Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Have you seen these at the craft store? (or LP Album Art)

Have you seen these at a craft store and wondered to yourself: "Do people even HAVE LPs (records) anymore? I did. And then I kept on walking. Because we don't.

A few months later, I had a calendar that I was particularly fond of and I realized the frames could be used for other purposes. Here's what I used mine for:

We now have some beautiful wall art that cost me exactly $12 total to create (the frames were on sale). AND it's interchangeable. So when I get sick of the two dragon scenes we have up now, I can pull out some of the others I saved and replace them. Easy peasy. :)

Something else that would be fun is to put a scrapbook page in the frame. If you wanted, you could even embellish the outside of the glass to give it a layered look.

A framing tip:

To keep dust and other junk out from under the glass, I employ a double whammy technique: canned air and glass cleaner. Blow all of the dust and debris off of the inside of the glass, then spray it with glass cleaner and dry thoroughly. This will give you a nice clean surface to look through.

Who knew an LP frame could be so versatile? :)

What have you been up to today?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Got 30 minutes? Let's make a Custom Camera Strap Cover!

I fancy myself to be an amateur photographer.

I love my camera, the Canon Rebel XTi, but the strap that came with it? Not so much.

It's a black strap with CANON EOS DIGITAL embroidered on it in white thread and it's just not my style. I am more of a color person, you know? And as much as I love my camera, I'd rather tell you why rather than be branded by their company logo. It's just a personal preference, really.

So I pulled my trusty old sewing machine and some long scraps of fabric out and commenced the sewing!

The project is really easy and takes about 30 minutes to cut, pin, press, sew, turn out, and press again.

The end result is this!

Picture taken with my cell know, because I was wearing the camera for the picture...

Isn't that better? I certainly think so.

Actually, I was so pleased with the result that I made 5 more.

Not all of the straps are pictured here. Fooled you!

Here's how I made them:

Step 1)  Choose your fabric, measure to double the width of your camera strap plus 1/2 inch (you could just do 1/4 inch seam allowances, but I prefer the extra wiggle room) and the same length as the camera strap plus 1 inch (for 1/2 inch seam allowances on the ends).

You know, I have a tape measure somewhere...I'm going to have to start using it. It would make tutorials a whole lot easier to write! :)

Step 2)  Lay the cut fabric on a flat surface. Fold the ends over and sew to create finished seams on the ends of the camera strap. Be mindful of your stitches and/or use a fancy stitch for this because these seams will be the most visible on your finished project.

Step 3)  Line up the long ends of the camera strap and pin together. I like to pin long pieces like this even when they're straight because it's one less thing to have to pay attention to when I'm sewing. Sew along the long edge of the strap.

Step 4)  Press upon the finished seam along the long edge. You don't have to, but I found that the seams laid down more predictably when I pressed them before turning the strap right side out.

Step 5)  Turn the camera strap right side out. Press the finished project flat. Put onto your camera and enjoy!

I found that making the strap covers just a touch longer than the camera straps they are going on made for a nice fit once the strap was being worn. If you make the cover exact, then it could slip a little bit and leave one end of the strap exposed. Not a big deal, but could annoy others the way it annoyed me at first. Just trying to help where I can!

I've seen some cool variations on camera strap covers. You could add a pocket to hold a memory card or spare battery pack. Or you could add some ribbon or fringe to the edges and make something really fancy! Seriously, this is the most basic of the patterns you will find. Have fun with this and share your ideas with me when you're done!

Monday, June 28, 2010

PARTY POSTING: Rainbow Cake!!

**Told you I'd be making up for lost posts. You get two today--one with a tutorial!!**

You know one of the things that I love about having kids?

Rainbow colored birthday cake.

Isn't it beautiful!?! I love rainbows and I love cake. So it just seemed like a good idea to put one together. I'm glad my daughter had the idea. Got to love the limitless imagination of a 4 year old. :) I was just happy to be able to fulfill the request.

The whole process was a little bit of extra time from a one-color cake and a whole lot of extra mixing, but all around pretty fun.

It looks so innocent in the vanilla frosting, doesn't it?

And it turned out...rainbow-ish. Yeah, yeah, it probably would have helped if I hadn't accidentally reversed the order of the colors when I poured the cake batter into the pans. Know what? It still tasted just as good as if the colors had been in order. So I'll take it!

Here's how: Rainbow Cake Tutorial

Step 1)  Buy a box of white cake mix, vanilla frosting, olive/vegetable oil, and eggs. Also purchase gel food coloring. Must be gel and not the liquid kind we're all used to. GEL, people. That is where the vivid color comes from. I found it at Fred Meyers (Kroger) in Alaska, you can probably find it at some other comparable grocery store where you are.

Step 2)  Preheat oven and prepare the cake batter as directed on the box. Don't forget to only use egg whites or else your white cake will turn out yellow. I don't know if using them would effect the final color of your rainbow cake, but I figure that it's best to start out with a blank slate and opted to make the traditional white.

Step 3)  Split the cake batter into 6 equal portions. You should now have 6 separate bowls of white cake batter.

Step 4) Add the food coloring and mix well. I found that I had to add a lot of red to make the batter not look pinkish while I didn't have to add much blue, purple, or yellow before the color looked right. Just add the food coloring until you have your desired  color.

Step 5)  TAKE THE TIME TO DO THIS STEP! Grease and line with parchment paper two 8 or 9 inch round pans.

I found that even when I followed the directions and let the cake cool completely, the bottoms were still stuck to the pans. Lucky for me, I was planning on icing the cake anyway but if I hadn't then I'd have been really pissed. Save yourself the pain in the ass. Just line the pans ahead of time.

Step 6)  Slowly pour one color of cake batter at a time into the center of the pans.

For a rainbow, use the following sequence:
Pan 1 - Red, orange, yellow
Pan 2 - Blue, green, purple

(For a cake like mine, reverse that order.)

Step 7)  Bake as directed on the box. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pans.

Step 8)  Once completely cool, invert Pan 2 onto a cake platter or plate. Spread frosting on top of the layer.

If the cake puffs up in the middle too much to lay flat on the plate, then you can trim the first 1/4 to 1/2 inch off of the top before inverting the pan.

Step 9)  Invert Pan 1 on top of the frosted first layer using the same method to level the cake as in Step 7.

Step 10)  Frost the cake starting from the middle on the top and working your way to the outsides.

Step 11)  Enjoy your creation!

My daughter cleaned her plate completely, but her brother left this behind:

Yes, those are crumbs on the floor. 
Yes, the dogs liked the rainbow cake, too.

And after all that, if you're still feeling fiesty then you can make cupcakes too!

I love how little bubbles of the other layers of color rose to the surface while the cupcakes were baking. I almost didn't want to cover them with frosting because I liked the effect so much. Then I remembered who I was baking these for...

I don't think the kids at daycare would appreciate the colors on top as much as the frosting so I went ahead and covered this up:

Original un-tweaked recipe can be found here: Omnomicon's Rainbow Cake.

Thomas the Train and Friends partied at my house

Back in May I was all "Let's make as much stuff for the party as we can!" Remember that? Weren't those good times?

Well I was soon brought back to reality from that when one of the kids came down with a sickness. I was busy cleaning up messes, wiping noses, and making a sicky feel better. And then I had to go back to work and face a mountain of stuff that needed to be completed before June 1.

So we went on down to the good old party store and bought plates, napkins, cups, a table cloth, balloons, and most of the stuff for the goody bags. There was no bunting. There were no "I'm the birthday kid!" badges. And the kids still had a whole lot of fun. So those things didn't matter to them as much as they did to me. Go figure.

But! I did manage to make a few things. So as promised, here are a few of the things I made for the kids' Thomas and Friends birthday party.

Ticket Invitation

As you can see, the invitations were shaped like jumbo sized train tickets. I printed them out to be 3 inches wide by 6 inches long. I was hoping to make them actual ticket size, but when I printed them that small the font size was almost unreadable. I think they still turned out really cool. Definitely something for the scrapbooks!

I got the idea from something similar that I saw for sale online when I was looking up games for the party. Since we were aiming to save money, no one had gotten sick yet, and I'm creative I decided to give the idea a shot before dropping any money on buying some.

Ticket invitation version 2: Not chosen

So I made two variations of the ticket invitation and let the kids pick which they wanted to give to their friends. Both kids picked version one. Can't argue with that.

Next I made some signs. My favorite was the big arrow that said "Party Over Here!"

Hey, I think there's a party...over there

I taped it underneath our street sign and called it good. We needed something to make our road stand out because the street sign is camouflaged by tree shrubs (one is pictured to the right of the signs). It seemed to work--no one had any trouble finding us!

I made another sign with our station name, but didn't get a picture before we took it down. Oops!

The party was supposed to be outside, but it rained all weekend so we had to have it inside instead. I had some pony beads set up on one side of the table, coloring books at the head of the table, and foam visors with stickers for the other side of the table. The kids still ran around in circles but it wasn't until after they made something first. Some of the kids worked, ran, worked some more, and ran some more. I have pictures, but don't want to post them because my kids aren't the only ones in them. Just trying to be courteous to the other parents. The main message of this paragraph is that crafts saved the day and my sanity. Crafts are the freaking best, aren't they?

We ate pizza, cake, and ice cream. Here is the cake:

Please, no one send this picture to Cake Wrecks, m'kay?

After I finished the sillouette part and it still looked like a train, I didn't want to mess it up. Not that anyone would have cared but me. Wouldn't that be some funny gossip to listen in on?

"And you should have seen that train wreck of a train cake she was serving at the party, Becky! It looked like she had her 2 year old ice that cake! Who cares that it was served to 2-5 year olds and was eaten in 10 minutes? Simply unbelievable!"

I know the parents that all came to our party and I don't think for a minute that any of them would say that, but isn't it fun to make fun of our insecurities this way? It's always easy to do after the fact. :)

The last fun thing that we did was get a disposable camera that had Thomas and Friends characters and sayings pre-printed on the photo paper. That way we took a picture of each kid, developed the pictures, and then had photos of the kids with Thomas and Friends characters on them to give away with "Thank You" written on the back. Those were a big hit. I recommend shelling out the extra $20 for that. Totally worth it.

So, yeah, we had fun and ate cake. The kids both got way too many presents. They're lucky kids to have so many people that care about them. Thanks to anybody who is reading that came.

Anyone have any good train party ideas?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Make-up posts

I'm going to be posting more often than usual to make up for the posts I haven't posted this month.

Come back tomorrow for the start of the fun!