Sunday, September 16, 2012

GFCF Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake

 This is our new family favorite, and apparently the dog's favorite, too, since we came home to an empty 9x12 pan the first time I made it. She went to the trouble of taking it off the counter and removing the lid from the pan, so it must be worth the effort!

It was based on my carrot cake recipe, but with some modifications to make it a bit healthier, so I can call it a snack and eat it more often. It's easy peasy to make, and puts all of that zucchini to good use if you are sick of zucchini bread.


1 1/2 cups organic sugar

1 cup coconut or sunflower oil

4 organic eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups grated zucchini

3 cups Bob's All Purpose gluten free four (or your preferred mix)

1/4 cup raw cocoa powder (of course you can use regular, but the raw has more minerals and iron)

1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 bag of  chocolate chips (CF for those making this dairy free)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the sugar and oil. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and wisk to mix. Add the zucchini and flour mixture, a cup at a time, alternating each and mixing well. Add chocolate chips and stir. Pour into a greased and floured 9x12 pan (use cocoa for the flour and you won't get white specks on your cake) and bake for around 35 minutes. Use a toothpick to test.

I don't frost it, but you could dust it with powdered sugar, or frost if you are going for a traditional cake. I skip the extra sugar so I can eat extra cake!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lego Towel

This is one of my favorite projects, and it's so easy! I don't have a tutorial, but it's simply an appliqué on a store bought towel (I got mine at Target for $5). I used fleece for the lego head. I chose fleece because it's soft and I had it on hand, but a micro-terry or french terrycloth would work as well. I did a Google search for lego heads and then drew the face on Wonder Bond free hand. I followed this procedure for the appliqué process, but I used a pressing cloth over the fleece (it melts!) and a lot of extra time to get the bond to stick. A little stitching and you have a custom Lego towel! It was Max's birthday present and has endured months of washing and is still going strong.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

DIY BooBoo Ice Pack Cover

Whenever anyone gets hurt, no matter what the injury, the first thing my kids run for is an ice pack. Over time, we've lost one and the cover on the other had seen better days. I figured there had to be a way to make your own, and after a quick Goggle search, I found this recipe.

I used the one with rubbing alcohol, and since I had wintergreen, I didn't need to add food coloring (you don't want anyone to mistake it for plain ice!) It works like a charm!
I took a rough measurement by laying some fleece for a warmer side and PUL fabric (which is waterproof, so the sweat from the ice won't go though the fabric) for the cool side, over the ice pack. Quick and dirty folks, since it is going to be draped over cuts and scrapes! You could use cotton for this as well, but the ice will moisten it after a few minutes.
I pinned the fabrics right side together, on three sides, to make a pocket. I didn't even bother trimming the fleece until after I seamed them together.
Trim the seams and cut the corners close to the stitching. Turn right side out.
Pin the open edges under and topstitch closed. Normally, I wouldn't pin PUL to limit the amount of punctures in it, but the ice pack fits below this area.
I added a plastic snap to keep the ice pack in. You could use a sew on snap, button, or velcro as well. I just have an abnormal attachment to my diaper snap setter (and it's fast! You know I love fast).
That's it! I made two, just in case of double injuries:)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Quick T-shirt Nightgown Tutorial

This is my daughter's favorite type of nightgown, and lucky for me, it's quick to make! It's also a great scrap buster and a fast repurposing of an old t-shirt. What more could you ask for?

After selecting a t-shirt to use (looser fitting tees work better, as you will come to find out in this tutorial), choose coordinating fabrics for the bottom, or even another t-shirt. Madeline selected all of the shirts and fabrics for her nightgowns. You can use one large bottom piece or combine prints, as we do here.

Measure your trim fabrics and sew the pieces together, if using two. Be sure to press the seam open. Since this is a nightgown, and she just HAD to have them right away, I used a lot of cheats. Instead of taking proper measurements, I just held the folded piece of fabric against the hem of the t-shirt and added a bit for the seam.

Another cheat here - instead of measuring and sewing the bottom piece into a tube, I pinned the right side of the bottom fabric to the right side of the t-shirt hem, inserting a pin exactly where the two open ends should come together to form a seam.
I unpinned the piece around the seam, pulled the t-shirt fabric back, and sewed a seam.
I pinned the t-shirt back around the seam and made a seam around the entire bottom of the gown, where the two pieces attach.
I pressed open the seams and added a hem. I zigzag my seams to finish them, but if you have a serger you could do that as well. I would, at the very least, pink them, since nightgowns get washed frequently.
This was our final product, but because the t-shirt is quite fitted, it was too tight for comfortable night ware. Lesson learned - loose t-shirts are better! A refitting was in order.
I cut the bottom part of an old t-shirt that I recently hand dyed, and then cut off the original gray t-shirt a few inches below the waist. I seamed these two pieces together to add ease ( and both are jersey, so no need to finish the seams!), then added the patterned bottom to the new blue panel.
Now the nightgown was loose enough for comfortable movement.
This t-shirt had more ease, so I simply added a slit to the bottom fabric for easier movement. If you use an old t-shirt or two for the bottom layers, as we have also done in the past, you should have enough stretch to skip a slit. With old tees this project takes about a half an hour, with fabric strips about an hour for the first one. A quick and frugal refashion!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Baby Bits

Quiet around here, I know. The combination of pregnancy and my computer crashing didn't help much. I lost a few tutorials, but fortunately I had a fairly recent back-up so once it was fixed, I was able to recover most of my pictures. Lesson learned - keep the back up drive plugged in!

We are still waiting for the little one's arrival, but I thought I would post a few snapshots of some of my little baby projects.

The changing station. I had a changing table for the first two, but this time we saved space with a dresser top changing pad. I've always had a mobile on the table for distracting squiggly babies, but since I had no sides to clip one to and vaulted ceilings, I needed to come up with a different solution.
We added a small shelf to the wall to hold newborn essentials out of reach, so I simply sewed a piece of one inch elastic together to slip around the shelf, ad sewed three twill tape pieces to the bottom. I added snaps to hold pictures or soft creatures (the ones pictured here were cut from a cute Ikea print and stuffed), that can be easily changed out as he gets older or becomes bored with them.

I sewed about a dozen fitted diapers to start us off with (I also have prefolds), using the Rita's Rump pattern. It is super easy, and if they fit well, I think I will sew a dozen more as pocket diapers using PUL on the outside and adding snaps (these will need a cover as they are not leakproof). I just love all of the cute flannel prints!

For me, a glider is just as essential as diapers. We got rid of ours after the kids got older, but my mother found this one on Craigslist for a great price. The chair cushions came out of the wash looking fine, but the footstool was stained. I recovered it using an Ikea canvas curtain panel found at Goodwill for $5. I didn't have enough material to recover the cushions, so I decided on a racing stripe, instead. It was a little tricky maneuvering the cover under the machine, and I did realize that I had reversed the striped piece on the bottom cushion, but that's what you get for sewing at 11 pm when you're pregnant. I can live with it, and eventually I will recover the entire chair (the cushions look beige in this picture, but are actually more of a yellow cover and don't quite go with the rest of the room).

Last but not least, the activity blanket. The top panel was from a dear friend, who hung it above her own daughter's crib. At first I thought of making it into a quilt, but the bright colors and playful pattern just screamed fun, so it became an activity mat. I cut about 8 inches off of the bottom to use as pieces for the rest of the blanket. The inside has a layer of cotton batting and it is backed with a yellow fleece for comfort, and to keep it from sliding on the floor.
This panel was backed with fleece and edged with ribbon tags, since we all know that babies love the tags best.
The alligator piece is attached with elastic to pull on, and the butterflies are covered with a knit fabric to finger. The dotted panel above opens to reveal a parrot.
There is a second flip panel on the top left, and a peek-a-boo fleece door over the lion. The flowers on the bottom left are actually a strip filled with celophane so they crinkle when you grasp them.

Now I'm just trying to convince the little bean to come so he can enjoy his goodies!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Car Seat Transformation

I found a great deal on an infant car seat before we knew that our little one is a little boy. While I don't feel the need to collect everything in blue with baseballs on it, I do know that :
1. DH would never let his son ride in a pink car seat
2. I don't like the print anyway
So I did what any DIY gal would - I recovered it. Yes, I know some people would not feel comfortable with this, but since I simply replaced the top fabric and used the same underlying pads (and actually kept parts of the original cover), I'm okay with it.  Here is the before:
Originally, I had planned to recover the whole seat. But the top portion is a light brown polka dot, and the canopy is also a sort of taupe color, so why do extra work? I found a blue polka dot print at the local quilt store that matched the brown, and I still had about a half a yard of a fabulous cowboy print in the sewing closet, so I combined those with the brown top and reused the same taupe bias tape that came with the chair. I really don't like those safety stickers printed on the top, but time beat out esthetics on this one! I used a similar method as Make It and Love It used for her tutorial.
Here is the result! Recovering the padding was not very difficult. Time consuming, yes, and you'll make good friends with your seam ripper, but not too hard. The worst part was the bias tape, as I used the nylon tape that came with the original seat, and that's slippery stuff! The canopy... well, that's another story.
I kept the original taupe parts and just replaced the pink trim. I thought that would be easy enough. Wrong! The back channel with the blue trim was easy, and adding the red padded trim to the front was also easy, but getting the front channel in to hold the canopy arms, well, that was horrid! I'm sure the nylon was part of it, but I think I ripped that thing out at least three times! The channel is still a little puckered, but I can live with it. I literally spilled my own blood on that part!
I was able to recycle the newborn head rest, too, just swapping out the trim fabric. This was a very time consuming project, and not the most fun sewing in the world, but I am so thrilled with the results! I saved a bunch of money on the car seat and I have one with a print I really adore, not just one I've settled for.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ruched Maternity Tops

I love the look of ruched maternity tops. I am carrying all out front, so if I put on a regular maternity tee, I look like a linebacker. The ruching defines that tummy, so it's obvious that you're pregnant, not fat! However, I had several regular maternity tees (they are usually cheaper and often what you find second hand) that I wanted to wear, so I brought out my favorite sewing trick - elastic thread. Yes, you could use regular elastic for this, but I find I get more consistent results with the thread (I sew on a vintage Bernina, which I adore, but it does not have that nifty three step elastic stitch). I have a more detailed account of how to sew with elastic thread on this post, but here's the quick and dirty:
I started with a plain Jane maternity tee. Sewing on the RIGHT side of the fabric, I made three rows of elastic thread next to each side seam.
I ran the stitches from just above the hem line to three to four inches below the armpit. Once you have sewn both sides, spray with water and then steam iron the stitching. It cinches up like magic!
That's all there is to it! Of course I couldn't stop with just one...
I had total pregnancy brain with this red shirt, and accidentally added my rows of stitching to the back, not the front of the shirt. So, to fix my mistake I just did three rows on the front side of the seam, and three rows on back. It works just fine and gives really nice gathers to the back of the shirt. Instead of a mistake, I prefer to call this a style detail.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Probably. It is still up for grabs, though. The doctor did an ultrasound last week and thought it was a girl. I had the big one today, and the ultrasound tech thinks it is a boy, but she could only see a scrotum, not a penis. The little bean was moving like crazy the whole time. I have a stack of fabric, both male and female prints, but I just can't bring myself to attack the boy stack, yet. We'll see if the nurse midwife wants to do another in office ultrasound at the end of the month. If not, maybe I'll try the new 3D private service in town. Darn. The kids want to know who gets a bunk bed. I want to sew. The baby wants us to wait. And we still don't have a boy name.

Monday, January 30, 2012

In our homeschool, games are a regular part of the curriculum. With an ADD daughter and a son who dreads math worksheets, games are a fun way to liven up a sometimes dull subject. I was inspired by this marble arch game on Pinterest, but made a few changes to make it more versatile.

I used a whole box, minus the lid, so the marbles wouldn't run everywhere. The top and sides are covered with scrapbook paper, because I'm lazy and didn't want to wait for two or three coats of paint to dry. I painted the front with chalkboard paint (sigh, how I love chalkboard paint!), so I can change the numbers depending on what each child is working on. For the example above, you shoot two marbles through the arches and then multiply the numbers. Of course you could add, subtract, or divide the same way. But why stick with whole numbers? You could use fractions, decimals, or negative numbers. You could play with fraction bars, so the child collects the corresponding fraction bars until they have made a whole. You could use pattern blocks to practice geometry and/or cover a pattern block card with a design. You could use coin amounts and have the child collect the corresponding coins until they reach a dollar (or other specified amount). I love having wipe-off games that I can customize to whatever skill is needed!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Log Tutorial

The kids both have this book to keep track of what they are reading this year, so I decided to make one for myself, too. I have several old blank books lying around, so I decided to alter one instead of buying a pre-made log. I also wanted to have a book organized by subject, since I primarily read nonfiction. Lastly, I have lots of supplies I'd like to use up to make room for baby stuff.
I started with this blank book. I sanded the cover since it had a glossy finish. (Sorry, I had to take the pictures at night)
I crumpled up an old map, then applied Distress Ink (brick and burlap) stamp pads directly to the paper.
Spray the paper with water, then crumple again.
You can let the paper air dry, or if you are impatient like me, you can use a heat gun. When it is dry, rub a Distress Ink pad over the paper to highlight the texture. I used Marigold for contrast.
I wrapped the book with the paper, using matte medium as an adhesive. I ran a gray stamp pad over the edges for contrast. The title block is made from scrapbook paper, brad, and a cut out from my sketchbook.
I covered the inside end papers with scrapbook paper, and used extra supplies for the date.
I punched category tabs from scrapbook paper to divide the log by topic. Now let's see who reads more this year, me or the kids...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

For the New Year

This may explain why it has been pretty quiet around here over the last few months. The little bean is doing well and expected on July 7. I'm also starting to feel like a regular human again, so hopefully things will pick up around here.

As for the New Year, have you picked your word yet? Mine is "mindfulness" this year. Ali Edwards is holding a new one little word class at Big Picture Classes, but I signed up last year and never actually did the monthly projects, so I saved them all and have ambitions to do them this time around. After having the kids pour through scrapbooks recently and then ask why there weren't any recent pages about them, I have vowed to try to keep a simple monthly schedule of three layouts this year. Mind you, these will be simple, but that's okay with me. I have plenty of other outlets for design, but I am mostly concerned about recording their stories. I so cherish the pages that I have, and wouldn't have remembered half of those moments if I hadn't recorded them.

The plan? I had a bunch of bags of leftover scrap kit pieces, which I sorted into 12 bags and divided by season. The plan is to use whatever is in there, along with white, black, or kraft cardstock, to create three layouts a month. One will be about Max, one about Madeline, and one will be a family page. Once the baby comes, it will either be one per kid or just an additional page. I'm thinking of printing a page of layout sketches and just choosing from them each month, or keeping the basic layout the same every month and just changing embellishments and patterened paper. We'll see which one is easiest - I'm all about easy right now!

Well, there, I've put it in print. I suppose now I'll have to actually follow through;)