Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Chicks on a Nest

Nothing earth shattering, in fact it might not even taste that good, but look at it!
The "nest" is a rice crispie treat recipe where I used chow mien noodles instead of rice crispies; I might have mixed in some chocolate as well to give it that nesty dark brown color. Shape the nests to a muffin tin making sure the sides sit higher than the middle.
Fill the center with candy eggs. I prefer Cadbury eggs, but the Robin egg candies are a close second. Also, the candy coating doubles as a lipstick in a pinch (ask my aunts).
Top the egg filled nests with Peeps chicks (or others if you prefer). The thing I hate about Peeps is that five are stuck together, which looks fine in the package, but then the individual chicks look hen- pecked. Look at them!
The upside of using the Peeps chicks is that the boxes can be reused to give away individual birds on nests. Two fit per box. I think the one on the left has cataracts.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

upcycled, re-purposed denim; into a skirt

Are they flowers that have been thrown into the air and are slowly falling to the earth against a blue sky background?
Or is it a large field where the bodies of the slain Avatars have been laid out to be adorned with everlasting blooms?

Wrong on both accounts. It is an upcycled denim skirt. Often denim is upcycled in to quilts or, in the case below, a duvet cover. I made it as such so it would be easier to launder. Denim gets to be quite heavy when it's wet and if batting and a backing were added to that. . .I'm not training to be a prize fighter, so I prefer my bed dressings to be lighter-weight.

My daughter wore out a pair of pants. While I could have turned them in to cutoffs or hemmed them for long shorts, I instead added a skirt to the cut offs. She gets the benefit of being girly and I get the benefit of not worrying about her exposing herself. Win:Win.

For the most part, I liked it quite a bit, so I decided to try something similar for me. I had a pair of jeans that had the knees torn out, or maybe it was the back pockets, or possibly the thighs; I really can't remember except that they were indecent.

So I cut the back out making sure to leave 5/8" of fabric all around. (That way you have something to stitch to and it looks more like it is a part of the waistband and side seams).

Something not strictly necessary, but that I did is I stitched around each square to prevent fraying on the inside. It was extra work, but made it more finished and makes it feel less like there are grasshopper antennae brushing against my legs when I wear it. I used an over lock machine, but zig-zag stitching the edges would yield similar results.

The first row of blocks is actually only a half row because I wanted the pockets to remain in the front so that I would have a place for my phone and keys. Yes, I realize that is what a purse or handbag is for, but I'm not really a handbag kind of gal and prefer to have those items on my person. Also, the first row of blocks is longer than the rest of the blocks because it had to span the distance from the waistband down to the bottom of where the pocket liners hung on the front so that I was starting with something equal distance in length. I eased in that first half row of blocks to accommodate the curvature of my backside.
After that, it was just a matter of making the tiers for the tiered skirt. I used a 6x6 porcelain tile and a permanent marker to trace the squares on the denim pants I was re-purposing. While cutting out side seams and inseams creates more visually, my machine has a hard time sewing through that many layers, so I only used flat portions of pants.

After cutting out squares and finishing the edges, I began stitching them together in rows. I increased each tier by two squares. For example the first row had five across the back. Therefore it would stand to reason that an equal five could have been spread across the front. So for the second row; the first full tier, I used 12 blocks, 14 for the next and so on.
With six tiers, I ended up with a skirt approximately 36" long, which, with my short legs, is about ankle length. If you are leggy, you'll want to do it longer. After the tiers have been sewn together, I hemmed it and then top stitched each row so that the finished seam would lie flat. (look at the close-up pictures of the front and back if that doesn't make sense)

Back to the front. The final step was to embroider, with ribbon, the cascading flowers. I am not an expert and cannot give a tutorial on that particular aspect of the skirt, but I'm sure you can locate it elsewhere on the Internet. I did find that the 1/8" ribbon was the easiest to work with. Originally I cut denim flowers, but they frayed and didn't stand out as well, so I unpicked them and added the brightly colored flowers you see pictured.

The things I love about the skirt are:
1. It is unique. I'm the only one I know with one like it.
2. I can wear the bag lady/gypsy skirt and since it has a built in waistband, I still feel like I have some structure to the clothing.
3. It reused denim that wasn't worn out.
4. In the drab, dark winter, the flowers are like a tiny touch of summer.
5. The denim goes with nearly anything and several colors of flowers coordinate with a variety of tops.

The concept was reused again in a tie skirt. Denim top, ties on the bottom.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

1000 = Rapunzel Cake

I had it in my head that when I finally hit 1000 hits on my blog last month that I would write something special, something remarkable. Yet I didn't expect it to happen quite so suddenly. One night I went to bed and it had gotten 941 hits. The next day it was 1052. Whoa! I missed it.

It seems like the perfect opportunity to bring in something from the past, mostly because it is nearing my bed time now and I've not a lot of time for typing. Plus, the next thing I want to write about requires some measuring and a lot of photos, so it will have to wait until I have more time.

 This is a cake my sister and I worked on for my nieces birthday. If it isn't obvious, it's the tower of Rapunzel or if not the tower of Rapunzel, a tower that she would have been entirely comfortable residing in.

My sister baked multiple cupcakes, which she stacked on a long knitting needle skewered through aluminum covered cardboard, and then topped the whole ensemble with an inverted sugar cone. She was busy doing other birthday preparations and left the decorating to me.

First the cake was frosted with white butter cream (shortening cream?) frosting. Then, using a flat tip, like a Wilton # 46 or 47, I put grey bricks over each spot where crumbs bled through the frosting (too honest?) and in places where the frosting was too thin. Also to surround the tower window.

The same tip was used to layer shingles one over the other on the roof of the tower. After that,  it was just a matter of adding flowers and vines and creating the grassy knoll on which Rapunzel stands. With the excess frosting, coordinating cupcakes were decorated to surround the base of the tower.
Another really good idea that my sister had was to buy a microwave tray at a thrift shop. It makes a sturdy, glass serving tray to display Rapunzel, her tower, and the surrounding countryside.

One change I would recommend to anyone attempting this type of a cake is to use straight sided pans, like the upcycled, canned-chicken pans, rather than cupcake pans where the sides taper inward. By doing so, one would eliminate the waves in the sides of the structure.

Also, (completely unrelated, but what my husband is viewing right now), the villain in the James Bond Skyfall movie is possibly one of the creepiest (on multiple levels) individuals ever cast in a 007 film.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Mysterious Grey Box

What would you do if you had a box like this?
What do you mean you would throw it away? Can't you see just a small hint of beauty and fine craftsmanship beneath the weathered and toxic paint and rusting hardware?

I always thought it was an electrical box, but the chart affixed to the lid makes me think it might have been a plumbing tool box. Or maybe it's just a general compartmentalized tool box.

I've had two in my life. The first I inherited from my grandpa. He passed away and didn't take it with him and then when my grandma died and we cleaned out her house, there it was. I guess she didn't want it either.

This one was procured in a similar fashion. My dad died in November and he left it behind. I'm pretty sure that means he wanted me to have it. Weird how sometimes one gets messages like that from beyond the grave. Actually my brother was going to take it, but as he had several other trunk/boxes that were similar, he relinquished this one.

The first box, the one from my grandpa, was not in as good of condition, in fact some of the metal corner pieces had to be replaced because they were rusted all the way through. The paint refused to adhere to the lid as it had been soaked in grease and oil. Naturally, the best choice was to attach the old back door (also from my grandma's house; another thing she left behind) and put on some legs, made from bed posts from a bed frame I found alongside the road. I made a new top from leftover pieces of the living room floor that had been stored in the rafters of the garage and some hooks across the top for hanging things. It is also likely that the center panels were so weather worn that I covered them up with bead board. The window panes were replaced with metal so it's now a hall tree and a place where I can hang Christmas cards, wedding announcements, birth announcements, thank you cards and other things that I want to trade out at regular intervals. Most people use the kitchen fridge, so I guess having a hall tree makes me classy. Yes!

The second box, the one from my dad, was in much finer condition. I thought and pondered, debated and mused, and finally determined it would be nice to put up on one of the shelves in my living room. They were supposed to be plant shelves, but it doesn't really get enough light, so a trunk might be a better option.

I opted to paint it a pale blue to contrast the brown and green walls and to compliment the bench seat and curtains, so I sanded down the old paint (probably lead) and filled in the holes from the old handles. I probably could have taken the time to fill in ever nick and attempt a flawless finish, but I like the character of the weathered wood. I also sanded down the metal so it would accept the final coat of paint.

Once that had been done, the whole thing was sprayed with grey primer. This was especially important on the edges so the rust didn't soak through. When the primer had dried, I sprayed on the blue paint. One could easily go through and paint it with a brush and/or roller, but spraying has more even coverage and is easier to put into the hard to reach and make smooth corners.

I let that dry for a few days and then taped off all the wood areas that I wanted to remain blue, and then used a hammered finish spray paint for a top coat on the metal.
I know what you're thinking. Wow, that was a lot of work to go through for it to look exactly the same. But you are wrong. Originally it was a bluish shade of grey. Now it is a lovely grayish tinted blue. Fetching isn't it.
Maybe it helps to see the whole picture.
So my issue is I have this plant shelf in the living room and it can't really house plants due to poor lighting. (Maybe I said that already). So rather than have the vacant space, I am attempting to find something lovely and noteworthy to fill the space of the wall adjoining the vaulted ceiling. I've thought of a few other decorations to put up there, but by all means, if you have an opinion, feel free to voice it. The best part is that whatever I put up there can be stored inside the trunk when it's Christmas time, because that is the shelf for my annual village.