Archive for March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

crafting inspiration from the japanese

Sometimes we get in a crafting rut and have to look beyond our little world for inspiration. We thought we'd share a few craft projects and inventions today we found totally ingenious, in case you find yourself in a rut, too.

I know I could use a Baby Mops around my house! Couldn't you? But don't worry, the text says it's not child exploitation. You're just teaching "responsibility and a healthy work ethic" to your baby!


Living in Seattle, I could really use a pair of these umbrellas to keep the tips of my toes dry.


I wonder if I could make this using my homemade butter and an empty glue stick?


The only thing missing is a garbage can for the used tissue. I bet I could attach one to my belt. . .


Perfect for nights when my husband is on call at the hospital. It would only take a half a shirt, so I could make one for myself and friend!

Yes, it's April Fool's Day tomorrow. Just keeping you all on your toes. Hope your day is full of fun!

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Monday, March 30, 2009

denim picnic blanket quilt-along - part 1



I'm so excited about the great response we had to our denim picnic blanket invitation! And I'm glad I'm not the only one who's been stockpiling old jeans, just waiting for a purpose. I've been researching denim quilt patterns, looking for something easy and inexpensive, since many of you mentioned you were novice or first-time quilters. While at my friend Deborah's house one day, I asked to see her denim quilt and I was shocked at how perfect it was for our project!


In addition to being lightweight (i.e easy to haul to your picnic site), the virtues of this denim blanket are 1. it uses large blocks (= fast and easy!), and 2. it does not have a backing, so you don't have to buy backing fabric or batting (= cheap!). All you'll need in addition to the jeans are gold jean thread, fabric for binding, plus the vinyl tablecloth and snaps. If you got your jeans for free, this is one super-inexpensive picnic blanket! Thanks, Deborah!



If you aren't as excited about this pattern as I am, you can find another quilt pattern, with or without backing, and get working on it on your own. Then hold tight until we get to the snap-on part of the tutorial. Here's another great tutorial for a true denim quilt if you're looking for something different. But for those who are with me, let's get started!

Denim Picnic Blanket Part 1

What you'll need for part 1 (click here for a list of supplies for the entire project):

*Eight to twelve pairs of denim jeans (adult sizes are best, but you can make smaller blocks using children's sizes)
*Rotary cutter and cutting mat
*Long, see-through quilting ruler
*Vinyl tablecloth (for sizing purposes)

1. Grab a pair of jeans and cut the legs off. Cut as close to the crotch as you can without cutting the back pocket.


2. Lay one of your jean legs out on the cutting mat.

Then adjust the leg so that the outside seam is on the very edge as pictured below. This will be a fairly straight seam (as opposed to the inseam which usually curves at the thigh and calf). Use this seam as a guide for the next steps. Smooth out any wrinkles.


3. Fold your leg in half, keeping the outer seam flat. Smooth out wrinkles again. Lay your ruler on top.


Keep vertical side of the ruler parallel to the outer seam. Keep the horizontal lines of the ruler straight on the fold. Cut off the inseam at the narrowest part.


4. Next you're going to "square up" your block. (Note: the picture below demonstrates a smaller block, but this should be done for ALL blocks.) Line up the horizontal line on your ruler with that straight outer seam again. Cut the ends of the block along the vertical side to make it a 90° angle. Repeat on other sides until it is a square (or a nice rectangle) with 90° angles.


5. Open up your leg. This is your finished block.


6. Repeat with other leg and remaining jeans. Lay out your vinyl tablecloth on the floor and cover with blocks, overlapping them 1.5" on each side, until you have enough to cover it sufficiently. I cut large blocks and smaller blocks to make the most of my denim, and to make it fit the tablecloth better. You can cut them any size you want, but be sure all the blocks in a row are approximately the same length. We'll arrange the blocks and cut them to exactly the same length in part 2.


7. If you want, cut off several pockets from the jeans to sew on randomly when we're done.



That's it for part 1. It's a couple hours worth of work, but hopefully you can find time to do it before I post part two next week. Please feel free to leave a comment with questions and I'll answer in the comments for everyone to see. Now get going!

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

tots and tails winner and a reader appreciation package!


We have our winner for the Tots and Tails photography package giveaway! The prize package goes to. . .

Tamis of the marks 5!

Yea for Tamis! Please send us an e-mail with your contact info so we can get you in touch with Haley.

So what about the rest of you? Just going to sit around and mope because you didn't win? No you're not, because Tot and Tails was so flattered by all your sweet comments that she's offering our readers a fabulous package as well!

Little Birdie Package:
$150 for 2 hours, plus an 8x10, as well as the CD of your images.


Just mention you saw it on Little Birdie Secrets when you book your session. You will love working with Haley--she is a sweetie. Thanks for such a great deal, Haley!

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Friday, March 27, 2009

make your own granola

I love granola. What I don't like is how expensive it is. The boxes of granola cereal are usually the most costly cereals at the store. A few years ago when I got this granola recipe and loved it, it was the end of store-bought granola for my family. Not only does it taste delicious, but it is very inexpensive. And in this economy, who isn't looking to save some money? I make this granola fairly regularly for my family and we all love it. Most of us just like to eat it plain as a snack, but it is also delicious as cereal with milk poured over it. It makes a really large batch, so if you don't think your family can eat it all in a few weeks, then you might want to half the recipe. Try this granola out for yourself and see if you don't want to say goodbye to the store-bought stuff too!

Granola
7 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup oil
1 cup honey
1/4 cup water
2 T. vanilla
1/2 T. salt
1/8 cup cinnamon

Mix all of the ingredients together and spread out on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir and bake another 15 minutes. Scrape the bottom of cookie sheet as soon as it is done to prevent sticking. Cool and then store in an airtight container.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

family easter photography giveaway

Eastside Seattle photographer Tots and Tails is offering our local readers a great giveaway! Check out her site, then leave us a comment by Friday at 11:59pm to be entered to win the following Easter photography package:

*2-hour session
*Copyrights to a high resolution CD of your images with original color proofs
*20 enhanced photos in either sepia, black and white, or antique finish
*Free 11x14

Here are a few of our favorites from the Tots and Tails gallery. We love all her maternity shots!






Easter pictures are so fun--I love having more than one reason to get my kids dressed up in their Easter duds. If you live in the Redmond/Kirkland/Woodinville area or are willing to travel, leave us a comment for a chance to win a beautiful family portrait package!

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how to crochet a flower video tutorial

One thing I love about crocheting is that there are so many ways you can use it to create embellishments. From decorative edging to flowers, you can dress up a t-shirt or a scrapbook page with your hook and just a little yarn. Lately I've been obsessed with crocheting little flowers--maybe because they're so quick and satisfying! I altered a few other flowers I'd tried and came up with my favorite 5-petal flower pattern. I'm sure I didn't invent it, but it came about for me by trial and error and it turns out cute with almost any kind of yarn. Here are a few items I've made recently with flowers. Check out these and more now in my Etsy shop!






If you want to make your own, we've made a short video tutorial to show you just how to do it. I'm a visual learner, so I know some of you out there just need to see it done once to figure it out. Check it out, then find the written pattern below. WARNING: This is not a general crochet lesson. You'll need to know how to do a few basic stitches to complete a flower.

video

Or, watch it on YouTube. It's a bigger picture, but the picture and sound quality aren't as good.

Mandy's Favorite 5-Petal Flower Pattern

Materials:
Any size hook (depending on what size flower you want)
Any weight yarn

Rnd 1: Ch 5, join into a ring w/sl st in 1st ch.
Rnd 2: Ch 3 (counts as first dc), work 9dc in ring, join to top of ch w/sl st -- 10 sts.
Rnd 3: **Ch 2, work 3dc in next st, ch 2, sl st in next st** five times. Fasten off.

For a different color center, try changing yarn colors after round 2. Experiment with different weight yarns and hook sizes. To layer a slightly smaller flower on top, go down one hook size from larger flower.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

chocoholic cake



Hi, my name is Jessica....and I am a chocoholic. I am addicted to chocolate. Phew, it feels good to have that off my chest. I must also admit that I make little to no effort to overcome it. In fact, I am always on the lookout for recipes that might feed this addiction for me. Luckily, my mom knows this about me and was kind enough to be my enabler and pass a wonderful recipe on. Chocoholic cake. Yes, that is really the name. It can't get any sweeter than this.

Chocoholic Cake
1 chocolate cake mix
1 small package (3.4 oz) chocolate pudding
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients except nuts and chips on low until well blended. Beat 2 minutes on high. Add nuts and chips. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes. Cool cake 10 minutes then turn out onto platter. Glaze with the following recipe.

Glaze:
1 bar (2 oz) semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 T. butter
2 T. water
1 tsp. vanilla
Melt chocolate and butter in microwave 30 seconds at a time until smooth and melted. Cool. Add powdered sugar alternately with water. Add vanilla. Pour over cake.

Enjoy every heavenly bite!

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

enter plaid's mod podge spring craft contest!


If you've read more than a couple of our posts, you know the Three Birdies are HUGE fans of Mod Podge, a decoupage medium and adhesive. We just found out that Plaid, the makers of Mod Podge, are hosting a Spring Craft Contest, and we think one of our readers could win this thing! Just submit a photo of an original spring craft project using Mod Podge to Plaid and you could win up to $75 worth of Plaid produts! The deadline is April 2, 2009, and more details can be found below. If you do happen to enter, make sure to send us a picture of your project! Good luck!


Plaid is celebrating the arrival of spring with a contest! Here's your chance to show your stuff and win great prizes!

Entering is easy, just send us a photo of your best craft project (created by you) that uses Mod Podge and is inspired by spring.

You will get a chance to win one of these fabulous prizes

Grand Prize: $75 worth of products from Plaid; you and your work featured on Plaidonline.com
Second Place Prize: $50 worth of products from Plaid
Third Place Prize: (Two Prizes) $25 worth of products from Plaid

To Enter:

  • Submit your favorite craft project. Projects should be inspired by spring, use a spring color palette or have a spring theme.
  • Projects must use Mod Podge
  • Projects must be created and owned by you.
  • Email a photo of your project to promotions@plaidonline.com along with the following information
    Name:
    Email:
    Address:
    Project Description:
    Products Used:
  • What are your crafting plans for the summer and the
  • Original reason you created this project (specifically for this contest, gift-giving, home decor, etc.)

Entries will be judged by a panel of judges on originality, creativity and use of product.

You may be asked to provide project instructions and/or send actual project by mail if selected.

Contest Dates:
March 19 through April 2;

Winner Selected : May 1

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

embroider your kids' artwork

My son drew a picture a while ago of a boy picking apples. I saved it, but it is getting a little scrunched. So I found a cheap and easy way to make it last a little longer! It's called an Embroidery Transfer Pencil, and it is a fun, easy way to turn your child's (or your own) artwork into a treasured keepsake.

Embroidering Your Child's (or your own) Artwork Tutorial

What you'll need:

*Drawing you want to transfer to fabric
*Light-colored fabric of your choice (try white muslin)
*Embroidery transfer pencil
*Iron
*Needle
*Embroidery floss

1. Trace over your drawing with an embroidery transfer pencil. Joann has a lot of options for pencils, and they are only $2-$3. Remember, your image will be transferred in reverse, so avoid images that won't look right backward.

2. Place your paper face down on your fabric and iron with a dry iron.

3. If you have an embroidery hoop, put your fabric in it. If not, you can still do it, but it will just be a little less stable when you're stitching. Stitch over the lines of your image, changing colors when necessary.

4. Leave it in the hoop or frame it for an adorable keepsake!


I may try to do some of my kids' art on dishtowels. There are so many possibilities. It is a good way to save your child’s art. Grandparents will love this!

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Monday, March 16, 2009

the mail sack bag

I fell in love with this bag pattern when I saw a sample at a local quilt shop. I thought this would be a perfect way to get my Heather Bailey Pop Garden fix. The pattern is by Pink Chalk Studio, another Pacific Northwest quilter/designer/blogger. Whoo hoo! This bag, the Mail Sack, comes in two sizes--I made the really big one. A fun cross-body bag is a great way to great ready for spring if you use fun, bright-colored fabrics.




Check out how roomy it is! It even has a zippered pouch and a pocket to keep you organized.

Another great bag is the Margaret Sling Bag by Oh, Fransson. This free pattern delivers a simple lined bag with a ton of style! I love the front pleat. She has a couple of examples in really cool fabrics on her blog as well. I would consider myself an intermediate seamstress, and this bag was totally doable for me.


Whip up one of these bags and you'll be ready to head out for some spring shopping!

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Friday, March 13, 2009

make your own thin mints



Are the Girl Scouts still at your local grocery store, tempting you each time you go shopping? I'm sad to see mine go! I love, love, love the Girl Scouts' Thin Mint Cookies. I could eat the whole box in one sitting. And have you tried the ice cream? To die for. Okay, so what do you do when they're gone and you have to wait a whole year to get more? Why make your own, of course! They're easier than you think, and taste almost exactly the same! You won't believe what the "cookie" part is.

Thin Mint Cookies Recipe

*Ritz Low Sodium Crackers
*1/2 package dark chocolate chips
*1/2 package milk chocolate chips
*Peppermint extract/flavoring (NOT mint, you want the peppermint)

1. Melt your chocolate chips in a glass bowl in the microwave. Start by microwaving them for about two minutes. Stir well and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each time, until smooth. Add your peppermint flavoring (1-2 teaspoons, to taste).


2. Dip your crackers in the chocolate to cover. This can get messy, so you may want to use a fork to push the cracker down into the chocolate and lift it out. Try to make it a thin layer.


3. Lay each dipped cracker on a piece of wax paper. Allow to cool until chocolate is dry. They peel easily off the wax paper. That's it! Enjoy! This recipe yields about 2 dozen cookies.


If Thin Mints aren't your fave, try the Samoas featured by another great blog, Baking Bites. She has the recipes for all the Girl Scout cookies. Check it out!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

invite a leprechaun for st. patrick's day

The leprechauns paid a little visit to our house and dyed the milk green!


First he came across the kitchen floor,


then up the front of the refrigerator. . .


and the next thing we knew, our milk was green!


Okay, so we staged this a little early in anticipation of St. Patrick's Day, but just so we could show you how to invite your own leprechaun for a secret visit this year. We used a little tempura paint to create the footprints using the sides of each hand, plus a finger for the little toes. Do this just before your kids come down for breakfast so it doesn't dry there too long. We wiped it up easily with water, but we don't know how well it will come off if you leave it too long. If you're worried about using paint, try this recipe for washable finger paint. Then you can let your kids play with the leftover paint.

Next we added some green food coloring to the milk. This was a huge hit with the kids! They couldn't believe a leprechaun sneaked in to play a little trick. This would be a great way to introduce a little treasure hunt around the house to find the leprechaun--and his gold!

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