Atomic Brownies

Julius has four more teeth as of yesterday!  He’s up to 10 teeth total which is half the number of baby teeth he’ll have overall.  I guess that could explain the recent fussiness.  And come to think of it may explain why he keeps running into the bathroom and demanding to use his toothbrush.  I guess he wants to keep those new pearly whites, pearly white.  After the third day in a row that he did this I finally tried to get him to show me inside his mouth.  This is a dangerous task since, much like a baby velociraptor, he tends to chomp on your fingers because he thinks it is funny.   Perhaps this is why it took me another three days to realize he didn’t have just one new tooth but four!

I believe I mentioned last week how we’ve been having different “fun friday” themes at my work.  This one was “Science Friday” which was surprisingly difficult for a lot of people.  I made a skirt, which I’ll show you how to make next week, and some fun themed brownies for my co-workers.  Of course – since I am an engineer and work with lots of engineers I feel the need to point out that these brownies are entirely fictional atoms.  I also need to point out that I am aware that helium doesn’t have 3 electrons (though I thank the multiple people who brought this up before eating the brownies).  And while we’re at it I’ll throw in that I know the Rutherford model is inaccurate (but that Rutherford is mostly irrelevant when you are devouring brownies).  Finally I know for a fact that these brownies are adorable and delicious, as evidenced by the lack of brownies I brought home from work on Friday.

Atomic Brownies

What you’ll need:

  • 2 – 6 muffin tins
  • brownie batter from here
  • offset spatula
  • size 2 pastry tip & pastry bag
  • mini baking m&ms or m&m minis
  • m&ms
  • vanilla frosting
  • chocolate frosting
  1. Grease muffin cups or line with cupcake liners.
  2. Make brownie mix and pour into 12 greased/lined muffin cups (fill about half full about 1/4 cup of mix)
  3. Bake brownies for 15 to 18 minutes, using care not to overcook them.
  4. When brownies are done, let sit in pans on wire racks until fully cooled (around 15 to 20 minutes).
  5. When brownies are completely cool, run a knife around the edge of the muffin tin and pull brownie out.  Repeat for other brownies.
  6. Stir frosting until soft – if I can’t get the light fluffy consistency I’m looking for I’ll using a hand mixer to whip the frosting into shape.
  7. Take a dollop of vanilla frosting with the offset spatula and smooth it onto the surface, holding the spatula level and turning the brownie.  Repeat for other brownies.
  8. Fill pastry bag with chocolate frosting and fit pastry bag with #2 tip. Draw an electron ring in the center of the cookie.
  9. Turn the cookie 1/6 of a turn.  Draw a second ring over the first ring.
  10. Turn the cookie 1/6 of a turn again.  Draw a third ring over the first two.
  11. Take 2 full size m&ms in one color and 2 full size m&ms in a second color and place in the center of the rings, alternating colors.
  12. Place a third color of mini m&m in each of the electron shells around the nucleus.  
  13. Give them to a group of engineers and watch them scoff*.

*As a side note, I’m concerned Randall Monroe is out to get me because he posted this comic on “Science Friday”.  I knew  I wasn’t the only computer engineer who didn’t remember the difference between the Rutherford and Bohr models!  I was just behind on my XKCD reading that morning!

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Tulle Infinity and Beyond


Even though Julius doesn’t really talk much, he is so much easier to communicate with now.  He seems to understand what we say a lot of the time and frequently will help me accomplish tasks like, bringing his bottle to the dishwasher to be washed, cleaning up the toilet paper he has ripped into bits or picking up the pile of items he has thrown all over the floor.  He is a destructive but repentant force.

I’ve started playing hide and seek with him and he usually loves it.  Well mostly I hide and he “seeks”.  He’s actually quite good at it!  I think it originally started as chase, but then I started hiding around corners and he would tentatively hunt for me.  The most impressive instance was the time when he found me in the closet with no hints.  He must have heard the door close!  Usually I have to cough a few times to lead him my direction…

Well the new year is bringing lots of new craft and food project ideas to the Colton household.  You may remember that I used to do Hawaiian shirt day every Friday at work in the summers which morphed into “Fancy Friday” though I was the only one that really observed Fancy Friday.  Eventually my co-workers agreed to do “Flannel Friday” with me in the fall and we got a pretty big group going wearing flannel and looking like hipsters.  A new co-worker joined our group and now we’ve migrated from Flannel Friday to Fun Friday.  A small group of us pick the attire for our team (around 100 people) to wear to work every week.

I think most people initially thought we were crazy, but around the holidays we held an ugly sweater Friday and people really got into it.  My manager, who is extremely fashionable, got a lot of grief because she wore a very trendy sweater on ugly sweater day while the rest of us looked like hot garbage.  To make up for her blunder, she was shamed into leaving work and driving to Walmart to buy the ugliest sweater she could find.  She came back with the most hideous invention I saw that day – complete with cats and LEDs.  Off record I think she won the contest.  Officially though, she opted out of the contest because she had to attend a meeting with my 4th level manager.  I’m proud to say she wore the sweater.

Julius LOVED my sweater.  My sweater, also from Walmart, featured half of a stuffed unicorn (the front half) glued to a polyester sweater.  He kept hugging the unicorn and flipping the sweater over to find (without avail) the unicorn’s other half.  I’m a little disappointed I didn’t make the sweater, but after seeing it I didn’t think it was top-able.  (Though I apparently hadn’t seen the cat sweater.)  This month is a bit tamer in terms of fashion, but I ordered some fabric specifically for the Fun Friday at the end of the month.  You’ll have to wait to see the fabric, but I’ve created what I think is a neat underskirt to add a little extra flair to any full skirt or little black dress you own.  The neat part is that the tulle portion is interchangeable!

Interchangeable Tulle Petticoat

What you’ll need:

  • 2.5 yards of medium weight linen or other breathable fabric
  • 3 yards of tulle
  • 16 to 18 sets of snaps
  • 1 yard of 1.5″ wide elastic (mine was recycled from a pair of Will’s boxers…)
  • Simplicity Pattern 1459 K5* or pattern here if you are size 4/6

*I used this Simplicity pattern as my basis – I’m a size US 4/6 so if you need another size you’ll have to follow my instructions to modify the pattern.

**Pictures and pattern will be posted 1/16/19!  Please stop back!

  1. Measure the distance from your waist to your knee and subtract 5″.  Take piece 8 from the Simplicity pattern and shorten pattern to the length you calculated.  (Skip if using my modified pattern.)
  2. Cut out 4 pieces of linen from pattern.
  3. Pin pieces together at sides and stitch 1/4″ from the unfinished edge.  Trim seam to 1/8″.  Repeat for all 4 seams.
  4. Press each seam so the unfinished edge is on the inside.  Stitch 1/4″ from fold.  This is called a French seam and prevents the unfinished edge from unraveling.  Press seam to one side.  Repeat step 4 for other 3 seams.
  5. Measure your waist and cut your elastic 1/2″ shorter than your waist length.
  6. Pin the ends of the elastic together and serge along edge.  Optional: open seam out and coverstitch over serged edge to make it lie flat.
  7. Mark along the edge of the edge of the elastic at 8 equidistant points by pressing flat then folding in half and in half again and marking at all the folds.
  8. At the waistband portion of the skirt (the narrower pattern pieces) mark the middle of each panel and each fold, forming 8 marks total.
  9. Pin the elastic to the waistband portion of the skirt, right sides together, matching marks.  With the elastic unstretched, the linen material will have a large amount of excess.  Simply roughly pleat that to match the width of the unstretched portion of elastic.
  10. Serge the elastic and linen together, working from one set of markings to another at a time.  Stretch each section before you serge it, letting the excess linen material that you pleated stretch to form a narrower pleat.  Repeat for the whole skirt.
  11. Turn right sides out.  Press.
  12. Try on the skirt, it should be about 5″ above your knees, if not, cut the hem down until it is 5″ above your knee.
  13. Hem the bottom of the skirt with a 1/2″ rolled hem.
  14. Insert snaps along the bottom of the skirt at 6″ intervals, alternating male and female snap connectors.  (Should be about 16 snaps).
  15. Cut 16’x3 yd strip of tulle.
  16. Cut a 1.5″x3 yd strip of linen.
  17. Fold tulle in half.Pin a strip of linen to the tulle, with the raw side of the linen lined up with the fold.
  18. Serge the edge.
  19. Form a rolled hem around the serged edge. Pin & stitch.
  20. Insert snaps along the hem you just created at 6″ intervals, alternating male and female.
  21. Repeat steps 15 to 20 for all colors of tulle desired!

To wear, snap tulle to skirt and put dress or skirt over!

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Reusable Resolutions

Well it wouldn’t be January without a nod to some resolutions for this year.  I have probably mentioned this before, but I try to make concrete commitments for the new year.  For example instead of “work out more” I say “do yoga twice a week”; instead of “eat healthy” I say “eat vegetarian two days a week” and instead of “lose more sleep” I say “post a blog entry once a week”.  Well I have one category this year that is throwing me for a loop.  I’d like to reduce our family’s environmental impact this year and Will said he would help me achieve that goal.  The problem is, it’s too darn vague.  Lately I have been thinking about reducing our waste (both trash and recycling) and started looking into ways to do this.  Since we already compost and recycle everything we can (above and beyond curb side recycling), I think the best way to create less waste is to buy less packaging.

Our biggest sources of waste (recycling, compost or trash) are from online shopping and food packaging from the grocery store.  Online shopping I can limit.  I’ll start condensing packages from Amazon and limiting my orders to monthly.  Or maybe I can have other friends go in on orders with me or something.  That one doesn’t seem that hard.  Food packaging is so much more difficult because of this little thing called the Department of Public Health (DPH).  First I tried locating what west coasters refer to as “package free stores”.  I was shocked to find that there is a strange dirth of these, not only around us in rural MA, but also in the more crunchy parts around Boston.  So instead, Will & I tried at multiple grocery stores to purchase bulk food using our own containers.  We were met with resistance due to employees not knowing if this was considered sanitary by the DPH.  Made me happy they are actively thinking about this – but frustrated for the environment!

I was still not twarted!  I decided to contact the DPH myself and find out the deal.  They responded VERY PROMPTLY with a link to the code governing retail food establishments and some key passages: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2019/01/04/Merged-Food-Code-11-16-18.pdf.  The bottom line?  Reusable cups provided by the customer are okay for beverages in certain circumstances, but reusable containers provided by the customer are never okay for food*.  Wow.  No wonder there are almost no BYO bag “package free stores” in Massachusetts – they are basically illegal!  On top of that, most food has to be completely covered in plastic to be sell-able.  I thought there might be contingencies for dry food like rice or beans, but the only exclusion I found is that there is no need for packaging for “nuts in the shell and whole, raw fruits and vegetables that are intended for hulling, peeling, or washing by the CONSUMER before consumption”.   Well there goes my plan.  Maybe I misread something?  To be continued… (I hope.)

Don’t let this stop your waste reduction though fellow Massholes!  There are still lot’s of ways you can make a difference.  For example I gave out reusable bamboo forks, knives and spoons as gifts this year.  Like me, my friends bring their lunch a lot of the time and frequently consume items that require silverware.  Most of the time this means using a disposable fork or spoon from the cafe.  Even if we save 50 forks from the landfill over a year per person I will be delighted.

My homemade Christmas gift this year.

Plus this gift is so economical I could give myself a present!   I have a set in my lunch bag for daily use and in my pocket book for just in case.  Each utensil can be purchased for $1.20 a piece and the pattern for the holder is below.  I hope this will inspire you to make your own little changes to help save the planet.

*from section 3-304.17 entitled “Refilling Returnables”

Reusable Utensil Holder

What you’ll need:

  • Either:
  • Heavyweight scrap fabric such as denim, upholstery weight velvet, canvas etc.
  • Lightweight scrap fabric to be used as contrast/lining
  • Or:
  • Medium weight scrap fabric
  • Single fold bias tape .5″ wide
  • Size 16 dritz snap
  • Pattern here
  1. Cut out pattern pieces as directed.
  2. Pin lining fabric to outer fabric for both pieces.
  3. Along the flat surface of the pocket fabric, open out the bias tape and place along the unfinished edge, outer fabric to right side of bias tape, pining along the bias tape fold line.  Stitch along the fold line.  Fold bias tape over unfinished edge, pin in place and stitch close to the first set of stitching, enclosing the entire edge.
  4. Lay pocket on top of backing, with lining material on the inside.  (Match the marks on the backing with the top of the pocket.)
  5. Open out bias tape as you did in step 3 with the fold 1/2″ from the edge, with unfinished edges parallel to one another.  Fold over the starting edge of the bias tape so the seam looks finished.  Pin all around the perimeter in this fashion, overlapping the start of the tape by half an inch.
  6. Stitch.
  7. Trim the seam to match the unfinished edge of the bias tape then fold the bias tape over the unfinished edge, pin in place and stitch close to the first set of stitching, enclosing the entire edge.
  8. Insert utensils into pouch and fold flap down over them so it holds utensils in snuggly.  Mark location for snap.
  9. Insert snap following manufacturer’s instructions  with the male end on the pocket and female end on the back of the flap so it will snap together when the flap is closed.
  10. Toss in your lunch bag and save the planet!

You may notice I have both a rounded flap and a pointed flap – I included both shapes in the pattern, just choose which you want when adding the bias tape.

 

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The Force is Strong with this Dog

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and have great plans for ringing in the New Year tonight.  (Just so you know great plans can include going to bed early and greeting the new year well rested!)  Will, Julius and I celebrated “Lancaster Christmas” yesterday.  “Lancaster Christmas” is the one in which Santa shows up 6 days late bearing toys for Julius and lottery tickets and way too much half-priced candy for the adults.  Boy is Santa running behind (or he was just being frugal)!  We had a great time opening presents, despite a small disagreement between Dany and Julius over a stuffed llama that Dany received from Santa.  Poor Dany!  She pouted the rest of the day.  Julius and Dany really are like a pair of siblings!

Speaking of Dany, you may have noticed that she was sporting a fancy new lightsaber toy on the back of our Christmas card!  Well I made that lightsaber for her before I took the photo and I think it was a hit!  Since the photo shoot it has been torn in half and its insides have been removed.  That is the highest praise you can get with a dog toy!  If you want to make one yourself the instructions are below.  I used all scrap fabric and recycled components for mine, making it effectively free.

Lightsaber Dog Toy

  • 1 sq foot of thick grey fabric
  • 1/3 yard of 20″ or wider fabric in purple
  • 1/3 yard of 20″ or wider iridescent shimmer fabric (optional, but makes it look neat)
  • 1 party size potato chip bag
  • Squeaker 
  • Stuffing
  • The handle pattern here – note it is zipped, please unzip the .pes file before using.
  1. Take your thick grey fabric and embroider the handle pattern above using a 5″x8″ hoop.
  2. Cut around the embroidery to form an 8″x10″ square (the center line will be parallel to the short 8″ edge.
  3. Fold in half with the right side inside and stitch along the long edge.
  4. Using the scrap fabric leftover from the handle, cut out a 3″ diameter circle.
  5. Pin the circle (right side facing in) to end of the handle (closer to the shorter, thicker stripes).  Stitch.
  6. Turn right side out, stuff with stuffing and a squeaker and set aside.
  7. Take your iridescent fabric and your purple fabric and cut two 20″x5″ piece of each.
  8. Place the iridescent fabric pieces are sandwiched inside the two pieces of purple fabric.  
  9. Pin along the long end of the rectangle,over the end of the lightsaber and back down the other side, curving at the top. Stitch.
  10. Turn right side out and stuff with the potato chip bag.
  11. Hand stitch the handle to the purple saber.
  12. Remember this is a dog toy that is meant to be destroyed so don’t worry about getting it perfect.
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Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas!  Whether you celebrate or not I hope your day is fabulous!  We’re celebrating with my in-laws this year and I’m writing this minutes before we leave for the children’s church service.  We took Julius to see Santa earlier in the week, and though he doesn’t seem to understand that he is coming tonight, he does seem to recognize him and points him out on lots of different objects and pictures.

Yesterday we drove to see Julius’ great grandparents and on the way back he was getting a bit fussy.  Luckily his aunt Lauren had brought along a silly dog toy for him that barks Jingle Bells.  At some point during the drive I had to call Walmart customer service (longer story) and Julius listened intently to the call.  They were on speaker phone and asked for my order number, to which I responded with a brief pause and “umm, one moment” followed up immediately by a choir of dog barks which I guess Julius decided was the perfect hold music.  I could not keep it together after that.

This year we decided to go all in on Star Wars for our Christmas card after seeing Julius as an ewok on Halloween.  Here’s what we came up with:

Julius and I wore the same costume as Halloween, but I thought Will’s costume looked a bit too manufactured.  I didn’t have time to do too much so I kept the shirt and vest and focused on the bottom half of his outfit only (ironic since it is the only half that doesn’t show in the Christmas cards). I bought some navy blue pants at the thrift store and added a red and black striped piece of trim along the seam of each leg for the Corellian blood stripes.  I didn’t want to invest in real black riding boots, so instead I bought a piece of pleather and threw together some boot covers.  They took me less than half an hour to make and with his black dress shoes they worked really well.

Han Solo Knee High Boot Covers

  • 1 yard of black pleather fabric
  • 12 inches of black elastic
  • Waxed paper (optional – see note below)
  • pattern here

** NOTE: If you have any issues with the pleather sticking to your presser foot, simply place waxed paper above and below the pleather to surround it and stitch right through it.  After you are done sewing you can just rip away the waxed paper. 

  1. Cut out two pieces of pleather using the pattern here
  2. Fold one boot cover in half and pin along the unfinished edge.  Stitch.
  3. Fold the top of the boot cover down 1/2″ and stitch along the edge to finish it.
  4. Finish the bottom of the boots on the “stirrup” side by folding under 1/2″.  Stitch.
  5. Turn boot inside out.
  6. Attach a 6″ piece of elastic to the inside of one of the boot covers at the stirrup end.
  7. Attach other end of elastic to other stirrup.
  8. Repeat steps 2 through 7 for other boot. 
  9. Grab your ewok and wear with pride.
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King for a Day

Today is going to be the last post I do about projects for Julius’ first birthday unless someone requests I post another tutorial.  First though, I have some stories about Julius.

Our friends gave Julius an alphabet puzzle for Christmas which he was extremely excited about.  It came packaged in shrink wrap so after he was done carrying it around for a while I helped him open it up.  He immediately picked it up and held it vertically and the pieces all fell out.  He handed me pieces while I put it back together for him.  When the puzzle was complete he handed me the shrink wrap.  I realized what he wanted, but with no way to give it to him, I just sort of laid it on top of the puzzle and said “all done!”  Satisfied, he picked up the puzzle again to resume carrying it around the house.  Immediately he held it vertically again, dumping the pieces to the floor.  He looked down, saw what happened and then threw the plastic shrink wrap as if to say “well this was garbage”.  I thought it was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

Julius still doesn’t talk, but he is definitely better at getting his intentions across than ever before.  For the first time ever I felt like I really understood what he wanted.  After he woke up this morning, I changed his diaper and gave him a bottle of milk while we sat in the chair in his bedroom.  When he had finished the milk he pointed to his crib.  Sheepy was lying in his crib so I picked him up and gave him his stuffed animal.  But then he looked right back at the crib expectantly.  So I put him down in the crib and he immediately rolled over and went back to sleep!  He NEVER goes back to sleep after he wakes up for the day, but he’s recovering from a cold, so it is not surprising he needed some extra z’s.  But this is the first time he has pretty much asked to go to sleep.  Amazing!

You know what else is amazing?  This craft!  The crown is SUPER EASY to make – with just some basic cutting and sewing skills and some cheap felt you can make crowns for all your tiny royalty!  I modeled these crowns after the invitation I found on evite, and if you’re feeling so inclined you can bejewel them with decorations, or for older guests, let them decorate their own.  Since our guests were all less than one year old I decided to minimize choking hazards and leave them unadorned.   These should fit most princes and princesses from 0 to 3 years old.

Of course the owner of Whimsical Brims had a son who dislikes hats… He only will wear his crown for about 5 seconds. So here’s a picture of the king of the vacuum.

Royal Prince and Princess Crown

What you’ll need (per crown):

  1. Print out crown pattern and trace onto felt.
  2. Cut (I cut a couple crowns at once by pinning two pieces of felt together).
  3. Place one end of crown over the other end, overlapping.
  4. Pin a piece of velcro along the bottom of the crown where the two edges overlap, one on each side, so when the velcro overlaps it will form a crown.  (Note I used a slightly different sized piece of velcro for the loop portion of velcro since I always need more length of loop tape.  But you can make them both 5″ as I mention in the directions.)
  5. Stitch along the border of each piece of velcro.
  6. When placing the hat on the child’s head make sure the hook side (the scratchy side) of the velcro faces out.  Adjust sizing by velcro to fit child’s head.

    Finn is testing the crown out!

    Please, no photos, the king insists.

    Vicky modeling her crown.

    Joanna is being shy with her crown.

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The Main Dish

I just want to take a quick minute to say something to all my readers out there.  Thank you for reading!  Your support and continued cheery comments, or remarks on my projects when I see you in person, are the reason I haven’t given up on this blog endeavor.  Do you know how much I love hearing from you, readers?  Well, every few days I manually go through the comments on my blog.  99.6% of them are spam from Russian bots or ads for penis enhancements, but for every 249 disturbing spam comments I find that one real comment from you, dear readers, that puts a smile on my face.  That one real comment is the reason I continue to manually weed through my comments day in day out.  “Why don’t you just get a better plugin to weed out the spam comments?” I hear you ask.    Well, that’s a good question.

As promised, this week and next week I’m going to show you how to make another craft from Julius’ first birthday party.  After the birthday segment concludes I’ll show you some of the Christmas crafts that I’m making for folks this year.  (This is partially because I don’t want to give any family reading my blog any spoilers, but mostly because I haven’t made anything yet.  Oops.)

This week I’m going to show you how I did the “Hey Diddle Diddle” dish ran away with the spoon plates.  For this project, I had a lot of help from my brother and sister in law when they should have been sleeping while their son slept!  Thank you both!  For this craft you’ll need two plates per place setting, one in clear and one in an opaque color scheme.  Ideally two plates that fit inside one another like these are the best choice.  I know, I know, the environmentalist in me is kicking herself for doubling the trash.  If you’re like me you’ll get plates that are at least recyclable or compostable…

Dish-Ran-Away-with-the-Spoon Plate

What you’ll need (per plate):

  • 1 clear plastic plate (see note above)
  • 1 opaque plate (see note above)
  • 1 plastic spoon
  • 1 sheet of cardstock
  • black sharpie
  • acrylic paint
  • Glue tape or Advanced tape glider or even a glue gun would work
  • arm pattern and face templates here
  1. Take one of your clear plates and flip is so the back side is facing you.
  2. Draw a cartoon face on the back of the plate in sharpie (Can’t draw?  Print these sheets out then trace one of these designs my brother created instead!)
  3. Using a paintbrush, color in any areas where you don’t want the plate color to show through.  For instance – the whites of eyes, mustaches, teeth, tongues etc.  Let dry.
  4. When the paint has dried, apply a bit of glue tape around the top edge of the opaque plate and press the clear plate on top.  (My plates didn’t quite fit within each other so I couldn’t quite do this.)
  5. Next, cut out two arms on your cardstock using the template provided.
  6. Arrange the arms on a table under your plate as you’d like them to appear.  The arms must be under the base of the plate by at least an inch.
  7. Make sure the thumbs are facing the correct direction, then remove the plate and put a bit of tape glue on the base of each arm.  Firmly press the plate on top of the arms, fixing them in place.
  8. Take your spoon and place it in the palm of one of the hands you just glued.  Apply glue tape to the side of the spoon closer to the wrist.  Gently curve the mitten portion of the hand over the spoon and into the blob of glue tape, pressing firmly to secure.

 

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Nursery Rhyme 1st Birthday Party

Well a couple weeks ago we finally held a baby party for Julius’ first birthday!  Since my family was all in town and wanted to participate we held a little party after Thanksgiving in honor of his big day.  Over the coming weeks I’m going to post how-to’s of some of the crafts I did to prepare for the party, so stay tuned.

Invitations

As (almost) always I used evite.  After some searching I found this adorable card:

This is what I wrote inside:

Little boy blue just turned one!  Come celebrate in nursery rhyme land with pizza, calzones, cake and fun!  

Setup

There were four babies in attendance (Julius included), ranging in age from 5.5 to 12 months.  I decided to make the party Mother Goose nursery rhyme themed and set about making the house into a whimsical playland.  (Or I should say my sister and her girlfriend set about making the house into a playland – thank goodness they came early to help me set up!)  I got a new laptop with a cool active pen so I decided to draw up plans for the whole event setup.  Here’s what the setup looked like – there was something in every room.

Julius’ 1st birthday setup

Activities

Crowns and nursery rhyme book favors

In the main entryway I had a little table setup with pink and blue felt crowns (instructions in another post) that matched the invitations and copies of The Pudgy Book of Mother Goose which were the favors for the kiddos.  After searching around I decided board books were one thing that were age appropriate for the entire age range of babies attending.  I tied the whole theme together with an inexpensive decoration – next to each activity I included a poster board “scroll” with a line of verse from one of the rhymes in the book.

Crowns and nursery rhyme book favors

Humpty Dumpty Ball Pit

Through the door on the left (the lounge) I setup a tiny 5′ diameter ballpit with 400 balls.  It was Will’s great idea to make this room “Humpty Dumpty” themed, so instead of falling off a wall, my brother drew an incredible freehand drawing of Humpty Dumpty diving into a ball pit!  In my opinion, this was the hit of the party!  Julius loved (and still loves) his ball pit and every baby there was able to play with it in some capacity.  For the adults we had adult beverages and soda available on top of the bar.

Humpty Dumpty Ball pit

Hey Diddle Diddle Dining

In the adjoining room I had the dining room set up for seating for lunch with a “Hey Diddle, Diddle” theme.  We didn’t have a house cat stuffed animal large enough, so we improvised with a tiger and a fiddle table decoration, and plates themed as the “dish ran away with the spoon” (instructions in a future post).

Cat and the fiddle and dishes running away with the spoons

Hey Diddle Diddle Dining room

Little Miss Muffet Photo Corner

In the kitchen we set up a buffet of kid friendly foods and cupcakes for folks to grab as they wanted.  Right next to the food area, where someone might be seen eating curds and whey perhaps, we had a Little Miss Muffet scene set up for the parents to take pictures of their children.  You may remember the spider from a Halloween post – apparently I’ve become quite attached to him.

Little Master Muffet

Pat-a-Cake Salt Dough

In the living room we had a pat-a-cake salt dough station setup around the coffee table with cookie, cutters, biscuit cutters, a tiny rolling pin and 4 zip lock bags of home made salt dough.  Depending on the child’s age the parents let them play with the dough inside or outside of the bag.  Then with adult help everyone made a handprint ornament by rolling a circle of dough to 3/8″ thick and gently pressing their child’s hand in the dough, starting the with heel of their hand and gently unrolling their child’s fingers.  The good news is you can do this multiple times until it works!  More detailed instructions are below.

Mary Had a Little Lamb Photo Spot

In a stroke of insanity I decided to make a stuffed sheep for a Mary had a Little Lamb photo spot.  I have instructions for this that I will post in the future, but honestly I think it is easier if you just buy a sheep.  The only cool thing about my sheep is you can always add or remove fluff to/from this sheep easily.  Unfortunately, this sheep is not a toy and should only be used with adult supervision.  It does make for a cute photo though.

Food

I kept the menu very simple and for once made almost nothing myself (with the exception of the cupcakes)

  • Calzones – The place I ordered these from has Calzone rolls that can be cut into nice slices
  • Party Pizza – This is a Rhode Island delicacy from my childhood – it is sometimes called red pizza or tomato pie it is essentially pizza with no cheese on top.  It sounds disgusting but is actually really delicious.
  • Chips and Popcorn
  • Vanilla Cupcakes – I used this recipe which made a very dense, eggy cupcake, which actually got rave reviews.  For icing I ended up using classic Pillsbury white frosting in the can (don’t tell Martha), which I quickly whipped and spooned into an icing bag before frosting.

Salt Dough Ornaments

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups of flour
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 1 drinking straw
  • 4 quart zip lock bags
  • 4 6″x6″squares parchment paper
  • 4 6″x6″ pieces of cardboard

This recipe makes ornaments for 4 babies.  We used the recipe here

  1. Mix salt and flour and slowly add water into you form a fairly dry dough.  Work the dough with your hands incorporating all the flour.  Place the dough in the fridge in a zip lock bag until ready to use.
  2. Take a 2″ diameter ball of dough and flatten until it is slightly wider than your baby’s hand span and about 3/8″ thick.  (You may need slightly more or less dough depending on the child’s size.)
  3. Gently but firmly press your child’s hand into the dough, heel of the hand first, rolling the hand into the dough up to the fingertips.
  4. Gently remove the child’s hand from the dough.
  5. Use the straw to poke a hole in the dough about 1/2″ from the edge of the ornament.
  6. For guests to transport their ornaments – place the ornament on parchment paper and place parchment paper on top of cardboard.  Insert everything into the ziplock bag, remove air and seal.  Leave the ornament in the bag until you will bake your dough, or alternatively leave the dough out to air dry.
  7. Bake dough at 325 degrees F until dry – about 20 minutes.  Paint ornament if desired.

 

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Towelasaurus

Well we all had quite an exciting weekend!  Julius, Will, Dany and I all went to my parent’s house for the long Thanksgiving weekend!  We were joined by my brother, my sister in law and my nephew as well as my sister and her girlfriend.  Julius had lots of time to play with family while crazy Aunt Lexi and Uncle Will got to hang out with a slightly squishier baby nephew who is very smiley and giggly!

It has become apparent that Will loves babies.  It’s really very cute.  When he’s around any 5 month old baby he always asks to hold them and remarks how Julius isn’t that snuggly anymore.  It’s true to some extent – at five months they are still squishy so they mold nicely to your arms but aren’t as fragile as earlier in their life so there is less need to be so delicate with them.  Perfect snuggling age.  At a year though, or actually even at 10 months when he was crawling, Julius comes over and demands snuggles and hugs from you.  Squishy babies can’t do that; they instead complacently sit there and marinate in your love or else cry until you figure out snuggles is what they need.

Speaking of marinating, Julius had lots of delicious food for Thanksgiving (or as I called it, Turkey Party)!  He loved mashed potatoes and gravy, my aunt’s tourtiere, corn succotash, and pumpkin soup, though he didn’t seem to like the turkey.  He kept throwing it on the floor (presumably for the dog?) a practice he does when he doesn’t like something.  He doesn’t seem to be a chicken fan either, unless it’s slathered in something.  I guess he takes after daddy in that regard.  Either way I am just overjoyed he likes his veggies!

You know what else Julius loves?  Bath time!  He loves to splash in the tub and play with his tub toys.  For his birthday I got him this bath set that comes with 3 floating “water bugs” and a little net to catch them in.  He loves it!  He carries it around with him everywhere, in the water and out.  On top of that he spent at least 30 minutes trying to capture the bugs in the bath the first time he used it.  He first used the net, but then the bugs would float out of the net and “escape” whenever he put the net underwater.  He became suspicious of the integrity of the net and instead captured them in his hands and put them in the net.  Unfortunately the bugs continued to escape when he’d release them into the net.  The darn things just wouldn’t stay put in the net (thanks to flotation).  Eventually he skipped the net altogether, and just captured the bugs with his hands and stuck them underneath his legs to hold them down.  Of course they’d float back to the surface anytime he moved so this didn’t work 100% of the time either.  Watching Julius play with the water bugs was the most hilarious thing I’ve witnessed in a long time.

At the end of bath time we wrap Julius up in a hooded towel and give him lots of snuggles!  We used to use these tiny hooded towels we had when he was a baby, but by 6 months he was too long for them.  At that point we upgraded to a hooded towel we got from a family friend.  One towel is just not enough, so I thought I’d make another one, this one with a fun dinosaur theme!

Hooded Dino Towel

What You’ll Need:

  • Two full size towels
  • 1/8 yd green fleece (mine was scrap)
  • black and white machine or hand embroidery thread and supplies
  • Pattern for scales here
  1. Cut a 12”x21” piece of towel so that one of the long edges is the finished edge of the towel.
  2. Fold piece of towel in half to form a 12”x10.5” rectangle.
  3. Pin along the unfinished edge adjacent to the fold, curving slightly at the point.
  4. Set pinned towel aside and cut 8 scales, adding .5” seam allowance all around.
  5. Pin and stitch two scales together leaving the flat side opened.
  6. Notch along curve and clip seams.
  7. Turn scale right side out and repeat for other 3 scales.
  8. Insert scales between the  two pieces of towel you pinned. Re-pin.
  9. Stitch and serge along the towel edge and curve
  10. Embroider eyes onto either side of the towel.  (I used a machine and this pattern I made, but you can do this by hand)
  11. Fold full size towel in half.  Wrong sides together, pin the bottom of the hood to the towel, lining up edges.  Stitch, slightly into the fluffy part of the towel, past the edging.
  12. Trim the unfinished edge of the hood.
  13. Fold hood up so the unfinished edge of the hood is covered by the edging of the towel.  Pin.
  14. Stitch close to the edge of the edging to enclose the unfinished edge of the hood.

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My Little Pumpkin

I know I start the posts like this a lot, but very recently Julius has started doing the cutest thing!  He helps me clean up!  Last night I accidentally left a bottle of milk on the upholstered bench upstairs and the bottle wasn’t put together properly and leaked all over the bench, staining it.  I was very frustrated, but this morning I got together some dish soap and water (internet recommendation) to clean it up.  I started working the mixture into the stain with my fingertips and Julius watched me intently and started helping.  Afterwards I started scrubbing it with a cloth and I handed Julius the cloth and he continued the process.  Later today I got Julius all cleaned up while he was sitting in his high chair and then started wiping down his high chair table.  I put the cloth down for a second and he grabbed the cloth and continued wiping!  What a big helper!

This evening I got home from work and Julius pointed to the closet where we keep our shoes and coats.  I opened it up and explained to him exactly what it was for and then put my shoes in the closet (my shoes had been strategically sitting in the middle of the floor ready to trip someone).  Julius then spent several minutes working to shut the door himself (it is in a tricky spot so he kept getting trapped between the closet door and our back door.)  I decided to bring him his shoes, and he immediately reopened the door (laboriously) then took a shoe and put it on the top shelf!  I told him what a good job he had done and then he grabbed the shoe off the top shelf, put it on the floor next to the other one, grabbed them both by the backs using one hand, then thought better of it and chucked one into the door.  My theory is that he saw me grabbing the shoes with one hand and thought that was the right way to do it, but his little hands prevented him from executing and he got frustrated and threw them.  Who knows?  Either way my little pumpkin is growing up fast!

You know what else is going by fast?  Fall!  We are already onto the second snow of the year tonight, though we haven’t even had a single cider donut!  Tragedy!  I’ve been drinking pumpkin beer like they are going out of style (or season) though so at least I’ve got that base covered.  Keep fall around a bit longer by using the stems of your sugar pumpkins to make one of these super cute velvet pumpkins!

Velvet Pumpkin

What you’ll need:

  • 16” diameter circle of velvet
  • Embroidery thread in contrasting color
  • 1 real pumpkin top from a sugar pumpkin (I was able to pull them directly off all my sugar pumpkins before I cooked them for pie.
  • Stuffing
  • Hot glue gun
  • Needle & thread
  1. Stitch a long running stitch around the entire perimeter of your circle of velvet, about 1/4” from the edge.
  2. Begin gathering the stitches to form a pouch.
  3. Stuff full of stuffing until fairly firm, then pull the stitches closed.
  4. Stitch a couple stitches to close the hole, then re-stitch through the gathers for added strength and stitch a couple more stitches to finish it.
  5. Stitch and knot 3 strands of embroidery thread into the top of the pumpkin.
  6. Traverse the pumpkin longitudinally and then you get back to the starting point, pull tight to form a ridge in the pumpkin then stitch to tie off.
  7. Repeat 2 more times forming 6 segments of the pumpkin.
  8. Squish the top of the pumpkin down and move the stuffing around to make room for the stem. 
  9. Knot 3 more strands of embroidery thread to the top of the pumpkin, insert directly through the center of the pumpkin to the underside.  Loop over the 3 threads segmenting the pumpkin and back up into the pumpkin back into the top.  Pull tight to form an indentation, then knot to secure.
  10. Make sure your pumpkin stem is completely dry (I waited a week) then coat the bottom of the stem in hot glue and press it onto your pumpkin covering up the gathering stitches and embroidery knots.
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