Felting? Felting.

I never really got why people were interesting in felting. You can buy felt! And it's not that great. Today, though, I took a class at the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo at the Raleigh Convention Center (It is there through tomorrow, June 22) that was pretty fun. Fun enough that I bought the tools and now I guess I have another hobby.

I took a class with Cindy Losekamp called "Shimmering Landscapes." We started with a picture like this:
that was printed with an inkjet printer on 24 lb. copy paper. Once copied, Cindy laid it on top of a silk chiffon fabric and spritz it with water. The image transferred onto the chiffon.

We then laid the chiffon on a piece of wool batting and selected some bits of combed wool. We also used a few strands of a shimmery threadlike substance called Angelina.

Then we just laid the wisps of wool and the chiffon and started poking it with this bad boy:

Eventually, the fibers were felted into the chiffon and this is what I made: 

Not too bad for a first try! 
Here is the original beside my interpretation:

Stay tuned for more felting and for the big unveiling of the hand dyed scarf I made. It is still dying!

Help! I Have an Ugly Couch

I have an ugly couch. We got it from the thrift store so it has to be ugly apparently. Why don't you cover it you ask? Well it's a recliner sofa and they just don't make slipcovers for those. So I would have to completely recover it. My schedule clears up quite a bit in August (I'm graduating in July!!) so I will have time then to do some recovering. But I want to get it ready now. So what are your thoughts? We're newly weds so spending a bunch of money on fabric isn't really an option. I was thinking maybe buy painter's canvas since it comes in huge sheets and dye it? I don't know...HELP!!

Sour cream coffee cake with streusel topping

One of the recipes my husband brought to our family was his mother's coffee cake. Now, the recipe was a hand-me-down to her, and she wasn't sure where it came from, either—possibly a newspaper? But it's become a tradition in our family to make this coffee cake (or as we call it, cinnamon bread, since we don't drink coffee and I'd rather not serve "cake" for breakfast) as often as we can.

Coffee Cake
Coffee Cake by Mr. T in DC, on Flickr
via CC license
Of course, my favorite story about this recipe is the time I submitted it to a local church cookbook, and they printed my Sour Cream Coffee Cake recipe . . . without sour cream.


  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 T softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c baking mix (like Bisquick)
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 2 T firm butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8x8 glass or metal baking pan.

2. For the cake, in a mixer or medium mixing bowl, beat the sugar with the butter until combined. Beat in egg, sour cream and vanilla. Add Bisquick and stir until combined. Pour into prepared pan.

3. For the topping, combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Using two forks, a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs or wet sand. Sprinkle over cake batter in pan.

4. Bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Next time, I'll share a variation on this recipe I made for Father's Day!

What's your favorite breakfast tradition?

Ornament Storage Box

Each of the girls has a collection of Christmas tree ornaments that began when they were born and grew each Christmas. At some point I purchased red and green plastic ornament bins for each girl. Though these held the ornaments well for many years, they were not suitable for mailing. I had to find other ways to send Jordan and Jaime their ornaments. (The plastic bin was perfect to take to Brooke's house.) Since I had a little more time on my hand with Jasmine's ornaments, I decided to create (or re-create) a box to hold the ornaments.

I bought a decorative box at Michaels-- the ones that are covered with pretty paper and have a magnetic flap closure. It was pretty, but it wasn't Christmassy. I also bought 12 x 12 scrapbook paper to cover the box.

Before I started decorating the box, I needed to make some partitions. I decided to make 2 layers and cut enough posterboard strips to make them. Notice how I notched the strips. They slipped together easily. I put a piece of posterboard between the layers.

Now I was ready to decorate. I painted the top with  a collage glue. I chose matt finish this time.

I added layers and borders because my box was larger than the papers. I used a contrasting paper for the sides.  After the first coat was dry, I added a second coat.

I found a pretty B and printed the outline of mirror image on the back of printed paper. I actually did two, because I was going to make a shadow. I didn't like how it looked, so I just used 1 letter.

I carefully decoupaged it on the lid. (I put the other one on the inside.)

Done! Now I just have to mail it!

Waterproofing Matches

Remember when I said I'd post something about waterproofing your matches and I still haven't? Well, surprise! That's what today's post is about. We waterproofed matched because they were going to be next to food and I didn't want anything to taste weird or the matches be impacted either. This is also good for a summer post since grilling out and camping trips that happen in the summer typically require fire. It's rather easy to waterproof your matches.
You need a candle or wax and matches.
 Let the candle burn for a while so you have plenty of melted wax to work with. Or melt wax in a small dish. This doesn't have to be very deep. We used a tea candle.

Then dip the match's tip into the melted wax. Make sure you coat all of the tip. I got some of the stick to just to make sure it was coated completely. The dip in the wax doesn't need to last too long either and one coat works just fine. Make sure you don't ignite the match while dipping in the candle.
Then let dry. My mom and I stuck them in holes we had punched in a graham cracker box so they would dry rounded and undamaged. Since it's wax, they dry and cool very quickly.
And you're done. See, told you it was super easy.

Father's Day at Brave Brooke's House

I have an equation for birthdays and father's day around here. Something he needs, something he wants, and something sentimental. These are some of the things I was thinking about for this father's day. He's not getting all these but these are my ideas.

Something He Needs

Something He Wants
Shaving kit to go along with this

Something Sentimental
I was thinking of a sign that said "Daddy is our Hero" and putting a space for pictures of our kids (even though there is only one picture filling it this year)

What are you getting your Main Guy?!

Chocolate chip maple pecan pie

So, hey, my first book came out last week. But we're gathered here today not to go and buy my book (though I totally won't say no if you want to!), but to celebrate with FOOD. Not just any food: PIE.

Chocolate chip maple pecan pie. Maple chocolate chip pecan pie. However you want to arrange it, it. is. DELICIOUS.

And not only is this amazing pie . . . well, amazing, but it's also featured in my book.

My pie
Both yummy

The pie was inspired by a real pie, made at a real restaurant. My characters get to visit Wilfrid's, the totally awesome restaurant at the (Fairmont) Ch√Ęteau Laurier (amiright, Jaime?). Yep, I've been there—but I'm pretty sure they didn't have this dessert at the time, a specialty of Chef Ernst's.

Since Ottawa is a bit far away right now, I made the pie at home. It's good chilled, but let me tell you: eat it warm. Nuke it if you have to. YES.

adapted from Pioneer Woman's Pecan Pie recipe. kind of a lot of adaptation
  • 1/2 c granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 c + 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 c corn syrup
  • 1/2 c maple syrup (the real stuff! You can really play around with the levels here, swapping corn syrup for maple—but you'll want more than 1 oz of maple syrup, which is all I had on hand when I made the recipe!)
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 c salted butter, melted (and somewhat cooled so you don't scramble the eggs)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 c pecan halves, plus more pecan halves for the top layer (~20)
  • 3/4 c chocolate chips
  • pie shell (being me, I also made this by hand, but that's optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Microwave the 3/4 c pecan halves just until warm, then crush or chop them. (This releases more oils and flavors. Or something. I made this recipe up a year ago, and I did a ton of research at the time, okay?)
  3. Line a 9" pie pan with a pie crust. Pour the chopped pecans and chocolate chips into the bottom of the crust, shaking to settle them in an even layer
  4. Mix the sugars, syrups, vanilla, melted butter and beaten eggs in a bowl. (I actually put the chocolate chips in here, but it doesn't matter which way you do it.)
  5. Place the whole/half pecans (neatly & prettily!) on top of the chopped pecans & chocolate chips in the pie shell
  6. Slowly pour the filling mix in the pie shell
  7. Gently shake the pie from side to side to make the pecan halves float
  8. Arrange the nuts with a toothpick to make a pretty pattern, spell your name, ask someone to marry you (uh. Don't think you'll have room for that. But you can ask out loud, and then celebrate with pie!)
  9. Gently cover the exposed crust with foil
  10. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil. Bake 20 more minutes, or until set.
  11. Let cool (if you can).

Also included in my instructions from testing the recipe: mop, shower. I don't think the pie was that messy to make, but you never know....

When I measured the syrups together, they made some really cool patterns, probably because of viscosity differences:
Look closely if you have to
And, um, PIE.

What's your favorite pie? Or book? Or book with pie in it? Or pie to read books by?

Blue's Clues Party- contd.

Today I'm super excited to show you PB's cute shirt as well as how I only paid $6.51 for favors for 10 kids and how I incorporated the Blue's Clues theme into our food.

A couple nights before the party I went a little crazy with the puff paints as you can see here and with PB's t-shirt. I first went to buy it at Michael's and they were $6 and sold out. I went over to Target and got a toddler boys shirt for $4. They didn't have any girl's shirts without a picture on the front.
Seriously, could this kid get any cuter? Maybe I'm biased :)
 I did an online search for "Blue's Clue's birthday coloring pages." I found this image and printed it out. I put a piece of stiff cardboard and the image inside of the shirt. I had a bit of a hard time seeing through the shirt but I outlined using the puff paints and used a small paintbrush to fill in the larger areas. I had a color copy of Blue on hand to I could make sure that I was using the right colors and getting the details right.
For the back I free handed the outline and again filled it in with a tiny paintbrush.

I couldn't have been more happy with how these favors turned out. I first went to the Dollar Store and bought two bags of bubble gum and 4 3-packs of bubbles.

For the bubble gum I counted how many pieces I had and divided it by 10. I got 10 snack bags and filled them.

 I got all of the air out the bags as I sealed them. I cut 10 pieces of 3.5"X 3.5" and folded them in half. I took each bag and folded it in half width-wise.
I slipped the folded piece of paper over the top and stapled the left and right side. I labeled each bag with a child's name.

For the bubbles I measured how big of a label I needed to cover. I went into my photo editing software and whipped up these beauties.
Feel free to add your child's name and use these! I took PB's name off so you could easily do so!
I cut them out and taped them onto the bubbles.

In total:
2 bags of bubble gum $2
3 1/3 packs of bubbles: $3.33
2 color copies: $.1.18
Total: $6.51 or $0.65 per favor :)


Since Blue is well Blue I decided to make our food have a blue twist. We had blue raspberry lemonade.

We had blue licorice (thank you Dollar Store for carrying blue candy).

We had blue speckled cupcakes with blue and white polka dotted cupcake liners.
I know that Funfetti cake is just cake with sprinkles so I bought blue sprinkles and added them to the cake. 
If you have watched the show a many times as we have you know that Steve loves anything banana-flavored. In one episode them make banana muffins and he gets super excited. I made some from scratch and labeled them as such.

I also served fruit, veggies, chips, and mini pizzas. The mini pizzas we let everyone make for themselves. We had BBQ chicken and regular pepperoni. There is no need to let people make them for themselves. Almost everyone wanted pepperoni, a couple wanted plain cheese, a some wanted BBQ.

Check out the invitation and more fun details about the party!

I hope you guys have a great weekend and this inspired you with ideas on how to have a simple show-themed kids party! 

PB's 2nd Birthday Party- Blue's Clues

Once I looked back through I pictures I determined I definitely didn't take enough! I will just have to describe parts of the party for you, sorry! Our camera ran out of card space in the middle of opening presents so some of the time was missed waiting for the card to empty.

So first of all when I was planning this party since it is centered around a show I knew I wanted to bring in the characters. I made a list of the characters and how I would represent them at the party.

  • Blue and Magenta- stuffed animals we had on hand
  • Mailbox- decorated our mailbox
  • Tickety- Sign on front door
  • Steve- Daddy dressed up (he happened to have a similar green stripped shirt and khakis on hand :) )
  • Shovel and Pail- I purchased from Michael's for $1 (I had to buy a yellow and red bucket to get the ones I wanted but that was okay who doesn't need more sand buckets!?)
  • Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper- inexpensive salt and pepper shakers.
Acrylic and Puff paints helped me put the faces on all of characters. 

I traced a paper plate and sketched the rest before filling it in with acrylic paints
Confession time: I never took a picture of good ole' mailbox and forgot to for a few days until it had rained on him. His colors were more vibrant on party day and there were blue polka dotted balloons tied to him. 
Sidewalk Art
To also bring in the characters and bring some excitement to the party I drew fun things on the sidewalk leading up to the house.

I forgot to get good pictures of the decor other than the characters but similar to last year I used Dollar Store table clothes and ribbon. This year to go along with the color theme I used red and yellow table clothes. In our eat-in kitchen behind where PB would be sitting to eat her cake and get pictures taken I put a red table cloth on the table and I used two table cloths as pseudo-curtains with red ribbon tie backs.. I felt like it went along with the Blue's Clues theme. I also used the table cloths on the counters and the dining room table.

Here you can see the side of the pretend curtains. As well as a tiny bit of the banner I got at the Dollar Store. 
You can see the decorations a little better here

I also got helium-filled balloons which I won't be doing again. First of all they are not noticed because they are above eye-level and by the next morning they were all on the floor and half way deflated. No need to waste the money next year! What do you think about getting balloons for a party? I paid less than $10 for all of the balloons but just less thing to think about is better!

See that super cute shirt PB is wearing? I'll show you how I made it tomorrow, as well as how I only spent $6.51 on favors for 10 kids, and how I incorporated the Blue's Clues theme into the food. See you then!

Want to see the invitation for the party

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