Silpats but I find that the cookies spread less with the parchment paper. I have no idea why, or if this happens to anyone else, but I like parchment paper. When your oven is ready, take the dough out of the freezer.

Take your cookie cutters and cut out dough and place and cookie sheet. They will spread as you bake them, so make sure to leave 2" between each cookie.

Depending on size of cookie cutter used bake between 13-20 minutes, on and upper rack of the oven, checking then towards the end. All of our ovens seem to cook just a little differently. You'll figure out the right time for yours during the first batch. 

Because I could barely use any of the ingredients that I usually use in my icing, the icing used on these cookies was just a mix of confectioners sugar and rice milk. It's not great for decorating but the kids all seemed to love them anyway!

Good luck! Let me know how they turn out.

A much needed reinvention

This blog for a long time has been revolved around my cookie business. With many changes happening in the past two years with my life, I've decided that this is just not where I want to be. With the birth of my third child there's just not enough hours in the day to build a business. I now find that I need to find other ways to feed my creativity that don't take too much time away from my kids. I'll now focus mostly on what I fondly refer to as, "my projects."

Most of these projects can be done 5 minutes at a time because, lets face it, as a mom of three that's really all the free time we have. Five minutes here and there. I'll share with you my craft triumphs as well as my failures (there are plenty). I hope to inspire you to take just five minutes and create something.
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