Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Twice the Fun

I realize that my last post was about babies and so is this one, but it seems I'm surrounded by pregnant friends right now. My good friends, one of which just happens to be the youth minister at church, are preparing to welcome two bundles of joy next month. That's right ... twins!!

So, of course, a few of us felt this was the perfect opportunity to shower them with love with a double dose of fun and a church-wide shower. 

I've only helped with a few church-wide showers but I've attended a ton. The tricky part with them is that you sometimes have no clue how many people will show up, and they aren't very conducive to the typical "shower games." But, that doesn't mean you can't have a little fun!

There were quite a few of us planning this particular shower, and it could not have happened without the help of each and every one! Since we were expecting twins, we decided to go with a Noah's Ark theme of "two by two."

My friend, Julie, and I took on the task of food and some special decorations. We wanted to be cost efficient but still throw a great party. Thanks to the Dollar Tree and Sam's Club, we were able to do just that. 

I found some really cute pastel animal napkins at the Dollar Tree, which we paired with clear plastic plates and cups. Because she is having a boy and a girl, we decided cupcakes from Sam's Club (which are yummy) -- some with blue icing and others with pink icing -- paired with blue and pink punch would be perfect.

Also, I bought some simple supplies for Julie and I to get ambitious and make cupcake stands, including: foam board, foam squares and wrapping paper. Because we knew we wanted the blue cupcakes on one and the pink on another, we made two stands. We cut the foam boards down so there were three layers and wrapped them and the foam squares in yellow wrapping paper. 



Then, we hot glued the entire thing together for a three-tiered cupcake stand!



The next craft project was cutting out "raindrops" to hang from the doorway. I somehow didn't take pictures of this process, but it was very simple. We used varying shades of blue and cut out a raindrop template, which basically looked like a tear drop. From there, we just traced and cut. Once done, I used a teeny tiny hole punch to put a hole in the top of each and strung fishing line through them so they would hang. I also used a little bit of scotch tape to ensure they stayed in place on the fishing line. On the day of the shower, we hung them from the doorway.


Because the air was blowing them, they even had some movement to them!


For food, we went with the "animal" theme and kept it simple. From Sam's, we bought animal crackers, gummy bears and goldfish. We had two tables of food -- a blue and pink side. And, at the last minute, someone thought to bring Zebra cakes, which were a perfect addition.

You might notice the plastic cups on the bottom of the cupcake stand. Once all the cupcakes were on, we decided they needed a few reinforcements, but they still worked great
















I also used the shower as a great excuse to buy a new Cricut cartridge so I could make some decorations. I purchased "Create a Critter," which I must say is one of the cutest cartridges, and I made some animal garland to hang on the tables.







We also draped garland around another table and printed off copies of the "Wishes for Baby" (made available on http://hankandwhit.blogspot.com/search/label/baby) for people to fill out.





It was so much fun planning all the little details, but even more fun to see people showering our friends with so many gifts! 

Julie's daughter decided to help open gifts, too




I can't wait to meet the twins next month!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Month-by-Month

This post is way overdue because it's actually about a project I completed in January, and I think I started it in August, if not before! 

See, in the spring of 2011, our best friends in Nashville announced they were expecting their first child. Once we found out it was a girl, I knew I wanted to make them something special for her. So, after scouring Pinterest and blogs, I found a project I thought I could handle .... month-by-month onesies. 

Not being able to sew, I thought the onesies could be made with my Cricut machine.

First step was purchasing the onesies, at least 12, if you want to do every month. I decided to buy bigger, rather than smaller, knowing their was a good chance this little one would be tall, given her genes. So, I only used the 0-3 for month one and two, 3-6 for month two, three and four, etc. You just never know how quickly babies will grow.

Next, I bought three different types of fabric. I chose two prints for my backgrounds and a solid for letters and numbers. I actually found some really cute packs of one-yard fabrics at Michael's. 


I also bought some Steam-A-Seam, the easy, no-sew solution. I only bought one pack of five 9x12 sheets, but ended up needing more, so if you decide to do this, buy at least two, three packs to be safe.


Once I had all my supplies, I started by first starching my fabric with heavy starch. This is needed to help make it a bit stiff to run through the Cricut.


I honestly never starch (much less iron!), so as silly as it sounds, I was a little nervous about this part. I know, silly, but just being honest. Apparently my dog, Bug, was, too (See him in the doorway wondering what this crazy contraption is? Yea, the ironing board is not seen a lot at the Cole house), but, I made it through.

Next, I decided to cut my Steam-A-Seam the size needed for my Cricut mat and then iron it onto the back of the fabric, per the instructions on the packaging. Just follow the instructions on the Steam-a-Seam and you will be good.



Next, it was time to put it into the Cricut and cut out the circular backgrounds. I tested this first with plain ol' paper to make sure I had the correct sizes for each onesie. I highly recommend this because you will need a much smaller circle for a 0-3 month onesie versus a 12 month. 

Here are a few tips I learned when cutting fabric on a Cricut. First, make sure your fabric is really adhered to the mat. The stickier the mat, the better (I'll talk more about this below). If it starts coming up, it's not going to be pretty. Also, you want to slow your cutting speed low and the pressure high.



You should get something like this and then, all you have to do is iron the circles onto the onesies. Once again, follow the instructions on the Staem-A-Seam.


Easy peesy!


I was feeling really good at this point in the project, but then came the hard part, and the part that actually made me want to give up ... the numbers and letters.

You don't realize until you look at that tiny little onesie just how small the numbers and letters need to be. I, once again, tested everything out with paper, but when I went to cut the fabric with the Cricut, it just pulled and made a mess. 

I neglected to take any pictures of this step because I was so frustrated, not only because I was doubting my ability to actually complete these but I was also wasting my fabric! If I remember correctly, there may have been a few tears, too. I was just certain I was going to ruin this special gift.

Remember I told you I started this project in August? Well, at this frustration I put it aside and didn't want to touch it again. Then, as we neared the due date in December (yes, four months later), I decided I better try again or this would be all for naught.

I went to the Internet and after a bit of research about cutting out fabric with a Cricut, I decided that my problem might be that I wasn't working with fresh supplies. So, I headed to the craft store and bought a new, sticky Cricut mat and a new blade. I came home, held my breath and guess what? It worked!

Whew!

I used the same steps of cutting my Steam-A-Seam and ironing it on. Once again, keep your cutting speed low and your pressure high. And, get a nice sticky mat and a sharp blade. This is critical for those small, intricate letters.

Once I got this step down pat, things started going much smoother. I even had some extra fabric and was able to make a few other simple onesies to go along with the month-by-months. Here's the final product ...




I think I actually got these to my friend about a week before her daughter's one-month birthday, but I did make it on time. And, when she posted the first pic on Facebook, I was thrilled to see them!

And, it gets better every month. Seriously, how cute is she?!?



So, if you decided to tackle this project, do not get discouraged! It is possible, and the end-results are so worth it!




Tuesday, May 22, 2012

And, She's Back!

Well, this is just sad. Do you ever have things that you just keep putting off and the longer you put off, the more guilty you feel about starting back up? I know; it sounds crazy but that is what has happened with my blog. I got out of the habit of posting and before you know it, five months had gone by!

The good news is, I'm back at it. Now I just hope you'll jump back in with me!

So, what have I been doing the last five months, you ask? Sadly, not much! Posting on this blog is a huge motivator for me, and so hopefully this re-emergence will inspire me to get into action. But, I have done a few things and will be posting about them over the next few weeks.

First, let's start with a project I did one weekend while Landon went out of town. It's actually kind of dangerous for him to leave because that's usually when I decide big changes need to be made. I guess I just have too much time to think while he's away!

This particular weekend I decided it was high time to paint the entry way. When we moved in it was tan, or as I like to call it, band-aid, because that's what it reminded me of. 




I decided that in order to flow well with my dining room, which you may remember we painted a dark gray, I would paint the entry way a lighter shade of gray. And so, having been inspired by all the "light and airy" paint colors I have seen lately, I decided to pick a pale shade.

Now, my first mistake was rushing this project. I literally decided on Friday I would paint over the weekend. That would have been fine except for the fact I didn't have a color picked. 

I threw up a few paint swatches on the wall. After looking at them with the door open and natural lighting coming in as well as with the overhead light, I finally picked Benjamin Moore's "Horizon." Then, I headed to Home Depot to have them color match it. Since I didn't want to have to paint more than one coat, because I was being lazy, I opted for Behr's paint and primer mixture (actually, I decided on Glidden's brand but the machine wouldn't mix it so Home Depot gave me the more expensive Behr paint for the same price ... score!)

So, on Sunday, I prepped the room and began painting and it soon became apparent that perhaps I picked a color too light and airy.


I thought, as with my past painting fiascoes, I would let it sit and dry, hoping it might darken. 

It didn't.

So, when Landon returned home the next day, I asked him what he thought. He didn't say much, which indicated he wasn't a fan. So, the next weekend, I thought I'd give it a second coat -- the one thing I was trying to avoid -- thinking that might help.

It didn't.

So, at this point, I decided I, once again, missed the mark on choosing paint colors. Seriously, between this and the bedroom "cotton candy blue," I'm about to give up.

But, I've decided the light gray is not something I can't live with. It may not be exactly what I wanted but it's not horrible. Plus, the bottom wainscot needs a new coat of white paint, and I do think that might help.

So, here is my new entry way in all it's glory ... in some of these pics, it looks white. There just really isn't enough contrast, but it is what it is!






I can tell you the room really lightened up, which was my goal! Oh, and see the gold chandelier? Let's just say that will be receiving a fresh coat of black spray paint very soon!

Have you found any great paint colors lately? My bedroom still has six different colors on the wall. It's about time to make a decision, and I'd love to know what has worked for you.




Monday, January 16, 2012

Birthday Cakes

I'm afraid I might have lost all my blogger friends since I haven't posted in a while. 2012 has started off with a bang and as busy as ever.

Over the weekend, we celebrated my husband Landon's birthday. Well, we actually celebrated last week by having some friends over because I had to work all day Saturday, which was his actual birthday.

I gave Landon the choice of what he would like to eat, willing to prepare anything he wanted. Of, course, he defaulted to his favorite food -- pizza. So, I asked him about what type of cake he wanted. Not much of a sweet eater, he said he didn't really want one. But, I don't think you can have a birthday without a cake.

With it being my choice of cake, I decided to make one of my favorite cakes that is easy and oh so good. This is a cake that I got hooked on in college because my roommate Kate loved to make it ... and we both loved to eat it!

It has several names but I typically call it Heath Bar Cake.



Here's what you need:
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
  • 1/2 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 ounces caramel ice cream topping
  • 3 (1.4 ounce) Heath Bars, chopped or crushed
  • 1 (8 ounce) container cool whip, thawed
As I said, it is one of the simplest cakes to make. Just bake the cake mix in a 9x13 in pan according to the package and let cool for about five minutes.

Next, poke holes all over the cake (but don't poke all the way through). You can use your utensil of choice for this. I read where some people like to use a fork to get even coverage. I just used the end of a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile, mix your condensed milk and caramel sauce in a saucepan over low heat until blended.  Then, pour the mixture over the top of the warm cake and let it sink in. Sprinkle your crushed Heath Bars on top of the cake, but reserve a few to decorate with. Finally, once the cake is completely cool, spread the cool whip over top and decorate with your remaining caramel and heath bars. Refrigerate and serve!

This is one of those cakes that gets better as it sits, so if you can make it the night before, do!

All our friends loved the cake and I took the leftovers to work Friday where it also received rave reviews. So, I highly recommend!