October 26, 2011

Martha Stewart's Cheesecloth Ghosts

As the title suggests, this Halloween craft spook-tacular is brought to you by the fine people at Martha Stewart.  The original tutorial is found here.  All I've done is expand on the instructions.

These little ghouls are so cool, because they really do look like ghosts!

Collect the following items:

Cheesecloth (one package should make about 3 or 4 ghosts)
Fabric stiffener or liquid starch
Cardboard tubes like toilet or paper towel rolls
Aluminum foil
Scotch or masking tape
Unimportant plastic container (like yogurt or cottage cheese container) - not photographed

Cut your paper tubes down to size if desired.  I used one paper towel roll and cut it so that it was divided into 2/3 and 1/3 lengths.

Scrunch a length of aluminum foil into a ball for the head.  There's not a correct amount, just keep adding more layers if necessary to get the right size.

Poke a hole with your scissors on either side of the cardboard tube, about 5 cm from an end.

Thread the pipecleaner through the holes and bend them so they stick up as arms.  You may want to reinforce the arms into position with some tape.

Tape the head down to the cardboard tube and attach the bottom of the tubes to newspaper with more tape.  Martha's tutorial tells you to clip the bottoms of the tubes and fan them out before taping to the work surface.  Either way works!

Cut your cheese cloth into strips.  You'll want the strips long enough so that when they are draped over the ghost form they kind of pool a little at the bottom on either side.  I unfolded the cloth until there were three layers of thickness.  If you do a single layer, you'll be forever soaking and draping cloth!

Pour the fabric stiffener into the plastic container, soak cloth strips, squeeze out excess and drape over ghost form.

Continue until entire form is covered.  I used seven strips for the large ghost and six for the small one.

Let dry. Amount of drying time depends on how many layers of cloth are on your ghost and how wet the strips are, but this usually takes several hours.  When completely dry, carefully remove from the form.

Et voila! 

October 17, 2011

Apple Spice Oatmeal

Could you survive autumn without eating a single apple?  I couldn't, especially since I rarely consume an apple out of season.  Yep, that's right.  I'm one of those die hard, uber-freak, eat-what's-in-season, food supremacists.  Corn on the cob in April?  Grapefruit in June?  Strawberries in December?  No friggin' way, man.  Is it snobby?  No.  It's normal.  And eating in season is much more tasty.

Today, Rowan and I started our day with an autumn and winter staple - oatmeal.  And this recipe is so good, I absolutely have to share it with you.  Yields enough oatmeal for one hungry parent and a rapidly growing toddler.

I'll warn you, I don't really measure anything but the oatmeal/water ratio.  So, I'm guessing on most of the measurements.  Also, I use large flake rolled oats instead of instant or quick oats.  For the reason why this is important, please read this article.


  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced.  For best results, use a baking apple variety like Empire or MacIntosh.  (Apple geeks may notice that the apple I have here is not a baking apple, in fact it's a Honeycrisp.  It was all I had this morning, and although it tasted fine, it wasn't nearly as good.)
  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp of water
  • 1/2 cup large flake oatmeal
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • (optional): raisins, ground flax seed
  • brown sugar, honey or maple syrup

On high heat, bring water and apple to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, cook for one minute.  Add oatmeal, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Sometimes I like to add a small handful of raisins.  Cooking the oatmeal with apple and raisins give it a nice sweetness, requiring less refined sugar.

Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally, until oatmeal has absorbed most of the water. 

Add a small sprinkle (maybe 1/2 tsp?  I dunno...sorry!) of flax seed if desired.  Be sure not to add too much flax, it will make the oatmeal bitter.  Continue cooking until all the water has been absorbed, about a minute or so.  If you're at all concerned, flax seed is perfectly safe for children over 7 months of age.

For Rowan, I scoop out about 1/4 cup of oatmeal (this is not enough if that's all he's getting for breakfast, but while I'm making this he usually mows down an entire banana) and add some baby cereal.  It's not completely necessary, but I have it on hand, I need to use it up...and it doesn't hurt :)  

I also add a little bit of whole milk to bring the oatmeal back to a desired consistency.  If your child is under nine months, do not use cow's (or goat, sheep, raccoon or any other mammal) milk.  Also, if you ARE sharing this oatmeal with a babe under nine months, keep in mind that the spices, salt and chunky apple bits might not be the greatest idea.  To make this more palatable for solid food newbies, skip the spice and grate the apple.  And use your best judgment. 

For the grown-ups, spoon out the remaining oatmeal, sprinkle with brown sugar, or drizzle with honey or maple syrup to taste.  Rowan doesn't get to enjoy this part...yet.

Enjoy!!  Now, doesn't that taste better than the pre-packaged instant oatmeal crap?  And much healthier too :)  Try it this week, let me know what you think!

A non-dog owner would think "Awwwww, cute, he's sharing."  A dog owner: "Awwwww, years of training, discipline and strict rules right out the window."  *Sigh*

October 14, 2011

A Second Serving of Big Butt Baby Pants

As luck would have it, a very kind friend lent me her sewing machine until I purchase a new one.  Yes, sadly my 20-year-old Husqvarna is toast.  Kind of a bummer, since it's the machine my mom taught me to sew on.  *Extra sad face*  To repair it would cost just as much as buying a new one.  And new sewing machines have warranties.  At first, using the replacement machine felt like I was cheating on mine.  Seriously!  I had a little pang of guilt while I was winding the bobbin.  Apparently I apply anthropomorphic traits to my crafting tools.  Of course, my conflicted feelings lasted all of 2 minutes.  Haha!

I've been in serious (well, serious for ME, which is slight at best) Big Butt Baby Pant production over the past week (or two?  I dunno, I've lost all track of time) in the hopes of selling them.  So far, I've got a verbal promise from a store that they will stock them...so we shall see!

The denim is salvaged (mine old jeans, actually) and so is the purple knit fabric (tank top) I used for the ruffles.  Ohhh, that was a good day.  The day with the ruffles.  I wish Rowan looked good in ruffles.

I love the green/blue/brown striped fabric.  I was lucky enough to win a contest from Tonic Living's Facebook page and receive a delightful bundle of fabric samples (above).  The stripe was the only sample that was light cotton and not a heavy drapery weight.  Not that I'm complaining!  I could use some new cushion covers.

I think these applique hearts turned out pretty well!

Unlike my first Big Butt Baby Pant post, I don't have a model for these pants.  They're itty bitty (0-3 months and 3-6 months) and Rowan is.....not itty bitty.  A clothesline of adorable pants is the best I can do.

October 2, 2011

Skirt to Scarf Tutorial

Well my friends, it's one dreary, rainy day here.  I don't usually post on weekends, but I thought that maybe some of you were experiencing yuck-o weather too and wanted a little something to do inside today. 

This project will take you about one hour.  Five minutes to make the scarf and then 55 minutes to figure out all the ways you can wear it and which clothes to pair it with.  See!  I'm helping you pass the blah-ness of today :) 

You can use a knit shirt if you don't have a skirt.  Knit fabric is stretchy and doesn't unravel.  Most t-shirts are made of a light knit like jersey and are perfect for this project.  Ideally, you want something without a side seam, but my skirt has two seams and I don't find them overly offensive.

I loved the decorative bands around the skirt, so I decided to include them.  Make two cuts across the entire width of the garment, about 30cm apart.  Neatness doesn't matter!  If you're using a skirt/shirt with a hemmed edge, cut off the hem.

Stretch out so that the raw edges curl under.


Yeah, my head's cut off.  I was not in a 'model-y' mood that day.  Or any day for that matter! 

See you later alligators.  Stay dry...

...eat cookies!