Friday, April 27, 2007

Having Fun at the Chicago Shamrocks Lacrosse Game

A couple of weeks ago we received tickets to go to a professional lacrosse game. Yes, Chicago has it all when it comes to professional sports. So, we got to spend a little recreational time together as a family watching the Chicago Shamrocks. Luckily we spend quite a bit of time together but rarely do we get to go out. Since moving to the big city finances have been a little tight so when we get a chance for discounted or free tickets to an event we take full advantage.

At first I was skeptical about professional lacrosse. I mean at first glance it is basically hockey on Astroturf but it was a lot of fun. My daughter enjoyed it so much more than we thought she would. She really got involved when the fan cam was announced. She jumped and hollered and did her best to try to get on the jumbotron. You can see her photo here cheering shortly after consuming a blue raspberry snowcone. One of her favorite parts was the dance team which I could have lived without and not because I am against dancing but the kind of dancing and the lack of costumes. Although this is supposed to be a family event the dances were definitely aimed toward the male species of the crowd.

Anyway, we couldn't have asked for a better time. The Shamrocks soundly beat the Philadelphia team although I can't remember the score. It was fan appreciation night. I caught one of the LaCrosse balls that my daughter can be seen in the photo getting signed by Mike Kirk when we were allowed on the field to meet the players and dance team after the game. The players and dance team were great about getting to all the autographs and pictures for the kids. Overall it was a great family night even if I didn't get to do any crafting. Now that I have been exposed to the scrapbooking craze I have all the makings of a great page or two.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

First Fondant Cake Experience is Not So Great

This past weekend we celebrated my husband's and mother-in-law's birthday. Yes, birthday. They share the same day. My husband likes to joke that he never had to get his mom another present but I make sure he always gets one.

I have become the family cake creator which lets me get to try out different things without having a cake left over at home. For the first time I decided to try some fondant decorations especially since my daughter wanted to help. Since we were short on time because of the 2 1/2 hour trip to my in-laws I purchased Wilton's Ready-To-Use Rolled Fondant (Neon Colors Multi Pack). I also purchased the Daisy Fondant Cut-Outs and the Fondant Cutter and Embosser. The best part of this was the fondant was easy to roll out and cut with the cut-outs just like cookie dough. The worst part was the taste. Since I've never made my own fondant I don't have anything to compare it to except for the traditional buttercream recipe which is always a hit with everyone. I did use the buttercream for the background and then my daughter and I placed the colorful flowers onto the icing. She really enjoyed doing this especially since she wasn't able to use the decorator bags very well on her grandpa's cake.

The picture here shows my daughter and her cousin helping with lighting the candles. Believe me they were very well supervised and they were very careful and did an excellent job although I think they only did just a couple of candles a piece. They were a little slow since they were being so careful. I did do closeups of the cake but it was warm in the house and the road trip made it droop a little so I am showing only a closeup of one of the flowers. I will probably try to do the fondant again because it is so quick and kids can help cut out the shapes but definitely will try to make my own. Not very many people ate the flowers including me. This was not one of my better decorating jobs but the inside was really yummy. I did a top tier of carrot cake and a bottom tier of French vanilla.

If anyone has tips on using fondant I would love to hear from you. I love how the cakes look and how whimsical they can be.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

FabricMate Fabric Markers at Craft Critique

Check out my newest article - Craft Critique: FabricMate Fabric Markers. I tried out FabricMate markers by Yasutomo & Co. They were so much fun to try. I have had them for awhile but had not done much more than writing on fabric with them. They are much more useful for coloring.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Redwork Heart for Heart Exchange

Just wanted to show eveyone the heart I made for the heart exchange in my hand embroidery group. I sent it out the beginning of this month but didn't want to post it until the recipient received it. Luckily she received it shortly after BUT I got a little busy with other things, of course, and am just now getting it on the blog. I really enjoy doing redwork. It is relaxing to do and the outcome is so bright and cheery. I adapted this design from an old Leisure Arts transfer book so that it would fit the heart theme better.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Lesson in Designer Scrapbook Style

I went to my Chicago Craft Collective Meetup tonight and got a special treat. Our very own Martha packed up super cool scrapbook kits so we could try out a little scrapbooking. She put together some amazing little pieces of paper, trims and trinkets. I couldn't use them all but that was okay because I have some left over to use at home plus it gave me options as I layered and cut and just tried to figure out what I wanted my layout to be. It is so much fun when you can sit and play around until it feels right.

Martha is a phenomenal scrapbook artist. Visit her blog Mugsy Boo to see her infamous layouts of her favorite subjects, Mugsy and Opie. I just love my kit she did. Since I'm still new to the whole scrapbook/papercraft thing it was nice to have a group of items that coordinated without having to go purchase a big box of each little item needed to get a completed look. I'm working on a couple of other pages but still haven't finished because I don't have enough little things that actually go with the look I want.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More International Quilt Festival News

Today over at Craft Critique is my new article detailing more of my experience at the 2007 International Quilt Festival/Chicago. Although I couldn't describe everything, it should give you an even better idea of what the show was like and I hope it encourages you to get to one of these events even if you don't quilt or even sew.

Craft Critique: 2007 International Quilt Festival; Chicago#links

Thursday, April 12, 2007

International Quilt Festival/Chicago 2007

I've had another busy week. Work is crazy. We had a sales meeting with everyone coming into Chicago and we spent two evenings out at dinner and just getting to know everyone. My daughter had a doctor's appointment with an allergist today and I went to the special preview of the International Quilt Festival tonight for class registrants.

The show is great! It is the first time I've been to this one. I've never been to the original one in Houston but I have been to the Paducah Quilt Show which is amazing and is on my list to get back to. I am showing you a detail from a quilt by Kathy York titled Little Cities. It is machine and fused appliqued, machine pieced and machine quilted. The detail is the center of the quilt. I love how it has the circular quilting pattern rippling out from the center and the colors are so vibrant. You can see the quilts online beginning tomorrow on the quilt show's website, Quilts, Inc.

I am also sharing with you one of the vendors in the Make It University area sponsored by Cloth, Paper, Scissors Magazine. Ten Seconds Studio has unique tools to emboss metal and add them to your scrapbooking, cardmaking or as shown in the picture, wonderful little art quilts. You can find the supplies at I picked up some of their rub-ons because they stick to fabric (used for art pieces not to be laundered). I will let you know when I get a chance to try them out.

At the quilt show I am taking a class on Saturday. It is called Threads of Imagination by Cara Gulati. I think I'm going to be a little tired and a little broke at the end of the weekend but hopefully I will be really inspired. I've already learned so much just from the vendors I've met tonight and I've probably only touched a small fraction of what is there. Wish me luck and if you can, stop by the show online.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

An Easy Birthday Cake and An Easy Easter Snack

My husband's family has most of their birthdays in April which happen very often at Easter time. So, sometimes we celebrate both making the month just a little extra busy. This past weekend we had my father-in-law's birthday on Saturday and Easter on Sunday and in 2 weeks will be my husband's and his mom's (on the same day) and his brother's.

Since my Doll Cake was such a hit at my daughters birthday party I wanted to make one for my father-in-law. My daughter was eager to help and I was limited on time so I decided we needed something simple. This cake was only going to be 2 layers but I recently purchased very nice, heavy-duty Wilton non-stick cake pans which were 9" round instead of the 8" I originally had. The layers looked rather short especially since I was going to write all of the terms of endearment for him around the sides. The quick cake become a longer adventure just by baking another layer to allow the space for writing. I made the usual buttercream icing but I didn't have enough to add some extra elements like I had planned and I was running behind. My daughter had picked out Jelly Belly jelly beans to put on the cake. We had thought of spelling out Happy Birthday with them but it just wasn't going to work. She came up with the idea of placing them around the cake for a border. Pretty clever for a six year old I think. She wanted to help by putting polka dots with the blue icing but she still doesn't quite have the pressure correct on the decorating bag. We are going to have to make a practice cake for her in the future. Anyway, it wasn't quite what I had imagined and it took waaay longer than it should have but everyone loved it especially when it came to the eating part.

My next experiment was for Easter Day. My husband bought this huge box of chocolate Rice Krispies thinking our daughter would eat them since she likes both chocolate and regular Rice Krispies. Wrong! Now what do we do with them. The box was really big. My husband had wanted to take something else to his sister's who was holding this years celebration including the aforementioned birthday but with the cake I didn't want anything too involved. I have various cake pans and I have always wanted to try doing the Rice Krispie treat thing in one of them so voila we made a Rice Krispie Easter egg with my Wilton Egg Cake Pan. Unfortunately a plain brown egg looks like a big brown blob. So we make a stop on the way to her house for some ready made icing tubes and did a quick egg decorating for a yummy treat for all the kids (except for mine - she doesn't like Rice Krispie treats either).
Hope everyone had a great weekend especially if you were celebrating any holidays. They can be a lot of work but they are so much fun to be a part of making the hard work worth every minute of it.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Dritz InnerFuse Article is Published at Craft Critique

I almost forgot to tell you that my latest review article, Dritz InnerFuse Double-sided Fusible Interfacing, was published over at Craft Critique. I had written it some time ago and was waiting for its debut before discussing it. It wouldn't have been any fun to tell you about something that you wouldn't be able to go take a look.

You will be able to see my first fabric bowl and my first fabric postcard. The bowl if you look closely is a little lopsided but I think the black fringe helps out. (You can get a peek at the bowl in my flickr gallery in the side bar near the bottom). And, my postcard is a little plain but still pretty cute. I just learned how to do them at the Sewing Smorgasbord I went to a couple of weeks ago. There are so many ways to embellish them and I plan on making some more because they are so much fun and a pretty quick project to do that you can share with someone. They would make great swap items.

You can also check out my tote bag I did earlier which introduced me to InnerFuse. It makes a great side pocket on a bag that doesn't sag. So make sure you go check it out the full article.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Associated Content - A New Writing Avenue

I have found another place to write and get paid - Associated Content. If you want to read more items by me you can check it out by looking on the side bar in the section titled "Articles Published at AC". Here will be listed the articles and How-to pieces as they are published. If you like to write you should check them out. I don't know about you but I need more ways to help feed my crafting habit. I've found them to be more profitable than Helium but I'm continuing to write there as well just to see how well it works long term.

Monday, April 2, 2007

My Introduction to Needle Felting

Attendance at the Ohio State University Perry County Extension's annual Sewing Smorgasbord was outstanding especially for such a small county extension office. I grew up in Perry County and spent 8 years in 4-H which was based out of this office. So, it was a lot of fun to take part it in the event and attend the 45 min - 1 hour classes. There was no pre-registration for the classes so it was first come first serve for classes that had limits otherwise it was standing room only for most of the sections. Since most of them were lecture or demo only it was not too bad.

As you may have read in my earlier post about the Smorgasbord, I was most hoping to take the felting make-it-and-take-it demo. I'm happy to say I got into the class. For a $10 kit fee we received a Needle Felting Starter Kit by Fiber Trends, wool roving and a Styrofoam egg shape to make a pincushion. Usually, you would felt an entire egg from the roving but because of time constraints our instructor had us cover the Styrofoam.

Basically, for needle felting you stab wool roving over and over with special triangular shaped needles to get the fibers to stick together. I found a great tutorial for basically how we were making the egg pincushion at Mielke's Fiber Arts (they show making a cute ladybug).

Our super instructor was K.L. Christman owner of the Olde Yarn Loft in Somerset, Ohio. Her shop is in a cabin and besides natural yarns and fibers she carries spinning wheels, weaving looms and a very unique handcrafted triangle loom that makes incredible woven shawls. She is located 15 minutes south of I-70 and only about 40 minutes total from Columbus. The shop hours are Tues-Sat 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. She is also involved with the Appalachia Fiber Guild and their 1st Appalachia Heritage Fest to be held September 29, 2007. If you live nearby or will be traveling near there check it out.