Archive for January 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010

how to crochet a heart


I am so excited to share another how-to video for my current crochet obsession: hearts! Many of you liked our how-to crochet a flower video, so I know I'm not the only one who sometimes learns better by watching. Sometimes just seeing it done makes all the difference! These little sweethearts are simple to make using basic crochet stitches. And, after a little practice, they take me less than 2 minutes start to finish. They are the perfect size to incorporate on a card or scrapbook page, or on baby accessories. We'll even be using them on our LOVE banner for the Meet & Greet party. If you don't crochet, I've added these to my etsy shop, so you can still feel the love.






Crocheted Heart Pattern

Supplies used:
Size D crochet hook
Size 3 crochet thread or embroidery floss
(Or use any size hook/yarn you have on hand--it will just change the size)

All stitches worked into the first chain.

Ch 4. Work 3 tr (triple crochet) into first ch, 3 dc, ch 1, 1 tr, ch 1, 3 dc, 3 tr. Ch 3, sl st into center and fasten off.

After playing around to create this pattern, I noticed Skip To My Lou has a similar heart pattern. She started with this basic shape, but added two more rounds to make it larger. You can add one or both of her rows to make different sized hearts like I did. But my favorite are still the tiny hearts--so sweet!

Good luck with your hearts, and let us know if you have any questions. I'm no crochet expert, but I've made enough mistakes along the way to have learned a thing or two!

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Friday, January 29, 2010

make your own yogurt

Hi friends! Jessica here. I must apologize for my little vacation from posting recipes. We had a lot of other posts going on that were so great, but I am back and have a great recipe for you today. I have a cousin named Sydney and let me tell you, she is one amazing lady. She makes all her own pitas, breads, buns, tortillas, yogurt and much more. She even has her own chickens! Besides that she is also fabulous at sewing, crafting, gardening, refinishing furniture, and the like. I have yet to find something she is not good at. Aren't we all jealous? Unfortunately since we live so far away from each other, I don't get to see Sydney much, but I sure am grateful for our blogging/email friendship.

A little bit ago Sydney shared with me how to make my own yogurt. This is such a wonderful idea because it is much cheaper than buying it at the store and it is really quite simple. I am always looking for ways to use my dry milk powder too, so that's a bonus. I hope you will try this out.

Homemade Yogurt (4 cups)
3 3/4 cup warm water
1 2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
4 Tbsp. store bought plain yogurt (make sure it has live active cultures)
*Sydney's note: Make sure it has a far-off expiration date. You can also use starter from your homemade yogurt for the next batch but it loses its potency after a couple of batches.

In a large saucepan, combine the water and milk powder. Heat the milk over medium heat until it reaches 180 F degrees. This is to kill off any competing bacteria so the yogurt will grow better. Remove from the stove and allow it to cool to 115 F degrees. If the milk is any hotter than this it will kill off the yogurt culture, much cooler and it will grow too slowly. Stir in the yogurt culture and allow it to dissolve completely.

Carefully pour the mixture into a very clean, canning jar (or another quart size container) and place in warm spot for 6-8 hours to incubate. What I did (recommended from Sydney) was place really hot water in a small ice chest and then I put a plastic container in the bottom to lift the jar up out of the water, then I closed the ice chest and put it in a warm place of the house. You could also place it in your oven with just the oven light on. The longer you leave the yogurt the sourer it will be. If you want it to be thicker, you can add additional milk powder in the initial stages.

You now have yogurt! You can refrigerate it and use it as you wish. You can now make the yogurt to your own liking by adding all sorts of fruits, nuts, honey, or maple syrup. You can also use it in many recipes and substitute it for sour cream, but it's much healthier.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

royal icing flow is hard--really hard



I saw this wonderful "Top Ten" list over at Sweetopia on how to decorate sugar cookies using "icing flow." I was so excited because she made it look so easy. Marian, you are one talented woman. Whew! Easy is not a word I would use to describe royal icing flow work. My hands just cramp up thinking about it. This is something that you will need to practice--a lot! I am not discouraged, though, and I am determined to be a decent sugar cookie decorator, so I still see lots of cookie baking in my future. I know my kids are excited about that.



I really like her royal icing recipe and it was super easy to make. I am sad to say all the imperfections and such were all my doing. I can't blame the icing. I have now added a Kopy Kake projector to my ever growing wish list of craft supplies. I am sure if I could just project the picture on the cookie they would be much cuter. Right?


Well, I am off to bake some more sugar cookies because practice makes perfect!

{Note: This is Mandy, and I have to cut in here and say that these cookies turned out AMAZING! They were so stinkin' cute and delicious. I couldn't believe what an incredible job she did. You're too hard on yourself, Stacy!}

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

sweep me off my feet - painted broom tutorial



While browsing through the cleaning supply section at the local store, I saw a whole leopard print line of dustpans, brooms and other various cleaning supplies. I thought it was very clever, but I wasn't sure I was really the leopard-print-broom type. However, it did give me the idea for this next project.

I wrangled a dear friend (and super talented one to boot) to come over and help me with this broom makeover. I love how it turned out and I am excited to make some more as gifts for friends. I think this would be a darling house warming gift or fun gift for the gal in your life that likes a little style as she cleans (remember our pretty rubber gloves tutorial?).



You will need:
One large wood handle broom-I found this at the hardware store for $12
Paint
Spray paint-optional
Painters tape
Brushes
Clear top coat-we used Krylon clear spray coat

I first spray painted my whole handle red. It was the easiest and fastest way to get the whole handle covered. Be careful here, I accidentally got some red paint on the bristle part of the broom and it was really tough to recover from that. We painted it as you can see, but that wasn't my preference. I would have rather left that part alone. So, be sure to tape off and cover up any areas you do not want paint on.


Once that part was done, we moved on to the detail work with small brushes. We decided on a sweet floral theme. With Valentine's Day around the corner, we were in the mood for pinks and reds.

I love these little flowers.

Take your time and have fun with your painting. We made our pattern up as we went.


Once you are done, cover the whole broom handle in a clear topcoat to prevent the paint from chipping off.


***WARNING*** As my brother so cleverly pointed out--husbands, do not give this to your wife for Valentine's Day. I don't care if you got a matching toilet cleaner and apron in her favorite colors. This will send the wrong message. Stick with the chocolates and spa gift certificates.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

vintage pearl winner


Our Vintage Pearl Giveaway sure was popular! 669 of you entered! I am not surprised considering what an amazing prize this is. Well, the lucky winner of a $50 gift certificate from The Vintage Pearl is...


Natalie from the blog Where I am...


Congrats, lucky lady! Please email us at littlebirdiesecrets@gmail.com so we can pass your info onto the sponsor.

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special delivery: valentine chair backers and mailboxes


Darling...Lovely....Sweet....

These are all words that describe these adorable Valentine Chair Backers. We fell in love with these last year and even bookmarked the tutorial. With Valentine's Day fast approaching we thought it was time to pull out the red felt and start working away on one, two or three of these bags (8 if you count up all our kids combined.)

Another fun idea would to make these in different colors so they can be used for other special occasions too. Imagine a bright birthday bag or maybe a pastel Easter bag. The possibilities are endless.


We also loved No Biggie's thrifted and restyled mini mailboxes (as seen on Make and Takes this week). I've got to get to the thrift store and find one (or four) of these! Absolutely adorable.

Thanks, Amy and Kami, for being such sweeties and sharing your talents with us. We know some very cute kids that will be really excited to get their Valentine's this year.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

cupcake night

I've been dying to visit a local cake supply store in North Seattle. I've driven by it a few times and always made a mental note to come back sometime and see what they had. Well, I finally made it in and I was impressed. They had so many goodies and fun things. I decided right away that I needed to pick up supplies for a fun family night of cupcake decorating.

I bought some pre-made fondant and the family had lot of fun turning them into neat little cupcake toppers. Thank you Flickr for all the inspiration. Just type in "fondant" in the search bar and you will have pages and pages of fun ideas and lovely pictures. I love being creative and I really love watching my kids get creative. Here's a few of our cupcakes from our decorating extravaganza.

This is made from chocolate fondant. If you can't find it, you can always warm up tootsie rolls and roll it out into shapes. This might make a great Super Bowl dessert.


This is my son's creation. He was inspired by Artisan Cake Company's Flickr picture of a manta ray and had to make one too. However, he wanted to go with a bolder color so we made a bright red one.


I helped little one with this. She really wanted a piggie cupcake. This was inspired by another Flickr picture who got her inspiration from another Flickr member (and so on and so on...).


This is dad's cupcake. He's the skier in the family so he went with simple coconut snow and vintage looking skier.


Sweet daughter decided to go with a floral theme.

Family night was a success and we are all recovering from sugar overload. I am now in love with working with fondant and want to make all my cakes and cupcakes with it. Also, I've heard great things about marshmallow fondant so that is now on my to-do list. If you have a great (and easy!) marshmallow fondant recipe I would love to know.

Yum! Yum!

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Janome Pass it On Contest


I LOVE my sewing machine and I can't remember my life before my serger. They are always out and they get A LOT of use. Well, if you are an enthusiastic sewer like me who would like the chance to win a new machine, serger or sewing supplies, then you need to check out the Janome Pass It On Contests. They have two contests going on right now so you have two chances to win. Yippee!!

Check HERE and HERE for the details. I love their theme of sharing. The idea of sharing your skills and passing them on to others is right in line with the spirit of our blog. We are passionate about what we do and we want to share our passion with the world. I bet some of you are already doing this too so entering this contest will be a breeze. I know I would love to have a new serger with a stronger motor so I can work with thicker material.

Well, I am off to share my sewing skills because this is one contest I want to win too!

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Blog Swap with Blue Cricket Design

A Little Birdie once told me that I just had to come check out this site! Remind me to send that Little Birdie a Thank You note and a chocolate cupcake because the moment I first visited I knew I 'd be hooked! Thanks so much you three little creative geniuses for having me over for a short spell!



I'm Becca visiting from Blue Cricket Design! It's a pleasure to meet ya' all! I've got the typical mommy blogger credentials! I'm a mother to three girls and married to my High School Sweetheart! I'm a room mom ( remind me not to do that again!) and and a lover of Mint Oreos (remind me to buy some more!) But besides all the "check the box" job titles I'm mostly a gal who loves to express herself and create!

My tiny corner on the web, Blue Cricket Design, is where I record my adventures and share my ideas! It's my collection of sewing tips, project ideas, tutorials, photoshop how to's, recipes giveaways and other randomness that make me smile! Come check me out and say hello!

Here's a little sampling of some of my past favorite projects:


Scrap Fabric Bracelets


Adult Skirt revamp


Furniture Refinishing


Coupon Caddy Tutorial


Dresser Drawer Ribbon Organizer


Junk Food Sushi

There is always some thing going on over at BCD! Every Wednesday I host a "Show and Tell" Linking party so come join in on the fun and show off your very own latest and greatest projects for all of us to enjoy!

Thanks again girls for the great swap! I'm sure your working your magic over on my site! Take care!

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Simple Felt Heart Garland Tutorial



The Land of Nod had these adorable mitten and tree garlands this past Christmas. Did you see them? Fall in love too? Oh, they were so darling. I think what I like most about these garlands is how they were really simple. They were just beautiful pieces of felt sewn on to twill tape.

In the spirit of Valentine's Day and all things pink and hearts--I decided to whip up a simple felt garland a la Land of Nod. This was a fun project to make and could be a really fun family activity. Have each person in your family (or office, classroom, book club) decorate their own heart and make a garland out of them all.

Supplies:
Felt cut into hearts and embellished with buttons, felt designs, embroidery, or glitter.
Twill tape or Ribbon the length you want your garland
Fabric glue or spray adhesive
Embroidery Thread and Buttons (optional)
Sewing Machine and Coordinating Thread
Pins

First, cut out your hearts and decorate, decorate, decorate. I went to my local scrapbook store and used the die cut machine so all my hearts would be the same size. I chose really simple designs because I wanted to keep my heart garland fairly simple--and easy to finish before Valentine's day. I ran out of fabric glue so I just used permanent spray adhesive on my designs. I sprayed the backs of the smaller pieces and just stuck them on my hearts like a sticker. If you have the time and want to, you can also hand stitch the decorative pieces on the hearts.


Next, I pinned my hearts onto my ribbon. I originally pinned them to twill tape, but the twill tape was bleach white and it really was a harsh contrast with my hearts so I switched to cream grosgrain ribbon. I pinned by hearts about every two inches because I had so many hearts and not that much ribbon. You can space your hearts as far apart as you like. Just go with what makes you happy.

After pinning them all onto the ribbon, I used coordinating thread and stitched the hearts onto the ribbon.

After you have all your hearts sewn on, snip off those pesky threads and decorate your favorite wall or mantle.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

personalized wall clock tutorial



Our friend, Rebecca, has this lovely wall clock in her house. The most impressive part about this clock is that she made it herself. She was gracious enough to spend a morning show me how to make my very own, and we documented each step in case one of you also wanted to decorate your walls with a personalized clock.

This may be a project you want to do with friends because it is cheaper to buy all the supplies in bulk (5 or more).

Supplies:
*One wood table top. We found ours at Lowes and picked up the 24 inch piece. We had to drill a hole in our center and route out a place for the clock mechanism. You will need to do this part too.
*One vinyl clock sticker (we bought ours HERE)
*Clock mechanism and hands (we bought ours HERE)
*Paint-three to four different colors. We used linen, spice, cream, and a brown.
*Brushes
*Krylon Clear Coat Spray (either gloss or matte)
*Plastic garbage bags
*Sponge

First, you will need to drill a hole in the center of your wood, route out a space big enough for the clock mechanism and sand the whole piece.


Next, very quickly paint stripes in contrasting colors. Try not to let the paint dry. We did this in brown and linen.


Quickly, use the plastic grocery bags to smudge the paint. Do this by dabbing the bags up and down all over very quickly.


Next, get our your sponges and some more paint. We used cream and spice here. We dabbed the sponge in the paint and applied all over the wood until we were happy with how it looked. If you don't like it, just sand the wood and start over. There really is no wrong way to do this.




Once we were happy with the paint job, we took white and black paint and painted "cracks" or random wavy lines on the board.


Pre vinyl sticker:


After the wood was nice and dry, we applied the vinyl sticker and added the clock mechanism. My vinyl sticker says our Clark Family Est. 1999. You could do anything with your vinyl, or leave it off altogether. For our last step, we applied a clear Krylon spray coat to protect it all. Now it is ready for hanging.


(Note from Mandy: When I saw Stacy's clock in person, I couldn't believe it was made out of wood! It really looks like it's made from a slab of marble--gorgeous. )

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