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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

12 hours in the car with a toddler isn’t so bad.  Maybe it’s just my amazing trooper of a kid but I’m tempted to even  say that the drive from Portland to the Bay Area was fun.  I realize that sounds crazy but crayons, knitting and books on CD go a long way- 600 miles even.

Here are some highlights from our Easter and Grandparent extravaganza:

1. We were able to find a happy vegetarian, organic breakfast place when we stopped in Medford, OR on our drive down.  I never would have guessed.  (Of course, Sesame mostly just ate butter.)

DSC054552. Stop #1 was Mill Valley, CA to stay with Mike’s parents and Sesame tried her hand at dying Easter eggs.

A few eggs were smushed in the process and she did taste the dye but we managed to get a bunch of pretty eggs at the end.

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3. She got the hang of the Easter egg hunt pretty quickly, though at first she pointed to the eggs and wanted someone else to do the hard work of actually picking it up and putting it in her basket.Baby's first easter egg huntBaby's first easter egg hunt

She sure spent a lot of time admiring her pretty eggs!

4. Grandma Diane made a fabulous coconut cake for an early Easter dinner.DSC05484

Okay, the cake was for dessert, not dinner, but it was the highlight.  Thanks to Grandma, Sesame got her first taste of cake batter and loved it, of course.

DSC055215. We met my mom at Traintown and waded through a sea of a thousand excited toddlers.  Here are the 2 grandmas together on the train.  The best part was the petting zoo but we were too busy feeding the animals to take any pictures.

6. Off to Napa to stay with my mom for a few days and Easter egg hunt #2, this one actually on Easter.  Second Easter Egg Hunt

Sesame got smart this time and didn’t let the basket hold her back.  She set down her basket in a central location and then ran back and forth from egg to basket.  Yes, I did make her dress.  It’s the same pattern as this one and I’ll share some better pictures another time.

7. We visited a friend’s chickens and had fun feeding them pretzels and trying to catch one so we could pet it.  Allison's Chickens

Mike was the successful chicken wrangler.

Allison's Chickens

You know you’re in Napa when the chickens have wine boxes to lay their eggs in.

Allison's Chickens

It was cool to see adult versions of some of the same breeds that we have.  I can’t wait for ours to grow up!

It was a fun trip and now we’re tired.

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Bits and Pieces

love you snowflake
This is a Valentine’s Day snowflake that I made last year.  Now that you know how to make snowflakes with messages in them, you can make some this year too!
lovebirdsheart on fire
Also, don’t forget about the templates I have for these Valentine’s Day papercuts.

I’ve been knitting a ton but I still only have little pictures to show you.  I haven’t had a chance to get Mike to take some pictures of the purple sweater I finished last month, but they’re coming, I swear.
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I’m making a Valentine’s Day dress for sesame with some cute fabric I got practically for free from a fabric store that was closing.  I’m also doing some test knitting for a super cute little pattern, but I can’t say any more about that.
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Lastly, I’m channeling the cool, crisp days of autumn and am knitting a little sweater for the kiddo.  She can wear fall colors all year, right?

I hope you all survive Friday the 13th just fine and I hope to have some finished things to show soon!

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Our tree has been down for a while, the decorations dismantled and the 12 days of Christmas ended yesterday so why am I still blogging about it?  Well, I got some fabulous handmade gifts and want to share them with you and give a little shout out to their super talented makers.

I was a vendor in Crafty Wonderland‘s Super Colossal Holiday Sale in December, which was a success despite freak Portland snow and ice.  In case I wasn’t sure before, I am now convinced that Portlanders are nuts about handmade stuff.  I love love love this city.  Due to my underemployed status and Mike’s of being laid off, I had no money to spend and it would have been sad to spend all day among such fabulous handmade goodness if it weren’t for the fact that my mom just happened to be visiting that weekend.

These were the goodies we found under our tree on Christmas.  (Thanks Mom!)
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First up, a completely adorable onesie for sesame from B Hive Designs.  In case you’re thinking, hey I’d wear a shirt like that, you can.  I’d totally buy it, except for the money thing and the fact that I’m not into matching mother-daughter outfits.  It was cool to get a onesie from B Hive because the lady behind those cute prints bought one of my hats at Crafty in October and was nice enough to mention it on her blog.
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This is not really a cupcake (though sesame was super proud of herself for climbing up to the table to get it and was caught eating the sprinkles off the top).  It’s a bath fizzy from MeMe Cosmetics and it really does smell like summer.  I also got some coconut lip balm that I love because other than feeling nice on my lips and being all natural, sesame likes to take it and swipe it across her cheeks.  What’s not to love about a toddler who smells like coconut?  I could just eat her.
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Adorning my bare wall in my new tree-house office I have this fabulous calendar.  I’ve admired Sweet Bonny online and am super excited to have 12 awesome designs to put up on my wall!
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Not to be left out, Mike got this nice notebook with a beer theme made by Two Guitars.  Fitting, no?  Beer and guitars are two of Mike’s favorite things.  Now he can write down all his thoughts on beer.  Or something.

pink sippy cover 3

In other (etsy) news,I’m starting to make more water bottle covers made from recycled sweaters and I love them all.  Sesame wanted to keep this one for herself.  I can’t say that I didn’t want her to have it but it was a custom order so off it went.

One of my hats made it onto the front page of Etsy again just before Christmas!  There’s my cashmere hat in the 2nd row.  I was excited to see it there.  That little navy blue one is actually still for sale.  It could be yours!

front page 12-22-08

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Casey snowflakeI love making paper snowflakes and was excited to learn a fancy new (to me) technique from a co-worker 2 Christmases ago.  She and I made so many snowflakes that year (while we should have been working) that I actually got sore spots on my thumb and finger from the scissors!

These snowflakes have words in them!  I like making them with names but you can insert whatever word(s) you’d like.  Last year I made a name snowflake for everyone in my family.  It was fun to watch them discover that their name was actually making up the snowflake.  Do you see my name in the snowflake above?  Here, I’ll help you out.

Casey snowflake detail

This was the original triangle of folded paper that I cut.  The Y is a little wonky but you get the idea.  Mike snowflake

This was one I made for Mike. His turned out a little boring. (Sorry, Mike!) The great thing about these snowflakes is that you can make a dozen with the same name and they will look totally different every time!

Want to make one yourself?  I’ll make one with you and share some tips.
You start with a square of paper folded up into a triangle. That part is easy.   I like to round out the end, but you don’t have to.
Now draw your message on the triangle. I find a pencil and good eraser to be very helpful. Some people think it’s cheating to draw out a snowflake pattern but you really have to when you make one with letters.
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Some tips:
Place the bottom edge of your word on the side of the triangle that’s one big fold. It’ll make your snowflake much more stable when you’re cutting it out.
Your letters need to touch each other! This is super important! If your letters don’t touch, your snowflake will just be a bunch of loose pieces.
Similarly, your design needs to go from the bottom edge up to the top edge, at least in a couple of places. This is where fun filler shapes come in. Try adding stars, trees, hearts or whatever you think fits.
Cut along your lines, working from the outside towards the tip, and from top to bottom. The tip and the bottom edge give your triangle stability so do those areas last if you can.
DSC04516DSC04517DSC04519If you have little areas inside of letters, like on my O, you can use an exacto knife, or just cut through the letter. That’s what I do.

Unfold carefully and see what you made!

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Often I’m surprised by how it turns out.  Like on this one, the holly leaf at the center doesn’t look like holly in the unfolded snowflake.  It looks like a flower.  Also, the straight line of the J gives the snowflake a square border.  If I had curved the J, it would look a lot different.

You can also make then with the word starting at the center point, though my former coworker would say that it’s backwards.  Here’s a backwards one.  Edit: It’s my daughter’s name and I don’t usually share it on this here blog.  It’s an uncommon name with an unusual spelling. I also was a little tired so I just did a triangle for the A and didn’t cut out the centers of the R or e.  There you have it!
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Now go make your own!  Happy Christmas Eve !

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DSC04510I made peppermint marshmallows last night and they turned out better than I even imagined!  Dense but light at the same time, squishy and chewy and so much better than those at the store!  I read a lot of different recipes and blog posts about marshmallow making and I want to put all the good info I found right here in one place so that I can remember what I did and also so you can make them too, if you’d like.  I highly recommend you do.  They are fantastic.  If you want to read all the marshmallow info that I did you can find the recipes and blog posts here, here, here, here and here.

This recipe filled a 9 x 13 inch pan and I cut it into approximately 75 marshmallows.  They’re a little smaller than the jumbo store-bought cylinders but they’re still a decent size. Here’s the recipe I used- it’s the one from the last link above (though without the vanilla) but I’ve typed it out here to include my notes and the peppermint extract and coloring that I added.

Ingredients/Equipment:

  • 2 1/2 packets of gelatin (this is about 2 1/2 Tablespoons)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • red food coloring (optional)
  • peppermint extract (or vanilla if you want plain marshmallows)
  • rice flour, corn starch and/or powdered sugar- for dusting the marshmallows (Marshmallows need to be dusted in something so that the edges aren’t sticky.  I didn’t want to use plain corn starch because I didn’t want it to come off in my hot cocoa, making it too thick.  I was afraid that plain powdered sugar might make them too sweet and plain rice flour might be too, well, plain.  I chose to mix rice flour with powdered sugar and really like the effect but use what you want- or what you have on hand.
  • oil- so marshmallows don’t stick to the pan
  • parchment or wax paper to line the pan
  • candy thermometer
  • stand mixer with whisk attachment (I guess you could use a hand mixer but it’ll need to be on a high speed for quite a while so be sure your motor is up to the challenge and keep in mind that you, or your elves, will have to hold it for a long time.  A whisk attachment is important because you need to whip air into the mixture)

Directions:

  1. Put 1/2 cup water in stand mixer bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top.  Let sit while you do the next steps.
  2. In a saucepan, add 1/2 cup water, corn syrup, sugar and salt.  Over low heat, stir until sugar dissolves.
  3. Turn heat to high and let boil until thermometer reaches about 250 degrees. Use a fairly large pan because the sugar mixture bubbles up a lot as it’s cooking. (Nearly every recipe I saw gave a different temperature and some said soft ball stage, while others said hard ball.  I picked 250 because it was about average and my marshmallows turned out great.  Also, you’re not supposed to stir it while it’s boiling but I did and they still turned out fine.)
  4. While that’s cooking, prepare your pan.  I lined the bottom and sides with wax paper, then brushed on a generous amount of oil.  Finally, I coated it with a mixture of rice flour and powdered sugar.  ( Actually Mike did this part, not me.  The marshmallows stuck a little on the sides that didn’t get oiled as much but they were still really easy to get out of the pan.)
  5. Let sugar mixture cool slightly, then pour into mixing bowl with gelatin and water in it while mixer is on medium speed.  Whisk until sugar mixture is completely incorporated.   (Recipes varied on how much to let the mixture cool, while 1 didn’t have you wait at all.  I think the point is to not pour boiling hot sugar into the mixer while it’s on because that can be dangerous.  I let it cool to about 225 but don’t recommend it.  The sugar was already starting to harden a little and it made it hard to get it all out of the pan.  Also, some hardened completely when it touched the cool mixing bowl and that chunk never mixed in with the gelatin.  If you have a splash guard, use that and pour carefully while sugar mixture is still warm.)
  6. Turn mixer to high speed.  Mixture will start to get light and fluffy and will expand a lot.  It starts to look like marshmallow creme.  It’ll get about 3 times more voluminous.  Keep mixing until it doesn’t get any puffier.  ( I didn’t time this part but it took somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes.)  Right at the end, add a little peppermint extract- use your judgment on amount as a little goes a long way.
  7. Pour into prepared pan, smooth top with an oiled spatula and let sit overnight.
  8. Okay so somewhere in here you need to add food coloring. DSC04502Well you don’t really need to but why not?  If you want the whole thing to be delightfully pink, add coloring when it’s still in the mixer.  I wanted the swirled effect so added some gel coloring while it was in the pan and swirled with a knife.  It looked pretty but as it turned out, the color didn’t really make it past the top layer.  After swirling, I smoothed out the top again and ended up spreading red color over the whole top.  Liquid color may mix better but I can’t say for sure.
  9. The next day, take out of pan, peel paper off and put on a surface dusted with whatever you want to dust with.  With a sharp knife cut it into squares, dredge  cut edges in dusting powder and place in an airtight container, separating layers with wax paper.

DSC04514I packaged some up for the neighbors in neat little wax paper bundles and labeled them with these great stickers thanks to my friend LauraLee who works here and is always bringing me stacks of reject/extra sheets of awesome (and sometimes hilarious) labels.

DSC04513Of course the neighbors don’t get them all.  I saved plenty to have in my hot cocoa!


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DSC03757DSC03707Mike and I didn’t really get into Halloween this year.  Oh sure, we dressed sesame up as a batbaby and went to the Kennedy School where she got some candy and we got beer and then ate her candy.   We didn’t put up decorations or even carve pumpkins and I usually love pumpkin carving!

If the picture below looks blurry around the edges, it’s not just you.  Someone smeared her grubby little fingers on the camera lens.  It gives it kind of a Holga effect, don’t you think?

DSC03724To make up for our lack of Halloween spirit, we celebrated Dia de los Muertos and had so much fun!  We went to the Someday Lounge and decorated the sugar skulls in the picture above.  Lots of people and kids were dressed up and had their faces painted for the occasion.  Sesame and I both wore pink and black knee socks with skulls but they didn’t make it into any picture.  Then we went on a parade around downtown and through the North Park Blocks.   DSC03747Our procession was led by an awesome samba group called the Lions of Batacuda (video link) and as the Someday Lounge aptly put it, they are a marching band fit to raise the dead.  It was great fun, even though we got caught in a downpour during the procession.    Then it was back to Someday Lounge for a dance party on the sidewalk and hot cocoa inside.DSC03749

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