Friday, March 29, 2013

Where My (Homemade) Peeps At...

I figured it wouldn't be very Eastery of me to only have ONE post dedicated to Peeps this week; so, I decided to share our attempt at making our own sugar-coated, marshmallow goodies.  They were actually pretty easy to make and SO MUCH YUMMIER than the originals!

I started off with a batch of marshmallows.  I used this recipe and my always delicious Penzey's vanilla for flavoring.  Some of the Peep tutorials I found online said to dye the marshmallow; but, I wanted to leave them white so that they would look more like the real thing and also so I could make a few different colors without making multiple batches or TONS of marshmallows.

While my marshmallow cooled, I debated licking this giant beater coated with a ridiculous amount of marshmallow; but ultimately decided that no good could come of it.

After my marshmallows were totally cool, I turned them out and cut out my Easter shapes with cutters sprayed with cooking spray.

 I also cut some into cubes and rolled them around in the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture left from the recipe to make some regular marshmallows for after Easter (as if they will last that long).

Then I just moistened them a bit and rolled them in sugar.  I think that if I had colored the marshmallow it may have helped to hide the spots where the sugar didn't stick; but, I still prefer the look of the pure white marshmallow inside and the bright sparkly sugar outside.

Addie and I packed them up in these fun treat bags to give out for Easter. (Well, the four that are left anyway.)

And then I sat down to my giant mug of hot chocolate with a giant pile of "the world's most" delicious marshmallows!

I probably should have started cleaning up "the world's most" giant mess instead...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Knitting and Reading

I'm joining the Yarn Along again this week!  I just finished The Keeper of the Bees.  It was wonderful and I'm missing it now that it's over.  It was the last book Porter wrote and I only have a few more to read.  I'm going to spread the last few out because I know I'll be sad when I don't have anymore.  I imagine I will re-read them eventually, though.  They are just so good!

I started a new knitting project last week at our knitting club... this really pretty stole pattern that I picked up on our little mini vacation a few weeks ago.  It's my first time knitting anything with a lace pattern to it.  I'm excited and a bit nervous.  In fact, when I got home, I realized I had made a mistake so I ripped it out and started again... I haven't made it past casting on this time around, though.  The yarn is called Irish Jig and it's a mix of flax, cotton and rayon. It's really nice to knit. The color is called Wagon Wheel.  I'm really excited to have a new project to work on for spring.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Peep Toe Slippers for Spring!

I'm so excited about my Iron Craft project this week.  The group revived the very popular and very fun "Peeps" theme.  Two years ago, I made this fun peep wreath for the first round of Iron Craft.  I loved it and thought about making another; but, I wanted to try something different.

My Peeps Slippers were a project of many FIRSTS for me.  I had never made slippers before and I had also never sewn with fleece.  Most importantly, I had never even come close to making my own pattern for anything. I know they're not perfect; but, I'm really happy with them and they've given me the confidence to try to come up with some other original ideas.

I was actually surprised that I didn't find any other peep slippers anywhere online.  I thought they would be really cute and was certain I would find a tutorial; but I didn't find any mention of them.  Since I had zero experience making slippers to begin with, I decided to look at some elf shoe tutorials since I figured they would be fairly close in design.  I found this one and several other posts linking back to it.  It was a nice place to start and a great help in figuring out the actual slipper dimensions. I wasn't crazy about all of it though.  I found it a little difficult to follow so I sort of ended up doing my own thing.

Once I had the outer slippers and inner linings put together, I just attached them, puffed out my peep beaks and added some little dot eyes.  I debated using buttons, beads or a french knot; but I actually decided to use fabric paint so they would look more like traditional peep eyes.

I didn't get the peep angle just right; those marshmallow fellows REALLY bend back on themselves! Since I bought a full yard of peep colored fleece I'm going to work on it some more and see if I can get my next pair a bit closer to that oh, so classic peep shape.  Who knows?  Maybe I can whip up a pair for someone "Just Born"!  However, I think my Buddy likes them just the way they are!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bird Baggin' It

This week's Iron Craft theme was "Green".  We could either craft something using the color green or reuse something in a unique and crafty "green" way.  I decided to go with the color theme.  I already had a set of fat quarters  in my stash in shades of green that I knew I wanted to use.  I love love love anything with birds or botanical prints.  My bestie refers to this as my love of "old lady stuff" and regularly reminds me that I am still under the age of 70.  For my part, I blatantly ignore her and nail another butterfly picture to the wall.

Anyway, I decided to make a little "Nature Bag" for all of the treasures the kids collect on our walks in the park and around the neighborhood.  I found this great tutorial.  It was such a quick and easy project, that I ended up making two more so that they could each have their own.  I used three different fabrics for each to make the outer bag, lining and handles in coordinating prints.  It was the perfect use for my stack of fat quarters.  I left the gussets out of Aidan's to give it a "manlier" totebag feel... that is, if a "Nature Bag" can really have that manly of a feel to begin with!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Mysterious Affair with Spiles

Last spring, the whole family took a Maple Sugaring class at our local park.  We had such a great time that we just knew this year, we wanted to give it a go ourselves.  We have three big maple trees beside our driveway that are constantly dropping some sort of debris all over the place, so it was high time that they started contributing.  We think they are silver maples; which, aren't the ideal choice. They have a higher concentration of water to sugar so they don't make quite as much syrup.  They do, however, produce TONS of sap.  We got about a gallon of sap in the first twenty-four hours with just two taps.

Normally, you would collect for at least a few days before you boiled down a batch of syrup; but, since this was a total experiment, I wanted to try a batch before we spent two weeks collecting and storing sap.  For our first try, I just strained and poured it all into one big pot and started to boil.  It was such a nice day out, that I was able to open the kitchen windows to let out some of the steam.  I also made a giant pot of meatballs and sauce since I knew I'd be tied to the stove all day anyway!

The proper way to make syrup is to boil down smaller amounts of sap in two shallow pans and then add the reduced sap to a third pan for a final boil.  It boils down quicker and results in a higher quality syrup.  I will definitely go that route next time, as I had a few issues along the way.

The sap boiled down fairly quickly.  As it reached the bottom of the pan, I realized that the candy thermometer I had prepped was not going to work because the liquid in the pan was now too shallow.  I poured it into a smaller pan; but, eventually it became too shallow as well.  Then, about two minutes before my syrup was done, I cracked the glass on my thermometer.  This left me with no other option than to eyeball my syrup, as I had no idea about the temperature.  Eyeballing caramelizing sugar is definitely not the best way to go.  I didn't burn my syrup at all; but, I did leave it on the heat too long and as it cooled, it grew a bit too thick. 

 It's still delicious and we just microwaved it a bit to use on our pancakes this morning.  The good thing about maple sap is that I will have LOTS of opportunities to get it right over the next week or two!  We picked up a few more spiles to tap our third tree and add another to the largest tree.  I'll try another batch in a few days using the three pan method... just as soon as I pick up a new (and sturdy) candy thermometer!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Early Birds

After a week in the house with a poor, sick Aidan, this family took advantage of the beautiful weekend weather.  We soaked up all the morning sunshine we could and harassed a few birds along the way.

Aidan and a cardinal spent about forty-five minutes whistling back and forth to one another.  When Aidan tried to walk away down the path, his little red friend called and called until Aidan came back.  We headed to the park again this evening for a walk and to pick up a few more spiles for our maple syrup adventure.  Aidan whistled around a bit; but, his buddy was nowhere to be found.

In addition to our time outside, this weekend was filled with birthday parties, princess parties and a girls' day shopping trip as well.   I didn't actually accomplish any of the many jobs on my "This Weekend To Do List", so I've decided to go ahead and call it my "Next Weekend To Do List".  That means I'm ahead of the game, right?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mean Green Number Nine

A few weeks ago, our family participated in our first Pinewood Derby Race.  I really had no idea what to expect; but, things were very official (and apparently dangerous) as you can see...

Aidan's car is the lime green Porsche in the number nine position.  He was very proud of his little car and actually did quite a bit of the work himself.  I helped him tape out the windows for painting... that was the extent of my manufacturing efforts.

 I didn't see too many of the races.  Annalise and I were busy doing what we do best:  eating Cheetos and washing dishes.  I was on hot dog duty for the event.  I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed cooking two hundred hot dogs and making 10 gallons of lemonade.  It must be that lunch lady blood running through my veins!

Mean Green Number Nine didn't come out a winner...BUT, when you have to stay until Mom cleans up the kitchen, sometimes you luck out, and are awarded the extra trophy left on the table!  Holla!

And... one of these SWEET Derby Pit Crew Patches!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cuz You Can NEVER Have Too Many Dresses!!!

I've had really positive feedback from everyone about these fun spring dresses I've been making.  It's been such fun selecting just the right fabrics and planning the coordinating accessories.  I thought it would be fun to offer YOU the opportunity to Design Your Own Dress!  Ordering information can be found at the bottom of this post.

I made this green dress for Adelaide's bestie, "Lella".  She calls it her "garden dress" and definitely looks ready for a springtime garden party!

I also put together this pretty pink and blue dress that I think turned out as cute as can be, just like its' model!  The pin-on corsage in coordinating fabric gives it just the right touch for spring!

I already posted about these fun striped numbers I made for my girls for Valentine's Day.  It was a bit chilly on the big day so we paired them with long sleeve shirts and tights and they were just right!  I put together some large fabric covered buttons to make ponytail holders for Addie and a snap clip for Annalise.

I made this set for the girls for our autumn family photo.  I made these pumpkin patterned dresses a bit shorter to pair with leggings and fuzzy boots.  Addie had a coordinating fabric and burlap flower headband and Annalise wore a mini version on an alligator clip.

If you're interested in purchasing, I have decided to offer the dresses as a "You Design It" package deal.  You'll get a custom-designed dress, coordinating pin-on corsage and matching hair accessory.

Now for the fun part!!!

First, you have the option of choosing and purchasing your own fabric or allowing me to choose your fabric after we discuss just the sort of dress you'd like to have!  

Second, you can design your straps.  You can choose matching straps, straps in a coordinating fabric or dainty ribbon straps. 

Third, you can design the hem of your dress.  You can choose from a coordinating band of fabric or the decorative embroidery stitch of your choice.

Fourth, you design your removable corsage. You may choose either a shabby fabric flower or rosette fabric flower in your chosen fabric(s).

Fifth, you select your awesome hair accessory.  You can choose a snap clip, alligator clip, headband, elastic or ponytail holders.

So... that's it!  You do all the fun stuff and I do all the work!  And every single dress will be One of a Kind!  I won't remake any style you design, no matter how fabulous it is, no matter how jealous your friends become!  It will be ALL YOURS!

If you're interested in sizing, pricing or ordering, please email me at or leave a comment below with your contact information.  Thanks so much!