Chocolate Leaves

Did I mention I have three boys?  And a husband.  And a male cat.  And two hermit crabs and four frogs who have all been dubbed male by those who care.  Yes, around here it’s all boy, all the time.  No tea with petit fours, no pretty dresses.  You can cut the testosterone with a knife.  And while we’re cutting (watch this segue) just imagine the “manly” cakes I’ve made . . . Thomas, John Deere, Mario and Darth Vader, to name a few.

So it was my delight to make a birthday cake for my friend Kristin recently.  As tempting as it was to go with a full floral theme (and make use of my dusty Wilton instruction booklets), I decided to focus on fall.  It was a small celebration, so I used my Pyrex measuring cup to bake a small spice cake and topped it with white chocolate buttercream frosting:

1/2 C butter, softened

1 C white chocolate chips, melted over a double boiler

1 tsp vanilla

3 C powdered sugar

Then came the fun part!  I printed out a sheet of leaf line drawings.  Then I used melting chocolates in different color combinations and piped them onto wax paper over the leaf templates:

Using a toothpick, I spread and swirled the chocolate to the edges of the templates to create textured leaves:

After letting the chocolates harden in the refrigerator, I covered the cake with the delicious (and might I say girlie?) foliage:

 

Kristin loved it (and so did the boys)!

wool soaps

I recently came across several tutorials for felting wool onto soap and had to try it!  Along with being beautiful and useful (use them like a loofah), they are simple and quick to make!  I am a fan of instant craft-i-fication . . . No, I haven’t finished Henry’s quilt yet (thanks for asking) . . .  but I made these in under an hour:

Here’s What You Need:

wool roving (raw wool which has been cleaned, carded and sometimes dyed)

soap in any shape you like (I didn’t have egg soaps, so I shaved a bar of soap into little bits, added some water and molded it like clay into eggs)

hot water

Here’s What  You Do:

Cover the soap with wool roving.  Use about twice as much as you think you’ll need, because the felting process causes the wool to shrink.  Then, dribble hot water onto the wool and soap with your hands.  Don’t dunk it in the water or the wool will slip off.  Dribble and press, dribble and press.  It will begin to stick together.  Here is a photo tutorial for you visual learners.  Don’t worry that you’re working up a lather in the process — the soap actually helps the wool to felt.  Once it’s beginning to stick together, start rubbing.  Some people use felting mats, but I don’t have any so I just used my hands.  Be sure to rub all sides.  If the lather is taking over, dribble more water to rinse it and then keep rubbing!  The wool is felted when you pull on it with your fingers and it doesn’t pull away.  Let them dry, take some photos, post them to your blog, give them as gifts, or stick them in an Easter basket (you don’t have to tell anyone how easy they were)!

longing for green

This might be one of the first years I’ve ever been impatient for Spring.  I know, I’m a weirdo, but I truly love winter and have relished the cooler weather since moving back North.  This winter, however . . . between “snowmageddon,” a power outage with no heat, and my house-bound children, I am finally tired of the ice and cold, and I need warmth.  And I need green.  The backyard is teasing me with daffodil shoots, reminding me of all the color we’ll have soon.  So, in my impatience, I tried to devise a way to add some green inside.  I’ve had these glass jars ($1 each from the thrift store) sitting around for a while and have spent the winter trying to find a local source for live moss (to no avail).  I’m sure I’ll have more luck in warmer weather, but for now, I bought dried moss (which the woman at the nursery told me might even sprout if kept moist — but I must have used a bit too much moisture because all that grew was mold).  So, here is round two:

I just put a layer of rocks at the bottom, a layer of soil mixed with charcoal (which is very helpful in preventing the mold), and some dried moss.  Ok, ok, I cheated, but it LOOKS like I’m growing live moss, right?  And I’m lovin’ the green!

Needle Felting

Ahhh, the blog neglect has begun.  I knew it would happen . . . but just look at my good excuse!  My free time has been claimed by a new discovery (of a very old craft): needle felting!  If you’re not familiar with the method (I wasn’t), it is done by stabbing wool roving (raw wool that has been cleaned, carded and sometimes dyed) with a special barbed needle until you reach the desired shape.  I love it for its simplicity, for the colors and for its ability to satisfy the fickle and impatient crafter in me!

I started with rattles, inspired by little Henry’s newfound shaking skills which could leave him bruised by other toys.  Then I moved on to the matryoshka dolls, which I haven’t finished but still couldn’t wait to post here:

Once I felt more confident in creating little wool sculptures, I made this, um, woolidermy . . .

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

yes, yes, more hearts

Sick of hearts yet?   I know, I need some new ideas for March . . . but for now, I love all the red!

Especially in the form of sweet cupcake liners like these (I mean, what homie doesn’t love a great cupcake liner?):

And thanks to Amy at Crafts Redesigned, who was featured on the Valentine tutorials at Sew Mama Sew, I was inspired to make this heart wreath to hang over my sink (it’s made from a coat hanger, old fabric scraps and some recycled ribbon from a gift!  Gotta love a $0 project!):

Happy Heart Day!

Heart Felt

I’ve been hoping to come across some old valentines for a while (not that I knew what I was going to do with them).  Perhaps I was searching for the nostalgia or maybe it was a reaction to my boys’ choices of Transformers and Star Wars valentines, which speak to their little hearts in ways to which I cannot relate.  There are plenty of vintage cards online, but most are overpriced (plus shipping), especially for the purpose of crafting rather than collecting.  So I was delighted to find some vintage-inspired cards at a little toy shop.  Cute, cheap and close enough!

Maybe it’s the retro vibe, but some felt and rickrack finally inspired me to make the cards into a banner for our play room windows.

First I sewed around the edge of each card to attach them to the felt (I suggest wool felt for longevity but I used acrylic because I had some on hand):

Pinking shears gave the felt a nice finished edge, and I left some room at the top to cut slits and string each card onto the rickrack:

It looked a little bare until I added the bows, but now I have a Valentine’s Day banner sweet enough for any room in the house: