Living in Pinteresting Times

Letting the internet inspire creativity, and the results that come from it

Gender Reveal Puzzle July 29, 2013

Filed under: Baby Shower,Celebrations,Crafts,Generic — MKCoehoorn @ 6:56 pm
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It’s a common thing now to have a gender reveal party when one is pregnant.  Some reveal through the color of a cake.  Others fill a box with balloons which they then open.  My friend Lyle and his wife got a little more creative with their reveal.  Lyle is the owner of a landscape architecture company and pretty handy with tools.  So he and his wife created a puzzle for their friends and family to put together.  They reserved the final revelation pieces to place themselves, but let everyone else in on the fun.  I don’t have pictures of the actual creation, but here are pics of the assembly at the party.  I’m sure that you can figure out how to make your own puzzle.

 

Gender Reveal

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How I made Lightning McQueen November 8, 2012

Filed under: Celebrations,Crafts,Halloween — MKCoehoorn @ 3:19 am
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Honestly, this isn’t a tutorial.  It’s more of a generic idea that I did.  I did take a few photos as I was working on it, but not enough for you to follow the directions.

In addition to my daughter’s Rapunzel challenge, my son wanted to be Lightning McQueen for Halloween.  Not a race car driver, but McQueen.  Which meant that somehow a box car that could be worn by a four year old yet still looks like McQueen had to be fashioned.  There were actually two made.  The little one that my husband crafted, and the big one that I made.

Little McQueen

This one was made from technically 2 boxes and poster board.  Body itself is one medium size box with three of the four top flaps cut off.  On the bottom, two flaps were cut off and the other two were trimmed to make room for his legs then taped into place.  To round out the front, a strip of poster board was cut and taped in place, then tapered along the top so the hood (also made of poster board) would be angled.  Then a hole was cut into the front of the box and a smaller box was inserted to act as a candy catcher and keep the front end in place.  The rear flap from this inner box was taped to the windshield to hold it up.  Along the sides are poster board windows and in the back is a cardboard tail fin.  We learned when painting over plastic packing tape, you want to make sure you get a good base coat of primer on all the surfaces or else the paint will not adhere.  The eyes were colored on with crayon and the mouth and headlights were printed on computer paper then stuck on with school glue.  On the sides a big yellow lightning bolt was painted with a computer paper 95 glued over it.  The wheels are just cardboard rounds that were painted red and black then adhered with shoe glue.  To make the car wearable, red gross-grain ribbon was threaded through the bottom of the car and the box forming the engine compartment.  This car is small enough the little boy was able to reach over the windshield and lift the hood to receive his candy.

This costume was used for trick or treating in confined spaces, i.e. the residence halls of the college across the street.

Now here’s the Big McQueen.

Big McQueen

He is actually constructed from three large boxes I got from the pharmacy where I work and one small box.  The wheels are made from eight paper plates that have been painted and glued together, then attached with shoe glue.  If I had been on top of things I would have attached them with brads so they would spin.  The Rust-eze logos (on the hood and tail fin), eyes, 95 decals and the license plate (on the back) are all printed on computer paper and glued on with school glue.  The lightning bolts on the sides were painted.  You can’t see it, but there is a “lucky sticker” on the far side of the hood that was made from glitter glue.

For the construction, I started with one box in the middle.  The bottom flaps were all removed to make room for the little boy.  The top flaps were all left as part of the vehicle.  The front and back flaps were left intact but angled to form the front and rear windshields.  The side flaps were trimmed and then taped to the front back flaps to form the side windows and then also to hold the windshields at the correct angles.  The center of these flaps was cut out to form the windows for the little boy to put his hands out and to also remove some of the weight.  The front and back ends are actually from one box that was cut at about a 70/30 ratio.  The larger portion was taped to the front and the smaller to the back with the open ends facing the center box.  The front portion was then tapered at a steep angle to continue the windshield for a couple inches, then at a shallow angle to form the engine compartment.  Poster board was used to round out the front end.  A third box as well as the remnants of the first two boxes were used to form the hood, bottom edge of the windshield and the tail fin.  Slits were made near the top of the front and rear windshield for the ribbon to go through to make the car wearable.  A smaller box was cut in half then glued to the bottom of the body between the wheels to give it some support when not worn.  Because this car is so much bigger, some “invisible” thread was run from a scrap of ribbon inside the car, through the windshield and down to the front edge of the hood, then back, to act as a pulley.  One run of the thread was not strong enough, so I ended up running it three times before tying it off.

Open hood

Tail Fin Logo

 

DIY Halloween October 31, 2012

Filed under: Celebrations,Crafts,Halloween — MKCoehoorn @ 8:27 pm
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Yes I am that mom.  I do the fancy birthday cakes for my kids, not to show up every other mom out there, but because I’m too cheap to buy one from the store.

I also make my kids Halloween costumes.  Yes, I do use patterns when necessary, but sometimes the kids have requests that don’t have easy to follow patterns, and then I get really creative.  These are the challenges I like.

This year presented two challenges.

Challenge #1: Rapunzel’s braid

So the pattern I used for the dress also came with instructions for the hair.  But those instructions were written for a kid with a normal sized head.  My daughter, well, at 9 months she measured 50% by length, 60% by mass, and 98% by head size.  At 7 years old she is more proportionate than she was as an infant, but her head is still larger than average, which meant the pattern’s instructions were not going to work.  So I read them over, got the gist of what they were going for, and threw them out the proverbial window.  Then I did my own thing and here is the result.

rapunzels braid

Rapunzel’s braid

I used a skein of Lion Brand Yarn Pound of Love in the Honey Bee colorway.  I then cut 90 strands of yarn that were about 3 yards each.    I measured by holding one end of the yarn in my hand and stretching to my far shoulder, then repeating 2 more times.  After all the yarn is cut, hold all the strands together and loosely tie a knot at one end.  Then carefully remove all the tangles and loosely knot the other end.  Cut two lengths of yarn about 5 or 6 inches long: these are used to make the bun loop at the top of the braid.  Double up the long strands and tie one of the shorter lengths in the middle, then tie the other to make the loop.

braid top

Bun loop

Next take a 9 foot spool of ribbon and unroll it.  Thread one end through the yarn tied at the base of the bun loop.  Pull the ribbon through until the ends are even.  Carefully untie the knots at the ends of the yarn.  Count out the strands so that you have 3 groups of 60 strands of yarn.  Include the ribbon in two of the groups.  Braid the yarn until there are only about 5 inches left.  Cut one final length of yarn, again 5 – 6 inches long, to wrap around the end of the braid and tie it off.

braid end

End of the braid is tied off with more yarn

Trim the ends of the yarn so that they are all even.  Through out the braid, weave in silk flowers.  To attach the braid, I pulled my daughter’s hair into a high ponytail and secured it with an elastic band.  Then I loosely twisted her hair into a bun and secured it with 4 or 5 hairpins.  Then I slipped the bun loop (there’s a reason I called it that) over her bun and secured it with another 4 or 5 hairpins.  And voila, one Rapunzel ready for trick or treating.

attached braid

Bun loop around the bun and pinned in place

Next post:  How I made Lightning McQueen.

 

Baking with Bacon August 17, 2012

Filed under: Anniversary,Celebrations,Desserts,Recipes — MKCoehoorn @ 3:56 am
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With 2 birthdays, a dessert competition, a commission and a back to school event, August quickly becomes a very busy baking month. This year, 3 of those events fell on the same weekend with the other two occurring  about a week later. Fortunately my husband gave me a freebie on his birthday and asked for Butterfinger Torte (I’ll go into that with another post) instead of a cake. But that still left me with three events to bake in one weekend.

Cake #1

Cake #1 was a commission. Every so often a friend of mine pays me to make a cake for him. He’s actually asked for two this month with the first being an anniversary cake. I started making flowers for this cake a few weeks ago with gum paste.  I deliberately made extras on the flowers to account for breakages.  So before I started assembling and decorating the cake, I had 9 lavender roses, 9 orange roses and about 36 hydrangeas in three different shades of blue, though I only used 6 roses (3 of each color) and half of the hydrangeas.

Cake #2

Cake #2 was an entry in our dessert competition at church.  It got the flowers leftover from making the commissioned anniversary cake as well as some other flowers I made to use up colored gum paste that was getting old.  It was a great excuse to practice my flower skills.  It ended up with the remaining 18 hydrangeas and 36 roses in blue, lavender, orange, gold, yellow, and pink.

Cake #3

Cake #3 was technically a batch of mini-cupcakes and was also be entered in the dessert competition.  Over the last year I have realized that most of the judges for our church competitions (we also have pumpkin and chili cookoffs) are males.  And a large number of them like bacon.  So when I found a recipe for Maple Bacon Breakfast Cupcakes on the Cupcake Wars website, I knew I had to try out the recipe on them.

Cake #4 was my son’s birthday cake.  Since he is a big fan of all vehicles (show me a 4 year old who doesn’t love cars and trains) we are doing something of a train theme this year.  He is getting a train set for his birthday and I made a train inspired by Thomas and Friends.  Even though he was quite happy with the result, I was not and so I refrained from taking a picture of it.  But for the record, it consisted of two cakes baked in loaf pans.  One was cut into two pieces, one of which was stacked at one end of the intact loaf cake for the engine, and the other half was made into the coal car.  For the smoke stack I used 1 regular sized cupcake and then the wheels on the train and coal car were mini-cupcakes.

This sounds like a lot of work, but it really was not too bad.  The biggest issue  was that we’ve been having triple digit temperatures for the last few weeks and I have to fire up the oven for the better part of the day.  But I do have a few ways of saving on time.  Of the four projects above, only 1 was be truly from scratch – the bacon cupcakes.  For the other three I starting with Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake mixes as my dry ingredients.  Instead of using the box instructions, I add 1 1/4 cups of milk, 1 stick of melted butter, and 3 eggs to each box of mix.  I divide the batter into the pans and bake as directed.  For 9 inch round cakes it’s about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  For the cupcakes – bake at the same temperature but about 15 – 20 minutes for the minis and 20 – 25 minutes for the regular size.  Or just bake until a bamboo skewer comes out clean.

Side note, instead of toothpicks, I test my cakes with bamboo skewers, the ones you would use for shish-kebobs.  The longer stick means that you don’t have to remove the cake from the heat to avoid burning yourself when you test for done-ness.  Also, to avoid having to hunt for them, as I always have to do with toothpicks, I keep all my skewers in a mason jar (a la flower vase) next to my stove.  They are contained, out of the way, and still convenient when I need them.

But on to the bacon:

I found this recipe on the Cupcake Wars website and for the most part I remained true to the recipe, with only two exceptions.  As you read through the ingredients on that recipe, you will see that it calls for maple sugar.  Maple sugar may be common in grocery stores in metropolitan areas, but in Small Town, Nebraska, where I live, the only way you can find such exotic ingredients is online.  And I don’t like to pay shipping – so I skipped that one ingredient.  At my husband’s suggestion (he was my taste-tester) I increased the strawberries in the frosting to 1/2 cup.

Since I did remain so close to the original, I’m not reposting the recipe here.  But you can follow the link straight to the recipe on the Cupcake Wars site.

Unfortunately my bacon cupcakes were too avant-garde for my small town compatriots and while my flowers were impressive, neither entry won the dessert competition.  But I’m not too upset.  Instead, I’m already looking to our pumpkin competition this fall and considering other desserts for next summer.

 

Gum Paste June 25, 2012

Filed under: Celebrations,Crafts,Desserts,Edible,Recipes,Wedding — MKCoehoorn @ 3:40 am
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Gum paste (also called sugar dough) is a companion to fondant, and a cake decorator’s friend when it comes to making lots of flowers.  Unlike fondant, after sitting out for a while, gum paste becomes hard, yet very fragile.  While delicate, this makes gum paste a wonderful choice when you want to have a lot of flowers or other 3D decor on a cake.  It can also be used with a Cricut Cake machine (so far I prefer it to fondant and sugar sheets for that purpose).  Because it dries out, you do have to work quickly, but while you are learning it’s not a chore to eat the failures.  Plus, as you have scraps that get a little too dry to work with, you can drop them into a little bit of water to make gum paste adhesive (I’ll discuss that more later.)

Gum paste can be a little pricey when purchased ready-to-use.  I think it runs about $8-10 at my local Walmart.  So when I was asked to make a cake for my aunt’s wedding, I decided to do a little research and try my hand at making gum paste.  The recipe is simple, but it does require some ingredients you are not likely to have on hand.  Gum-tex and Glucose are both available from Wilton and Amazon, as well as many craft stores such as Hobby Lobby.

My recipe:

4 cups sifted powdered sugar (divided)

1 Tbsp Gum-Tex

1 Tbsp Glucose

1 Tbsp Imitation, Clear Almond Extract

3 Tbsp warm Water

Sift 3 cups of powdered sugar and the gum-tex into a bowl and make a well in the middle.  The sifting is very important.  If your sugar has any lumps, they will be very apparent in the gum paste and will affect the outcome of your project.  Make sure you sift the sugar at least once before combining it with the other ingredients.  Combine the glucose, extract and water in a glass measuring cup and warm in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Pour into the well and mix together.  Once the water/glucose mixture is worked in, pour everything into a ziploc baggie and seal without any air in the bag.  Let sit overnight.  The next day, when you are ready to work with the gum paste, work in the last cup of powdered sugar.  I found it necessary to also add some more water by misting it on with a small spray bottle.  The dough should turn white and soften as you work with it.  Once every thing is combined, cover the unused portion of gum paste with white shortening and wrap in plastic wrap so that it does not dry out.

I mentioned above something called gum paste adhesive.  This is basically a little bit of gum paste that has been dissolved into water.  It makes a runny syrup that can be brushed over soft gum paste to make it stick to another piece of gum paste.  It is used quite a bit in making flowers and attaching leaves to floral wire stems.  When I make it, I generally use about a 1/4 inch piece of gum paste and drop it into about 1 Tbsp of water.  Then let it sit for at least an hour so that it has time to dissolve.  If there is still some gum paste in the water an hour later that is okay, you can still use it.  Just stir the water a little with your brush before you spread it onto the flower you are working on.

 

Crochet Eggs April 11, 2012

Lion Brand Yarn has some wonderful free patterns for knit and crochet on their website.  I love looking through the website for project ideas and the amigurumi patterns are great for using up yarn leftovers.  I made these little eggs for my 6 month old niece for Easter.  Each egg took about 30 minutes to make, or 45 minutes if my kids were distracting me. The best part is that I was able to make some of them out of yarn leftover from when I made my niece a baby blanket.

I’m now working on an assortment of eggs for my sister-in-law to decorate the dorm she manages next year.  So far I have found that Caron Simply Soft with a size F hook and Naturally Caron Spa Yarn with a size E hook make the best eggs.  Normally I prefer to work with Peaches ‘n’ Creme yarn but it came out too stiff for my liking.  However it does make a very nice basket (but I’ll save that for another post).

 

Easter Bunny Pops

I came across these Easter Bunny Pops and had to try my hand at making them.  But as with anything I did things a little bit in my own way.  Instead of buying wooden hearts and beads, then painting them white,  I just cut hearts and 3/4″ circles from some white craft foam.  Then I drew on the eyes, mouths, noses, whiskers and toes with craft foam markers.  I also used glue dots instead of hot glue since I knew that I would have little hands trying to help me and cut up some cotton balls when I ran out of white pompoms for the hands and tail.

After about 8 bunnies, I got tired of struggling to tie tiny bows so later bunnies were bow-less.  Bowed or not, these little dum bunnies were a hit at our breakfast potluck at church on Easter.