My #1 New Year Resolution: Stop dressing like a grungy college student

could blame it on the extra weight.
could blame it on the baby that I'm so busy caring for (who is a toddler now BTW).
could blame it on my tight budget.
could blame it on the blog and this constantly-crafting, no-time-to-get-made-up phase.

But, no, there are no excuses.  Running around in ripped jeans and your husband's sweatshirts isn't so cute anymore when your in your mid-thirties.

Stop. Dressing. Like. A. Grungy. College. Student.

Seriously...  I need to make some skirts, refashion some hoodies, and knit something for myself for a change.  Here's a list of projects to get me looking somewhat put together in 2013.

LOTS of First Birthday Party Ideas With A Winter or Ball or Balloon Theme

  1. Send cute homemade invitations.
  2. Cancel party at the last minute when you find out that only one person can come.  Freak out a little.
  3. Throw together a family party the day of the party. Relax and enjoy.

Darn December birthdays.  I had every intention of putting on an elaborate first birthday party like the ones you see on the Pinterest boards.  I pinned and I brainstormed and I pinned some more... about the theme and the food and favors. So I'm sharing my ideas even though I didn't use them all. But I did put together a really fun (easy, inexpensive) little family party at the last minute, here's how...

"How'd You Do That?!" DIY Image Transfers on Marble Tile & Canvas

Recently I stumbled onto the world of image transfers (putting photos or artwork on wood, canvas, tiles, fabric). I tried it out and made some special Christmas gifts for my mom and mother-in-law.  For my mother-in-law, I took some photos of the beach near her house and put them on canvas.  For my mom, I put a couple of photos from our trip to Paris onto marble tiles. The swiss-cheese looking holes in the tiles remind me of cobble stone streets and old architecture of Europe.  Unlike the tile coasters I made where the paper is glued on with mod podge, this method (wait for it...) TRANSFERS THE IMAGE to the tile/canvas etc. and the paper is rubbed away. I read several tutorials (I liked this one and this one the best) and learned there's different ways to do image transfers, but it sounds to me like using a gel medium is the best way.  I have to say that I like how they look on the tile better - maybe because it is a harder surface but I didn't get as many "bald spots" from rubbing some of the image off with the paper.  The canvas definitely had a hand-painted and "worn" look to it, my son even thought I'd free-handed them (extra dessert for him!).  Because of the risk of bare spots, I think black and white or sepia tones would look better on canvas.   I ended up doing the beach pictures on tile because the canvas felt too homemade.  (UPDATE>> I have just successfully done an image transfer on canvas with my inkjet printer, check it out here)!

Impressive & Inexpensive Tile Coasters With Paper And Enviro Tex

This post contains affiliate links :)

I caught the découpage bug and made these coasters, along with some washer necklaces and glass marble magnets, for Christmas gifts. My mom was so impressed with the coasters that she asked me to make several more to display in her skincare salon boutique. I read many tutorials and most people use an acrylic spray to protect the mod podged paper from wet drinks, but then I read that the surface can still get tacky.  Luckily I read this post and used a resin called Enviro Tex lite that gives a thick, glossy and water/heat proof finish. They turned out great but I'm still going to try another option that I read about on Curbly -- polyurethane. She says her coasters have held up well and painting the finish on sounds a little easier than mixing and pouring and dealing with missed spots and drips. But Enviro Tex looks FANTASTIC so I still highly recommend it, plus you can also use it on the washer necklaces.

Super Easy DIY Glass Marble Magnets

This is going to be a quick post, that is just how easy these glass marble magnets are to make!  I wanted to make some for my mom who is always looking for pretty magnets, and then I made a bunch more because they are so fun and pretty.  These were just one of three paper crafting projects that I wanted to try for Christmas.  Hers are a black and white fleur de lys damask type pattern, and I also made some really cute polka dots and chevrons.  I only have pictures of the hearts and insects because the fancier ones are currently on display in my mom's skincare salon but I'll add some more pictures later.  I have to mention that I started out using Mod Podge to glue the paper to the marble, and then E6000 to glue the magnet on, but E6000 is photo safe so I figure why not just use it for the paper/marble as well?  One less thing to buy/get out/put away...

Mod Podge Washer Necklaces with Enviro Tex

This post contains affiliate links :)

As if the world needs another washer necklace tutorial, right?  Last week I went crazy with the Mod Podge projects!  I see so many enticing pins on Pinterest that I put 3 paper crafting projects on my Christmas project list.  Last week I made them all:  flat marble magnets, tile coasters and washer necklaces.  I learned enough in the process that I wanted to share some tips.  I'm going to try and give you the lowdown on different kinds of glue and sealants because it is kind of confusing at first (or maybe I am just taking on too many new things at once!).  So here' what you need to make the washer necklaces...

Newborn Mittens With A French Seam (and optional ruffle cuff)

I recently sold a baby flannel pajama set on Etsy, and the buyer was so nice and sweet that I wanted to do something special for her - so I used some of the scraps to make some matching baby mittens.  (The kind to prevent scratching, not for cold weather.)  I was kind of rushed as people are this time of year, I had about 7 different projects going at once and the baby's first birthday party to plan.  I quickly researched some different ways of making newborn mittens -- most had a lining and that you sew together at the cuff and then turn it out through a hole in the lining.  Some recommended using elastic thread in the bobbin instead of threading elastic through a casing, but I haven't had good luck with that technique yet.  Then I found this other cool pattern but I didn't have any stretch knits to do the cuff.  So I whipped out this little do-hickey on my own and it came out pretty dang good!  It's different than anything I found online, and it's just one layer with a French seam so it's soft and smooth inside for baby's little fingers and nails.  This would be a great way to learn French seams too!

6 Ways To Get Your Potato On (french fries and mashed potatoes aren't on the list!)

I'm not normally a potato lover, but when you have a ten pound bag from Costco, you find ways to use them!  Here are some interesting and easy ways to prepare potatoes...

Microwave Chips

Crispy potato chips in the microwave -- shut the front door!  A mandoline is extremely helpful here to get those chips as thin as possible.

Pumpkin Spice Latte With Coconut Milk (Dairy-Free)

I recently posted a recipe for a homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte using half-n-half and egg yolk (custard style) -- but I wouldn't be true to my blog name if I didn't offer a version with coconut milk.  With ingredients like pumpkin and coconut, do I dare call something so yummy healthy?!  One of the great things about coconut milk is that it emulsifies with other ingredients beautifully, and its thick enough that it doesn't need the egg-yolk like the dairy version.  It also adds some sweetness and takes away from the pumpkin flavor so that I tweaked the ratios of the ingredients, and decided that with so many little alterations, I figured this version deserves its own post...   Hope you like!

Countdown To Christmas: 6 Weeks Of Kid Friendly Projects To Make And Bake

Ack -- Six weeks until Christmas?!  Time to get your craft on.  The holidays are so busy for everyone - especially for me this year with the baby's first birthday in December (which I haven't started planning, by the way).  Make the holiday madness fun and set aside one day a week to make something festive with your kids.  Here are some ideas that I will be doing with my family that kids of all ages will enjoy.  I've included some ideas to cover the spirit of the season:  giving, making memories and baking.  There are seven project ideas so you're more than covered 'til Christmas!

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latté

You know it's fall when Starbucks is serving Pumpkin Spice Lattés, even if it is still in the mid-80's in California.  I love me some Starbucks but I am not a fan of paying $4 for coffee, so I had to come up with a homemade (and all-natural) version!  After a week of Pumpkin Spice Lattés, I think I've got it just right.  If you try it, please leave a comment and let me know how you like it!

Crock Pot Chicken Stock (And Homemade Chicken Soup Recipe)

A few years ago I read Nourishing Traditions (Sally Fallon) and have been making homemade chicken stock regularly ever since. Bone broth is rich in minerals because of the marrow and gelatin, which is why it is beneficial when you're sick. But besides that, its yummy! Use it for soups, sauces, cooking rice or potatoes, to thin baby food purees, and anything else you can think of. The NT way takes up to 24 hours on the stove, but most of us need to leave the house at some point, so I've found that the crock pot works great too.

DIY Puffy Felt Magnets (and Blanket Stitch Tutorial)

This is a project only a mother could love. Meaning, it's a great introduction to sewing for kids AND these magnets are very entertaining (and safe) for babies. I had a lot of fun with the color combinations and got creative with buttons and ribbon as well. But mostly, they made my fridge a colorful wonderland for the baby which means less scaling cupboards and getting underfoot as I'm cooking!

I got the idea from this pin and sort of went from there.  The magnet is inside the felt which reduces the strength of the magnet, so these are good for play, not for holding important paperwork!  And remember things like magnets and buttons are choking hazards so use strong/thick thread and knot everything in place (or just embellish with embroidery) and supervise baby.

Blind Hem Stitch Made Easy

Blind hems look very professional and are used in drapery, pants, and anywhere you don't want to see stitching on the right side of the fabric. Instead of a line of straight stitching, you will see a single tack every inch or so.  It helps to have perfectly matching thread to not notice the tacking at all. By folding the fabric a certain way, the machine straight stitches along the hem edge and then isolated zigzags catch the rest of the fabric. Don't worry, it makes sense once you get started!

Top 10 Pinterest Recipes: Tested And Loved!

I am a Pinterest junkie.  Love it.  It gets the creative juices flowing.  Can you hear the "but" coming? Sorry to say I've tried more than one disappointing recipe from Pinterest, so I want to save you some time and feature ten great Pinterest recipes I've TESTED and LOVED! I saved the best for last so make sure to read all the way to the end.  I'm listing (chronologically?) from breakfast to dessert  :)

{BabyFoodie} Coconut Rice Cereal

I adore all variations of coconut rice, coconut custard and rice pudding.  There's only three ingredients in this sweet and nutritious baby cereal:  coconut milk, rice cereal, and raisins.  Substitute any grain your baby prefers, or make a grain-free "custard" with egg or banana as a substitute.  In case you missed it in another {BabyFoodie} post, raisins are high in iron and coconut is a medium chain fatty acid (digests and assimilates easily) and the lauric acid is as close as you can get to human breast-milk.

{BabyFoodie} Apple, Raisin & Cinnamon Purée

When I learned that raisins are high in iron, something that babies need more of after six months, I started adding them to everything! It never occurred to me to incorporate raisins into baby food. This week I've been making a purée (glorified applesauce) of apple and raisin with cinnamon and adding it to rice cereal. Honestly, it tastes better than sugar-sweetened oatmeal I've had! It's great plain or mix the purée with some organic canned pumpkin or cottage cheese -- my bubba loves it! This might become a staple for baby & the rest of the family. Other things to try it with: banana, oats, sweet potato, carrot, squash...

{BabyFoodie} Homemade Rice Cereal

I checked this website to find out how to make rice cereal, and learned some other cool stuff. Apparently leftover rice is bacteria-prone so it's best to cook at each meal, don't do the frozen meal thing. Also, uncooked rice should be stored in the fridge because it can go rancid without any telltale signs. And of course, we all know that brown rice is healthier than white, but apparently it's one of those foods that should be purchased organic (like the dirty dozen produce list).  Based on what I've read about grains, it would probably be good to soak the rice for a prolonged time to increase digestibility and to remove the phytic acid which is a nutrient blocker.

I didn't start my son on grains until 8-9 months, up til then he only had fruits and veggies and chicken and cottage cheese. We tried rice cereal around 7 months and he had a little reaction (painful gas) so we waited and tried again later. So if your little one is ready for grains, here is how you make and prepare rice cereal...

A Guide To Homemade Baby Food

The foods we give our babies are so important in their development and immune system, and it's a reminder to feed yourself and the rest of the family healthy too! Don't be intimidated by making your own baby food. You don't have to be an exceptional cook or even spend much time in the kitchen. Here is a rundown of what you need and how to make and serve healthy homemade baby food.  (Pictured: homemade rice cereal with apple cinnamon raisin puree)

Lil Boo Blue's Cascading Ruffle Skirt, Adapted

This skirt by Lil Boo Blue is the first thing I bookmarked when I started learning to sew, and I am finally making it! I love the vertical ruffles and jagged ends. The ruffles fall because of the way they're cut, there is no gathering. For an example of gathered ruffles, see my tiered ruffle skirt post. (Recognize the yellow sparkle material?)

Cheesy Grits With Fresh Ground Black Pepper

I have a thing for cheddar cheese and black pepper. I don't know why they're so good together but I just go with it. This morning I made cheesy grits with, of course, fresh ground black pepper. You could fancy this up with different kinds of cheese, herbs etc. It's like a poor man's risotto.

Dutch Babies

Dutch Babies were a favorite of mine growing up.  I couldn't, for the life of me, describe it to my husband:  somewhere between a crepe and bread pudding.  The vision of powdered sugar absorbing the pools of butter on the surface is pure happiness.  BFF made them when we visited last weekend and the memories came flooding back.  This weekend I made them for my family for the first time.  

Finally Made A Ruffle Skirt!

A ruffle skirt has been in my project queue for some time, and I found some great stretch knit at Hancocks on clearance, so I couldn't wait to begin! I got the fabric in grey and yellow, and plan to use both colors to make Lil Boo Blue's cascading ruffle skirt. Today I'll just show how I made the yellow tiered ruffle skirt...

Homemade Frozen Breakfast Burritos

One of the best things I did while pregnant is make meals in large batches for the freezer so that I didn't have to cook much after the baby was born. Now that school is in and baseball tournaments that have us leaving the house much too early for my taste, I needed something ready-to-eat on hand.

Crispy Homemade Hashbrowns

I don't normally keep potatoes in the house, but I got a 10# bag at Costco and had to find ways to use them! I Googled recipes for homemade hashbrowns and one of my favorite go-to food blogs came up #1. Her method uses a potato ricer which I don't have, and I wanted to leave her a comment that mine turned out fantastic anyway, but her blog comments were closed -- I have to tell SOMEBODY how easy and crispy these are so I'll write up a quick post to share :)

Lil' Cowboy Baby Food Bag

I have these beautiful reusable glass baby food jars that, sadly, I tote around in ziplock bags in my purse when we're out and about. I finally made a little baby size lunch sack to carry them! This one is horribly mismatched -- blue and brown western print with black and white polkadots. But now I have a place for messy jars and spoons, and my purse stays clean! It fits 2 of these oversized glass containers with room for a spoon, small bib etc. You could probably fit 3 or more standard baby food jars, or use it for a pacifier, vitamins or medication or anything else you can think of.  It would be easy to fancy this up with a strap, bow, pocket, etc.

This One Goes Out To The Cottage Cheese Haters

I hate cottage cheese, too. That said, because its a healthy protein I have tried to eat it throughout my life and the closest I've come to liking it is eating it with pineapple. Putting it on a baked potato is a close second. I bought some for the baby and I figured I'd try again (lead by example, right?).

Tiny Taggy Teething Toy (that crinkles!)

Today my almost-9-month-old was furiously chewing on everything, so tonight I whipped up something to sink his tooth buds into. Plus, we were out of Cheerios (keep reading) et voilà... the tiny taggy teething toy. It's a great way to use scraps and a quick project. that you can customize a zillion ways.