Sunday, October 23, 2011

DIY Lady Owl Costume

I was determined to make my own costume this year...on the cheap. The materials for this little owl costume ended up costing less than twenty dollars! I'm so happy with how it turned out and it was so easy. Anybody could do it and it would be great adapted for kids or even babies (how cute would a Onesie with these little fabric feathers be?).

I was inspired by this really cute homemade owl costume by Chelsea over at Seablanket. She used a pillowcase, but my...girly figure (to put it nicely) wouldn't exactly fit in the pillowcase I tried. Easy solution: clearance dress from Ross. I was originally looking for a mod 60's boxier dress shape, but no luck. I did however find this sweater dress for $7.99. Here's the before :

I went to Joann's, 20% off coupon in hand, to gather fabrics for my costume. The fabric I decided on is actually lining. It's lightweight, cheap, and it has a pretty sheen. I originally bought the zebra fabric thinking it might look feathery  once cut in the right shape. But in the end, I decided against the zebra print.

I cut out large petal shapes from each fabric color. The only problem with the fabric I chose was that it frayed easily. So I ran a little Fray Check along the edges and problem solved. When it came to putting the petals on the dress, my little hot glue gun worked like a charm. Quick and easy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mouth-watering Jalapeno Popper Dip

It's cheesy, it's gooey, it's tangy, it's spicy. Everybody loves this dip! And I mean everyone. Even my friends who don't like spicy food, overcome their aversion to peppers, in order to eat it. It's love at first taste for most. I can't even count how many times I've been asked for the recipe.

This dip incorporates all that is delightful about a jalapeno popper : the creaminess of the cheese, the toasted breadcrumbs, and the heat from the peppers. You can easily adjust the spiciness to your liking. No matter what, this dip aims to please. It's a real guilty pleasure. 

With football season rolling around, this is a handy little recipe, easy to whip up, in a hungry-group-of-football-fans kind of emergency. 

I always serve this dip with toasted baguette slices. The crunch and flavor of the fresh bread is unbeatable. In a pinch, tortilla or pita chips would suffice.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

I always double this recipe and use a 9"x13" Pyrex. Reason: it goes fast and you don't want to deal with hungry friends when the popper dip runs out. Not pretty. And if by some miracle there are leftovers, this dip tastes even better the second time around.
  • 2 (8 oz.) packages of Neufchâtel cheese (labeled as: 1/3 less fat cream cheese), softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced jalapenos
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
  • breadcrumbs (I like to use the garlic and herb flavored crumbs)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • baguette
  • olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a hand mixer, beat together cream cheese and sour cream. Stir in the diced green chilies and jalapenos. Mix in 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese and add freshly ground black pepper, to taste. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins with Streusel Topping

I am loving my first fall in Paradise. Back home by now, it would be rainy and gloomy. Here the sun is still shining, but now there is a slight breeze. The air smells different, good different, and the leaves are beautiful shades of gold and orange. A girl can definitely get used to this. 

Whenever fall rolls around, I think of this recipe. Ok...ok, who am I kidding, I make these muffins all year-round. But they seem especially fitting when summer turns to fall. As these muffins bake, they fill your entire house with the delicious aroma of cinnamon and pumpkin. Every time I make these, I think about how incredible it would be to awake to the smell of them. So if you happen to have family or friends visiting... that you want to should sneak to the kitchen (before they wake up) and get these little guys in the oven. You'd be the best hostess (or host) ever!

Pumpkin Muffins with Streusel Topping and Cream Cheese Drizzle 

Adapted from Stephanie's Kitchen

For the muffins:
3 cups All-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup canned pumpkin

Robot Gifts

I found a lot of robot gifts for Baby Riot that also doubled as decorations for the shower. I want to share them with you, as well as great gifts from other people at the shower, in case any of you know a little boy who loves robots.

Forget the teddy bear, this stuffed robot is the cutest thing ever, right? Riot's gonna love him!

This book is ADORABLE. There are gears that spin, which will be great when the baby gets a little older.

Robot Baby Shower Decor

I wanted to share some of the details from the robot baby shower. 

This is another thrift store frame that I spray painted. It's an easy way to a give a pop of color, as well as label different areas of the shower. There were a lot of people that didn't know each other, so I thought that name tags would be nice. They were especially nice in keeping track of points during the games.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Robot Baby Shower Favors

We go through a lot of bottles of Starbucks Mocha Frappaccino at our house. We buy them by the case at Costco. So I was so excited when I came across this great idea using the bottles over at Kerry's Crafts. I began hoarding the bottles in our mud room, knowing that I would find a use for them eventually.

TA DA! I decided to finally put the bottles to use in creating the favors for my sister's vintage robot-themed baby shower. The first step was getting the sticky labels off. After hand-washing the first ten bottles and slowly peeling off the labels, not without much frustration, it dawned on me to put them in the dishwasher. Not only does the dishwasher get them spic and span, but right after the drying heat cycle the labels peel off so easily. Just make sure you pull them out and take the labels off while the bottles are still warm.

After the lids were clean, I primed them with a primer spray paint. Trust me you're gonna wanna prime the lids, because the Starbucks logo is very dark and will show through. Then I followed up with some sparkly silver spray paint.

Once you have clean bottles and painted lids, it's time to cut the paper. I used a vintage looking paper pad by My Mind's Eye called Complete Boy. I cut the paper into strips 2 1/2" wide and 9 1/2 " long. 

Put a strip of double-stick tape on each edge and a little strip in the center. Wrap the paper around the bottle, secure the edge and voilà...

I punched out circles and robots then ran them through my sticker maker so that they would stick really well to the bottles.

The finishing touch was a little bit of sparkle. I ran Stickles, which I love, around the circles.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Somewhat Sneaky Sloppy Joes

I've never been a huge fan of Sloppy Joes. Mostly because the only ones I'd ever had were as a child, when the men in my family were making them out of a can. They were bland and never looked appetizing. That and they always remind me of that Lunch lady song by Adam Sandler. Suh-lop-pee Joe, slop, Slop-pee Joe. 

That was until I came across this recipe by the Foodie Bride. They taste nothing like typical Sloppy Joes. They have great flavor and they're packed with veggies. Hence the name "Sneaky" Joes. The Foodie Bride blended the veggies in the food processor to sneak them in on her husband. This would also be a great way to sneak veggies in, if you have kids. 

I made a few adjustments like adding chorizo and using sweet hot mustard. I always end up using ground beef, because I always have a ton in the freezer. Next time, I'm going to try it with ground turkey. Either way, I promise you'll love this recipe. It smells incredible and it reheats really well for lunch the next day!

Read on for the recipe...

Makeover Results: Dresser and Hutch

I finished this months ago and am just now posting. Ryan and I got this piece and at a local antique store (to see what it looked like before click here). I fell in love with it, but we had no place to put it. Then it hit me, I still didn't have a desk for my craft room. Why not use it as a workspace/storage? Brilliant! I absolutely love the way it turned out.

If you look at the before pictures, you can see that it was a lavender color, yuck. I've just never been a fan of pastels, not even at Easter. So I decided to go with a neutral color, a cream. As I said earlier, I had the brilliant idea to sand and paint in 100 degree weather. I just think of it as dual-purpose: refinishing a piece of furniture and sweating out all of the toxins in my body.

I didn't do any heavy sanding or use a primer before painting. I just wiped off all the dust, then got to work painting every little nook and cranny. Which, as you can see, there are a lot! That's part of what I loved about this piece: all of the curves and grooves. Avoiding paint drips from all of these curves and grooves, however, was a major pain in my derrière. After two coats, I didn't like the sheen of the paint, too shiny. So I did a third coat with a flat paint in a slightly darker color, the first being brighter than I thought.

The last step : sanding the edges to give it that antique/shabby chic look. I thought that being outside, in the open air, and sanding by hand (not a big electric sander) wouldn't warrant goggles or a mask. Wrong. A word to the wise, wear goggles at least. Even if you don't see much dust coming off. Your eyes will thank you later.

You want to sand every edge that would be exposed over time to rubbing. The beauty of it is, it doesn't have to be perfect. You want it to look worn and old. All those imperfections give it character.

The original piece was meant to be a vanity/dresser, so there was a mirror on the left. The mirror was broken, which was partly why we got such a good deal. We took the mirror out and Ryan cut a piece of steel to fit the opening. He spray-painted it with a metallic silver and then sealed it. Now, I have a fantastic magnetic board.

I like to use antique teacup saucers as little catch-alls. I also filled the thrift store frames (from my sister's baby shower) with some of my favorite photos. The ribbon holder below was 50% off at Michael's recently, which made me a happy girl. I was finally able to wrangle up all of my ribbon.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Robot Baby Shower : Food Details

I wanted to share with you some of the food details from the baby shower. Below are little wrapped chocolates. I like to use Hershey's Nuggets. Ryan printed robot images onto file folder labels and then simply wrapped them around the chocolates. Return address labels are also the perfect size for these little nuggets.

I also used the Robot Party Cricut cartridge to make these super cute cupcake toppers. The mom-to-be requested her favorite: rainbow chip cupcakes. We also made chocolate fudge cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Oh yeah!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Baby Shower Game : the Price is Right

Oh, how I loved the Price is Right when I was a kid. Every summer, I would spend my mornings, bowl of cream of wheat in hand, watching the Price is Right. I had high hopes of winning a showcase showdown some day. A child sure can dream.

That leads me to the third game we played at the shower: the Price is Right, baby edition of course. Ryan and I went to Target and took pictures of about 10 baby-related items: diaper genie, baby food, formula, baby shampoo, diaper cream, baby monitors, etc. Ryan took pictures of the items with his phone, as well as their price tags. We made sure to choose items that had prices with odd change, such as $4.72 or $16.38 versus items ending in .99 or .00, it's more challenging that way.

Ryan took all of the photos and put together a PowerPoint. He even made a game show curtain backdrop. He's so good. During the shower, we hooked the laptop up to the TV, using an S-video cable, so that all the guests could see the products that they were "bidding" on.

Everyone got a mini whiteboard and marker. I used the mini whiteboards from my classroom, but I bought them originally at Target (4 for $1) in the dollar section, by the registers. You can usually find them there during the back-to-school season.

Baby Shower Game : Scattergories

I'm a BIG FAN of game nights. Scattergories being one of my favorite games to play. So I came up with my own version of Baby Edition Scattergories. The categories are general, but I included the mom-to-be and baby's names to personalize it. I printed them off on white cardstock, front and back (two rounds), so that it would be a little easier to write on. Make sure you have lots of pens ready.

If you've never played Scattergories, it's really easy. Each round has a letter (an easy way to choose letters is to use the baby's initials). Once the timer is started, each person writes down a word that fits the category, but it must start with the letter. Once time is up, go around the circle (one category at a time) and have everyone share what they wrote down. If two or more people have the same word, no one gets the point. Each answer that is original gets a point.

Baby Shower Game : Candy Bar Clues

When planning the baby shower, I really wanted to stay away from the typical, completely gross baby shower games, like smell the melted chocolate in the diaper, blindfolded baby food taste test and sucking anything out of a bottle. After scouring the net and brainstorming, I came up with three games : candy bar clues, Scattergories and the Price is Right.

First up, the candy bar clue game. To start with, I laid out all of the candy bars on the floor so that everyone could see them. I had a list of clues to describe each stage of having a baby: conception, pregnancy, the birth and bringing baby home. I've listed a couple of my favorite clues below:

Daddy at conception: Big Hunk
Contractions: Now and Later
Epidurals: Lifesavers
11 pound babies: Whoppers
Time alone for the new parents: Zero

I read the clues aloud and the first person to shout out the correct candy got to keep it. Warning : the more guests you have, the harder it is to figure out who said it first. I'm sure there's a better way to set up this game for larger groups, I just couldn't think of one.

For a full list of the candy bar clues, read on...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Letters to Baby Riot

My sister's baby showers were a success! Over the next few days, I'll be sharing lots of ideas with you all, for a robot-themed baby shower. First up, the letters to baby Riot.

Often at baby showers there is an opportunity to write down advice for the mom. I thought it would be fun to write advice to the baby that would soon be joining us. I was inspired by this letter to baby Violet Marie over at Eat Drink Chic. By inspired, I mean I kept most of the letter's wording. I tried to re-word it, but it was just so perfect. I hope that Amy over at Eat Drink Chic doesn't mind.

I addressed the letters to Riot, my future nephew, leaving the blanks for guests to fill in. The letters were laid out for guests to fill in as they arrived. I made the sign by spray painting a thrift store frame and backing the title with striped cardstock. 


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