Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baking with Toddlers - What I've learned so far

Before kids I used to cook and bake all the time (most of the time successfully).  Now the hubby luckily does all the cooking, but I still feel the need to bake something every week.  The urge especially hits me once fall comes around.  Ever since the girls have been able to stir pudding, they've been helping me.  I can't measure something without one of them pulling up a stool and trying to "help".  We made some chocolate graham crackers for Halloween recently and I realized there were a lot of things I could be doing to make the experience less stressful for me and more understandable for them.

1.  Portion out the ingredients before letting them into the kitchen.  Once we get started, all they want to do it throw stuff in and get to the stirring part.  If I get everything ready and learn the recipe steps first, there's a lot less "wait" and "don't touch that yet".  So save some stress and portion out your ingredients all fancy like a cooking show.  Also make sure you have plenty of workspace ready that can get messy.

2.  Pick recipes without eggs, or accept that they will eat the batter/dough.  When we first started baking together the egg part was super stressful for me.  Now they are finally old enough to know once the egg goes in, it's too late for testing.  But of course they still sneak some, and I try to let it go.  There are pasteurized ones if it's a major concern.  Pudding, graham crackers, and pumpkin brownies (pumpkin + brownie mix) are all great things to make without using eggs.

3.  Assign tasks before hand.  If what is going to happen is clear to the kids before hand, there's slightly less fighting.  They each get their own spatula or whisk for stirring and their own ingredients to add.  When multiple children are involved, it's best to let them each have there own space away from the other.  Let one mix the wet ingredients and one do the dry.  Also make sure they are aware of the rules before you start to make baking safe, like hands away from the big mixer and no one near the oven.

4.  Give them some of the dough to experiment with.  When I was rolling out the dough for cutting, they wanted to help.  But they aren't really ready for rolling dough correctly yet and it became a struggle between us all.  That's when my husband stepped in and reminded me that we didn't need all of the dough made into crackers, and it wouldn't hurt to let them learn with some while I finished making the rest.  I got to make some decent crackers and they got to go wild.  Win/Win.

5.  Let them decorate some of the results.  This is my favorite part.  Kids love creating art and decorating food is just another way for them to express themselves.  Sprinkles are always a favorite but they are super messy.  I love giving the girls tubes of icing to draw with instead.

look at that concentration...and messy face :)

Here are some of our results from the night.  We used this recipe, and I would highly recommend it!  Tasted like chocolate teddy grahams.  

So these are just some thoughts that I've had lately, I'm sure I've forgotten something.  If you have any other tips for baking/cooking with toddler, please leave a comment!  I'd love to know what works for you.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

KCW - Final Day

With Halloween less than a week away, I used the final day of Kids Clothes Week to get some costumes underway.  I spent more than just an hour on them (goal of KCW is hr/day), but all in all they were pretty quick.

I started out with Peter Pan.  I used the recess raglan pattern for the top, just extended to tunic length with zig zag the hems.  The leggings were made from tracing some leggings the girls already have.  I made the hat out of felt following a tutorial over at Make it and Love it.  I also made a felt belt with D-rings but forgot to photograph it (updated - added pic).

Tinkerbell took a bit more time and thought.  I started out with the recess raglan pattern again to make an undershirt since it may be cold trick-or-treating.

Then I hacked apart a women's ribbed tank and added sequins and trim to make a Tinkerbell bodice.  The skirt is a bunch of satin leaves sewn to elastic sequin trim, and lain on top of a tulle underskirt.  Pretty straight forward, yet took me all day of starting and stopping and fittings.

I can't wait for trick-or-treating pictures!  It will be our first time participating!

Also linked at:
Take a Look Tuesday

Saturday, October 26, 2013

KCW Day 5/6 - Skinny Jeans

So I've tried pretty hard this time around to sew up a finished garment and post as soon as possible for this fall round of Kids Clothes Week, but it's just not happening.  It can be tough sometimes to make time for pictures.  Here's a peek of some skinny jeans I've sewn up for the girls.  The pattern is by Peek-A-Boo patterns.  

In case you're wondering, the fish didn't bite.  It was just stocked and we could see the fish looking at our bait.  Next time we'll get ya!

And this is the other pair I'm almost finished with.  One last day of Kids Clothes Week left to motivate me to finish!

Friday, October 25, 2013

KCW Day ? - Shirt Painting

Who likes super fuzzy phone pics?  cause that's all I've managed to get for some of the items I've worked on lately for Kids Clothes Week.  I didn't sew the shirts above, but I gave them some Halloween spirit with some paint! 

These came about after I asked the girls what they wanted to be for Halloween.  I've received a different answer every day since.  Note to self, don't ask when there are too many options.  Decide for them.  But I have heard a few times from one of them that she wanted to be a spider.  I don't believe her since she runs from real spiders, so I didn't really want to commit to that costume.  Instead I decided to make her a spider shirt.  I was planning on taking a black tee that she owned already and sew some white yarn to it, but I came across a different idea while searching - bleach writing!

I started off by shoving some cardboard inside the shirt and drawing a basic web design with some chalk.  I didn't have a bleach pen, so I just dipped a q-tip into a bowl of bleach and traced back over my chalk drawing.

I wasn't sure how I felt about the look but I kept going with it.

And this is what it looked like when I finished.  The bleach had turned the black into an orange-red color that was ok, but not what I wanted.  Plus my web was dominating the shirt a bit so I was worried this was a FAIL.  After a couple minutes I washed it with soap and man, what a difference!  It suddenly turned more white, though leaving a little orange tint in places.  Much better!

This shirt was made for my girl who is always running around the house with a cape yelling "I'm Batman" and telling me random things about bats, like how they use sound to help Diego through the maze (see, tv can be educational...sometimes).  I used some black and orange fabric paint and freehanded this with a tiny brush while watching tv.  I normally would made a freezer paper stencil for this project but I was too lazy.  Luckily it turned out well even though I'm not much of a painter.

I also painted a couple other items - here's a sneak peak. 
I hope to make one more, take some quality pics, and possibily type up a tutorial - we'll see!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Project Sewn - Signature Style for Fall

Coming in close to the wire is my sew-along look for Project Sewn's final week - themed Signature Style.  My signature style for the fall season usually includes lots of skinny jeans paired with boots (which my husband dubs the "robin hood look") and layers.

Ever since they announced the theme I knew I would try to sew up a peplum variation of the Coffee Date Dress.  What better way to end this season of sewing along then to finish with the same pattern we all started with.  I just love the pattern and the ruffles.  I've worn a shirt with some sort of ruffle on it every day this week, so I know it's my thing.  Since I already made the dress, I was confident in giving a go at a shirt.  This is the only peplum shirt I have so it's a nice change to my wardrobe.

The fabric is some floral linen I had left over from my Tinny Flip

I sewed up the bodice according to the pattern and then attached a circle skirt to it.  I got crazy and experimented with my rolled hem presser foot for the first time to make the bottom a little flowy/bouncy.  Not sure if I'll do it again unless I have to - it was so much work!  I thought it would take less time but it took a lot more concentration.

I also whipped up a slouchy knit hat for the look.  I've used the pattern to make gifts, but this is the first one I've decided to keep.  It's a really fun and easy hat to make if you like knitting and purling over and over.

Back shot.  I'm pretty happy with my invisible zipper skills lately.

I had planned to make some purple skinny corduroys for this look but I didn't receive my pattern in the mail in time.  I'll still make them soon since I need some new pants for my boots.

Welp.  That concludes my Project Sewn sewing along this season.  It's always gratifying to make something for myself, especially when someone compliments it and then freaks when you say you made it.  Looking forward to the next season!

Also - the other sew along looks can be found here - check em out!

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

KCW Day 2 - 2nd Bimaa!

So you can't have too much of a good thing, right?  Because after sewing two Bimaa sweaters I'm hooked.  The reviews of this pattern are spot on.  I'm so glad I got it as part of the sewfab bundle I purchased.  All the parts fit smoothly together and the arm and waistbands are the perfect size.  I'm also super glad to have a serger now - helped me finish the second shirt in less than an hour!

I made this one with a fun cat printed baby rib knit that I bought months ago but just never got to sewing up.  The girls love cats and I asked them to pic their favorite one.  I think they settled on the one with a fish :)

I love the cowl neck version of this pattern but I have a feeling that the girls will love the hoodie more.

I was also able to get some better pictures of the first Bimaa I made on Monday.

I love the thin sparkly knit with the funky zebras.

Hope everyone else is having success with Kids Clothes Week!  I may slow down now, we'll see...

Also linked at:
Make it Wear it

Fall KCW - 1st Bimaa!

Fall Kids Clothes Week started Monday!  This is the week were it seems like everyone who blogs about sewing is able to complete an outfit or more a day and I wonder how in the world they do it.  The week is supposed to be about dedicating an hour a day to sewing/creating for your kids and I'm going to try to stick to that rather than lose my mind.

So my goals are to sew up a Bimaa shirt (or two) and at least one pair of Skinny Jeans.  I had printed and cut out my patterns on Sunday, so I was ready to start cutting fabric and sewing on Monday.  I started with a Bimaa - the cowl neck version.  I've seen so many awesome versions out there already and everyone raves about how quick and easy it is so I was pretty excited.  They are not wrong!  It turned out so great!  I used a zebra thermal for the shirt and black knit with sparkly gold flecks for the cowl.  The arms and waist are black ribbing.  I should've pattern matched a little better at the seams - I centered a line of zebras down the middle instead.  There are a few decapitated zebras and random appendages...oh well!

I was not able to get the best pictures since it was almost bedtime.  The shirt took a little longer than it should have because my serger was not loving me.  I had to keep threading and checking it and I have no idea why it was being so finicky.  I finally gave up (though I was almost finished) and went for a run to get the kids, even though I already ran that day for exercise.  I was just that stressed and angry with the machine.  Running with the girls did the trick!  I came home and fixed the thread one last time and it was smooth sailing.  The pattern really is that straight forward and fun to sew!  

I plan to sew another Bimaa in a fun cat print.  Hopefully all with go well and I can get decent pics this week of the girls in them together! 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Flipped Sunki


Oh my, the Sunki dress is so cool!  I'm glad it was the pattern to be FLIPPED in October over at FrancesSuzanne, but man was it tough to flip.  I like the design already as is - the racer back-like front and pockets, the pleated sleeves, and wrap over shoulder seams.  So my changes to the pattern were very minor.

First I decided to make the back zipper extend the entire length of the dress and be exposed.  I also added some blue piping to define it.

Isn't the fabric so cool?  I bought it at JoAnn almost a year ago.  It's thin corduroy in a crazy animal print.  You know how they usually ask you what you're using the fabric for when they cut it?  Well the lady cutting it thought it was pretty ridiculous and gave me the side eye for saying it would be for toddler apparel.  She said "well I guess kids look cute in anything".  So true.  But I also think you can make any fabric look good with the right pattern.

The contrasting pocket fabric is Violet Craft, Waterfront Park, Reflection Luna from the Fabricworm.  The pockets were the most difficult part of the pattern instructions to figure out.  They are also accented with blue piping.  I'm glad instagram folks talked me into taking apart the seams I had already finished and adding it!

The other minor change I made to the pattern was to add a stand up overlapping collar.  I wanted it to echo the shoulder overlap and add to the structural urban design of the dress.  Also - I switched the overlap of the shoulder seams to the front over the back so the lines wouldn't compete with the collar.

It was a little tough to photograph.  I maybe should've used the contrasting fabric?  This little one wasn't tough to photograph though.  Give her a tiara and suddenly she's hamming it up. 

And asking me to get a picture of her "being nice" with her sister.  

So there's my FLIP!  Check out the others sewing along here.

Also linked at:
Take a Look Tuesday

Saturday, October 19, 2013


My little babes are 3!  They started off their birthday celebration last month with surprise donuts and candles to blow out when they woke up.  I really could've stopped there they were so thrilled.  But then I wouldn't get to make a bunch of stuff so we had a pretty big party that weekend.  This post is a little recap of some of the things I threw together.  I really wish I had better pics, but at least I got a few!

If you have been following on instagram you may have seen the several birthday project pics I posted.  I really could have kept going and creating but had to cut myself off.  It all started when they settled on a theme - knights and princesses.  and dragons.  and unicorns.  and rainbows were also requested.  I tried to hit them all without going crazy.

So of course we started off the party with a castle - a bouncy castle!  We had this thing for a couple days because it rained that night and they wanted us to keep it until it dried.  They loved their personal  bounce house!  It was humongous - with a giant slide.  I always thought it was weird when people rented bounce houses, but I get it now.  Perfect activity for their age and really fun (even for adults when no one's watching).

I've been told that 3 year olds are really into pretend and dress-up, so I knew right away I wanted all the kids at the party to have knight and princess outfits.  I didn't have time to make a bunch of puffy princess dresses, so I went with no-sew tutu's - my fav to make.  The knights received purple tunics made of felt and ties at the waist with fun ribbon.  Girls were encouraged to be knights too!

I have a thing for party hats, so I ordered some knight hats and made a bunch of princess hats to decorate with stick on jewels.  That was a lot of hot glue fun for me creating the hats!  Last year's hat is still my favorite though - a shark!

There were also plenty of necklaces, rings, and rainbow hair extensions too.

The kids also went home with some foam swords/shields and a mini dragon for their adventures.

Too much?  maybe, maybe not enough :)

Last I want to share is the cake!  I love making (and eating) birthday cakes.  Here's the one from their 1st birthday - Rainbow Cake

And their 2nd - Ariel/Shark Themed 
(that was chocolate with salted caramel icing - yum!)

And this year's cake - Purple stars, rainbows, and a Unicorn 

This isn't exactly the cake I had in mind, but it was what they requested.  Actually, they requested a rainbow cake but I already did that 2 years ago and I didn't feel like repeating it.  The cake was apple with apple pie filling and salted caramel icing.  I have a thing for salted caramel.  It goes with anything!

The kids actually got their own little cupcakes.  Hard to see, but I used food spray paint to make ice cream cones silver and filled them funfetti cake mix.  They were topped with whipped cream, rainbow sprinkles, and chocolate unicorns.  In my mind the ice cream cones were castle towers and the whipped cream was a cloud.  I loved how the cupcakes were baked into the ice cream cones.  It was a little less messy I think.

We also made some blackberry ice cream with colored sugar sprinkles mixed in - aka purple princess ice cream.  They love purple right now, if you couldn't tell already.  

I wish I got more pictures of the decor and the food, especially the fruit wands (fruit on bamboo skewers with a watermelon star).  We had so much fun with all of our friends even though it poured much of the time and everyone was stuck in our tiny house.  The girls loved having all of their friends over and especially the part where they got to blow out a candle again!  

Can you believe they used to be less than 5 lbs?  Which is why I'm so happy to see them grow and thrive :)