Saturday, April 25, 2015

Easy Masking Tape Art with my 2 year old!

I have been really wanting to do an abstract art piece with my 2 year old and I have found the perfect way to achieve a clean unmuddy look; MASKING TAPE! It is so simple and the sky is the limit with the designs you choose to mask out.

I choose a simple herringbone design and set to work placing the masking tape down. This part took about 20 minutes and was kind of tedious.

Next you need to chose 3-5 different colors of acrylic paint. I choose cool colors and a bright pop of yellow. WARNING: Acrylic stains, so cover the area with paper towels and have wet wipes ready! I chose acrylic because you don't have to worry about the paint flaking off later on and it looks a little more professional.

I then dabbed the colors randomly over the canvas, handed my daughter the paintbrush and let her go to town. After about 5 minutes she was done.

I then let the painting dry but before I removed the masking tape I chose a few rectangles to add gold accents. Easy Peasy! Then you remove the masking tape and Ta-Da, "Toddler-Made Art"!

A little bleeding when viewed up close, so next time I might chose a differnt painters tape:-)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hexipuff Mania!

If you knit you have probably heard of the famed Beekeepers quilt created by Tiny Owl Knits. This whimsical quilt is created by knitting many (MANY) smaller units, called Hexipuffs, together. The result is a gorgeous patchwork of multicolored yarn that provides tons of warmth.

Living in Southern California we don't really need warm blankets/mittens/scarves because it doesn't get that cold. So I decided to use the Hexipuffs to create a nice cushion for my Rocking Chair. Which is awesome because I only need to knit 30-35!

Here are a few I have already knitted up. I've been using Paton's Kroy Sock Yarn in Meadow and so far I adore the bright happy colors!

This really is a great knit for those who need something small that they can just pick up and work on for a few minutes at a time! Plus there are SO many cute designs and pattern you can knit into them! I'm thinking of adding some cute little hearts myself. Happy Knitting!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Dyeing Yarn with stuff you find in your supermarket!

I had this idea to create a blanket that had 3 panels (which were actually just 3 garter stitch scarves) that were stitched together to form 1 blanket. The border of the blanket was left white (the original color of the wool).

1. Get your wool! The yarn must be WOOL for dying (or at least wool absorbs the color best). Your yarn will NOT absorb as much color if you use an acrylic blend. I have always been found of Patons. It can be found at most major craft stores and the price is right (in case you make a happy accident).

2. Get your dyes and mordants! Now this is the fun part. I went to 3 ethnic stores to find my dyes, an Indian, Mexican, and Japanese. I found 5 different fruits/veggies/spices that I thought could be made into a dye. Tumeric and the Cactus Fruit gave the best colors by far!

Mordants are needed to join the fiber with the dye. If you don't use a mordant your dye can wash out. I used Alum and Cream of Tartar which can both be bought in the spice aisle of most super markets, you can also buy more specialized mordants on amazon. You can reference the EarthGuild for more information on different Mordants.

I would actually love to use dyes found in my environment. I live in a desert-like climate in Socal so that could be really interesting! I just got this book which gives awesome plants/berries to use! Here is one of my new favorite natural dyeing books Harvesting Color!

3. Now you need to make a decision here. Do you want to dye the whole piece of fabric already knitted? OR do you want to dye the yarn and THEN knit it?

I think if you dye the fabric already knitted (like I did) you risk some areas not absorbing the color as much because of parts of the yarn not being exposed to the mordant and dye. However I really wanted to achieve a gradient of color by dipping the different parts of the fabric in the dye. This I think would be much more difficult to do if the yarn was not preknitted.

4. Before you dye the wool you must prepare it using the Mordant. Pre-soak your yarn for 1 hour. In a large seperate pot combine the proper amount of Alum and Cream of Tartar, boil and gently place yarn of fabric into the pot. I did this for about 1 hour. Do NOT swish or agitate the yarn or it will start to felt.

5. NOW for the COLOR! Your yarn is ready! Are you? Get your ingredients together and prepare to make them into gooey ooey mushes! I used a mortar and pestle to help along the way. I would smash until I started to get some good juice going, making it as concentrated as possible. Then I would put the mush through a mesh sieve and put the liquid into a small pot. Then I added as little water as possible to dye the amount of yarn I needed. I wanted the color to be concentrated. Below is Chili Peppers! SPICY!

6. Leave the yarn in the DYE for 30 minutes, the longer the better! Then take out and dry in a shady but warm area.

Well those are the notes I have for now! I am hoping to try some new dying techniques soon. I hope you'll give it a shot and if you have any questions just leave a comment or send a message! You can DYE it!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

From Goodwill Nightstand to Play Kitchen!

This year my daughter's big present from me and her Dadda was a little play kitchen. I had seen a few tutorials and examples on the interent and gathered all the ideas I liked. The harderst part was actually finding a nightstand to use. I checked craigslist but they were usually too expensive. It was when I went to the nearby Goodwill that I found this charmer for 9.99!

Unfortunately the nightstand was too tall for my little girl so we used a jig-saw to cut the top drawer off the table and then reattached the top to the base. Now it is a much better height for the little gal!

The next step was to sand and prime to wood. I used which seems to have worked well so far!

Please forgive me because the last few weeks were kind of crazy so there aren't as many photogrpahs but I will explain everything the best I can. So after priming I taped off the different sections and started with the final matte coats using Behr Premium Plus in Island Oasis and in......

The fun part was adding the fixtures! We used old CD's spraypainted black for the burners (with a matte top coat for protection), a small stainless steel bowl for the sink, a PVC attachment for the faucet, and drawer knobs for the burner dials. I also bought a white magnetic board for the side of the play kitchen, timer, magnets, a push light for the inside oven, and a few pots and pans. These items are best bought at Dollar Stores or my nearby Daiso store. 

The majority of the foods were knitted by me! There are tons of knitted playfood patterns I found at KnittingPatternCentral.

To make the oven door we dettached the drawer front and then cut a square hole. The we used a small piece of plexiglass on the back of the new oven door. To make the cute look more even I added white trim around the edge made of balsa wood. We used to original drawer handle for the oven handle becasue I liked how vintagy it looked. The oven door gave us a bit of trouble the night before christmas because the hinges were not lining up right.  In the bottom picture the oven light is on abd you can see the veggies "cooking".

So hopefully this gives other a few ideas of how to make their own play kitchen! It was a great learning expereince for us and I am excited to see what my daughter cooks up. If you have any questions at all just leave a comment and I'll get back to you!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Jazzing up those Jars

Let's face it, Mason Jars are very durable but a little utilitarian. So for the holidays I began brainstorming SIMPLE ways to dress up the lids of the Mason Jars. Make sure you also include the date of when you canned it on the lid or sticker!

1. Use old Christmas cards! I hate throwing away cards so I have a few really big boxes of old birthday, christmas, and whatever other holiday card.

2. Trader Joes Shopping bags! Have you ever looked at the incredibly cute vintage designs on their bags? Perfect for a lid topper!

3. Wrapping paper! Buy discount wrapping paper from dollar tree and go to town.

4. Scrapbook paper! Find some paper with a snazzy holiday design to jazz up your jars!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Knitted playfood for Annabel!

A few months ago I thought it would be fun to knit my daughter some playfood for Christmas. I was a bit worried about working with DPNs again (the octopus wrangle) but I actually really enjoyed knitting these little projects. It's nice to be able to finish a project every week and let's be honest, she is going to get a lot more use out of these than a sweater in Socal!

I still want to knit her some strawberries, apple, banana, and a fish. Does anyone know of a good fish pattern? 

So I thought I'd link you to the free patterns available on Ravelry! 

Donut: loved this pattern and it gives you do many opportunities to jazz it up with different colored frosting sprinkle beads, or even embroidery sprinkles!

Ice Cream: so many options here! Waffle cone or pointed? Swirled or scooped? 

Squash: gotta have some veggies!

Celery: creative way to use the natural curl of stokinette!

Mushroom: a really quick knit! You could also embroider some spots on the cap!


All of the playfood was knitted on size 4 Bamboo DPNs. I think wood needles are the best for very tiny intricate projects since they "grip" the stitches better. Aluminum needles are just so slippery!

I use Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (worsted) for most of the food. They have a wide variety of colors to choose from and I just love the consistency of their yarn.

I use polyfill stuffing which is washable! When stuffing take lots of little fluffy clumps and pack in tight!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cran-Apple Butter for the Holidays!

It's that time of the year where many are whipping up delicious delicacies in their warm cozy homes in hopes of sharing them with sweet friends and family. I've always been a sucker for homemade gifts, edible ones even more so!

The wonderful thing about this recipe, and like many other fruit butters as well, is that it can be made in a crock pot leaving you time to tidy the house, wrap gifts, or knock back a few glasses of Pino Grigio. What you do with those extras hours of free time is up to you!

Now this Cranberry Apple Butter pulls double duty in my book. It's savory enough to be used with meats (turkey, pork, or chicken) yet sweet enough to be plopped atop an english muffin slathered in buttah.

Also! In the past 3 weeks I have had 3 different kinds of Holiday sandwiches at Publix, Earl of Sandwich, and Trader Joes! Don't judge I was on vacation. Have you heard about Holiday Sandwiches?! No? Well allow me to elaborate. Holiday sandwiches feature ingredients usually leftover from epic Turkey Day feasts. They may sounds something like this: thick sliced turkey, apple and sage stuffing, with swiss cheese, mayonnaise, and cranberry sauce piled onto hearthy whole wheat bread.

I promise there are cranberries under all those apples.

Aha! See there they are! This is what your Cran-Apple Butter will look like after 15-20 minutes. 
You may even hear the little cranberries popping! Give the pot a good stir every few minutes to prevent any fruit from scorching. 

At the end of the 45 minute cooking time you will end up with a blushed colored mush of cranberries and apples. Mmmm.....Brains! 

Now I moved my crockpot bowl right next to the stovetop so I could easily transfer the mush into the mesh sieve. For me this was the most time consuming part of the recipe since it required mashing everything through the sieve. But that silky smooth fruit butter is worth it!

Mash em, boil em, stick em in a stew!

This is what you fruit butter should look like (like the pink slime from Ghostbusters).

Once the Cran-Apple Butter is done thickening in the crock-pot you can ladel it into jars and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

 Recipe: Cran-Apple Butter
Adapted from Aimee Wimbush-Bourque from

5 lbs of Fuji apples (cored and halved)
1 1/2 lbs of cranberries (I used Trader Joes)
1 cup of maple syrup
1 1/2 cups of apple cider
1 TBS of Saigon Cinnamon

Combine cored and halved apples and cranberries into a large pot. Add the 1 1/2 cups of apple cider and bring the heat up to medium. Stir the mixture every few minutes to distrubute heat and prevent scorching. After 15-20 minutes everything should start looking more mushy and you will notice a lot of liquid is now in the pot.

At this point turn the heat to medium-low and cover for 45 minutes. Give the pot a good stir every 5-10 minutes. Once everything looks like a big gooey mess you will mush it through the seive into your crock pot.

Now that you have a smooth velvety cran-apple butter in your crockpot you can add your sweetners. I think pure maple syrup adds a really warm flavor but you can also use honey. Add cinnamon. Stir well and set crockpot to low. Let sit for 4 hours. For the final hour prop lid open to allow butter to thicken.

While the cran-apple butter is cooking it is a good idea to prepare your jars by sanatizing them in a boiling water bath. The same bath with which you will process your jars for 20 minutes after being filled.

Finally fill your jars to 1/4 inch below rim, place lid on and tighten the ring. Place all jars back into the water-bath and bring water back to boiling. Once water is boiling you can start your 20 minute timer. After 20 minutes remove your jars and listen for those sweet little pings of delight! Bam, done!