Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Jello Gummy Snacks

I am so excited about this one... Both of my kids LOVE packaged gummy 'fruit' (I use this term very lightly) snacks, so when I found this Homemade Jello Fruit Snacks Recipe on Pinterest I just had to try it! But to be honest, I'm probably most excited to be using my new Lego minifig mold that arrived in the post today...

The Lego mold is pretty little, so I got to up my awesome by cracking out my Star Wars molds as well!
The recipe is super simple, and once again the most difficult part was converting those cursed imperial measurements!!!!! To save you from the frustration, here is the recipe with no ounces in sight!

  • 1 regular sized box of any flavoured jelly (for those of you with access to actual Jell-O, it's the smaller of the 2 sizes you can buy)
  • 4 1/2 tsp of un-flavoured gelatin (if you have gelatin that comes in individual envelopes, you will need to use 2 envelopes)
  • 1/3 cup of water *or you can use 1/3 cup of juice instead of water if you prefer
  • Pour the water in a small saucepan and place over medium heat
  • Sprinkle both the flavoured & unflavoured gelatin over the water and stir while over medium heat until all of the gelatin is dissolved
  • Remove from heat & pour into molds

The little gummies turned out really well. They came out of the molds fairly well, but I would recommend using silicone ones that you can bend to help them out. The gummies end up a little on the sticky side, so I dusted the back of them with a little cornstarch so that they wouldn't stick to the container (or the other gummies) that I placed them on top of.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Milk Jug Watering Cans

It's not rocket science, but turning a few old plastic milk jugs into watering cans has provided my little ones with hours of fun! Gotta love Pinterest for pointing out the obvious, which sadly I probably would never have thought of on my own.

To turn an old milk jug into a watering can, all you need to do it wash it out & poke a few holes into the lid - and voila! My kids also chose to personalize theirs with permanent markers.

(We used the 2 liter sized jugs as I thought anything bigger would be too heavy for the kids to use.)

I actually like these home-made watering cans better than the store bought ones when it comes to my kids helping me with the garden... Since the only holes are the ones you make in the lid, the water comes out great at first and then slows right down as it drains out of the jug (until it fills with air again). This is perfect for 3 year olds who don't understand the concept of less is more!

And now that the garden has been fully watered, the kids are having a blast playing with them in the paddling pool!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Rag Curls

Since starting the Irish dancing dress, Irish dancing has been on both mine and the little miss's minds a bit extra lately... She can't wait to preform in her new dress and really, really wants a wig. I myself am not ready for her to get a wig... she's already got such gorgeous hair and she's only 5 years old - it's just too soon for me! I've got what seems like an unlimited amount of fabric scraps, so I thought we'd try out rag curls and see what would happen...

I flicked through Pinterest to see how others had done rag curls - looking especially for tips on how to get nicely shaped ringlets. A few tips of the best that I found were:

  •  to start with dry (or mostly dry) hair because if the hair is still damp when taking the rags out, the curls will just fall right out (and use lots of mouse or gel and hairspray instead)
  • roll the hair vertically and remove them by unwinding/pulling straight down to get good ringlets
  • make a small ponytail with the front section of hair as this is how it is 'styled' for Irish dancing anyway - the curls won't get combed out tying it up afterwards.

I cut up some fabric scraps, put on a DVD, and got started. I put hair mouse and hairspray in her hair before starting as well as a little bit after every layer or so. I ended up using 43 rags in her hair in total. I was a little shocked that the little miss sat nice and still for the half hour/45 minutes it took to roll up her hair.

And then she slept...

I was a little worried that there would be lots of screaming while I took all the rags out so I went nice and slowly and was as careful as possible. Fortunately there was only a complaint or two when I came across a few bits of a knotted hair.

I'm quite pleased with how it turned out for a first try (and the little miss is absolutely thrilled!) but next time I will use some rolling papers to fold around the ends of the hair so they don't end up too kinked and will be less likely to get tangled around the rags. The little miss has already asked if I can do her hair like this for when she goes back to school and has been jumping around to see how the curls will bounce when she's dancing, so I guess I'll be doing it again the night before her next performance...

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Jellyfish Costume

A month ago we went to a little friend's "Under the Sea" birthday party and the little guy & I needed costumes (the little miss already had a mermaid costume complete with fishy-swishy tail so she was sorted). The little guy isn't really a costume kind of kid, so I did a bit of searching on Pinterest for something fishy that wouldn't involve trying to get the little guy to wear something new...

I loved the (many) jellyfish costumes I found online and after looking through a tonne of photos I decided that an umbrella-jellyfish would not only be the easiest way to go, but also the most likely way to get the little guy into a costume. I had originally planned to get some light coloured, cheap child sized umbrellas and attach tentacles hanging down from the top as I thought the clear ones would be too expensive or difficult to find; however, it turns out the opposite was true! I had also planned to make the tentacles from strips of bubble wrap, but I never did manage to get any in time for the day of the party. Luckily I had a giant roll of white packaging ribbon just hanging around, so I cut it into strips and taped it around the edges. I was hoping they would look ok, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well they actually turned out.

The little guy loved carrying his jellyfish around the house prior to the party and he made a grand entrance in his costume, but it was quickly discarded so he could run around and 'party'. It wasn't abandoned for long though - many a child was seen dancing around with the jellyfish umbrella throughout the party.

Me & my little sea creatures.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Irish Dancing Dress - the final dress!

She doesn't look thrilled here, but I should
have know better than to try to take
photos of her while the TV was on!
Deep exhale. I did it, I finished the dress! Now the little miss and I just have to wait another couple of months before she gets a chance to wear it... it looks like St Patrick's Day will be the first time she'll be dancing in it. I'm not sure if the waiting will be harder for her or for me!
If you want to see the beginning of my Irish dancing dress adventure, check out part 1 and part 2.

Once I finally got the little miss to try on the dress to determine the arm length and to make sure the skirt length would be ok, I got straight back into it. First job was to attach the tulle underskirt - lots of gathering and lots of pinning!

I waited until the little miss could try on the dress before attaching the tulle because I wanted the tulle to hang down lower than the over skirt, but just how much longer was the problem without the model. Then came the zipper (nobody needs to see pictures of me fumbling about with a zipper), and then it was time to decorate! The little miss wanted the sash to be like the one on her practice dress (which was made out of tulle) so I happily obliged as it was pretty simple to make. And it would tuck quite nicely under the trim at the shoulder as well as the hip. Now onto the decorations that really make a solo dress... Since I don't have an embroidery machine, and I'm not very skilled in that area anyway, I purchased this sparkly trim instead.
Trim pinned on waiting for hand stitching.

The little miss and I had a little play around with how to lay it out... I had planned to do a diagonal line across the front of the bodice and a belt around the waist, but the little miss insisted it needed a 'necklace' to go with the 'belt' so I went with that, but I also added the extra down to the hip because it just seemed to be lacking something without it. She also really wanted to make 'bracelets' with the trim around the the arms, but I didn't have enough of it to make it around both arms. I'm sure the bracelets would have looked quite good, but I'm kind of glad there wasn't enough trim left as it would have been a nightmare trying to piece the diamonds together at the seam.

Trim pinned & waiting to be stitched.
(and my fancy wall hooks)

Here's a slightly blurry photo the little miss took of me
working on the hand stitching.

The trim was deceivingly difficult. I had been looking forward to this part the whole time I was sewing, but in reality it was really just a pain. I had figured that I would sit on the couch one evening hand stitching it on while watching TV, but in reality I had to sew it while it was hanging or else the fabric would bunch and twist (even though it was thoroughly pinned on). So I spent a good majority of the day standing up stitching it while it hung off a hook on the wall. Hanging it from a hook on the wall was one of the best things I came up with in the whole process of making the dress... We still had those removable contact hooks up on the wall from where we hung our Christmas stockings, and they were at the perfect height for the dress to hang from while I hand stitched it. It was also handy in that the dress was hanging in the lounge where the kids spend most of their time, so I could still be present & interact with them while they played and I could leave it hanging there mid stitch while I tended to other things as needed - and it was high enough that the kids weren't going to get at it and mess it all up!

And then it was done... The little miss was jumping up and down with excitement when she was able to try on the final product. In her highest, squeakiest voice she said it was the 'Best. Dress. Ever.', so I'm pretty confident that she's happy with how it turned out.

This is a bit of a terrible photo of the little miss, but it's a pretty good photo of how
the skirt moves.
The sash still needs a little trim at the bottom, but other than that - it's done!
Believe it or not, I've already started brainstorming for the next one... A cupcake ruffle skirt is on the cards, so I'd better get working on my ruffling skills.

UPDATE as of 19 July, 2013: This dress has now been embellished with crystals. You can see the new updated version of the dress here!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Irish Dancing Dress - part 2

Recently I got to spend an entire day working on the solo dress, but sadly I had to stop before I wanted to as I got to the point of needing to fit it to my model who was away from home for a few days (hence having time to actually work on it)...
The 'not pink!' mock up dress.

A few days earlier I had re-jigged my practice dress pattern and made a mock up of the dress base with some ratty old lining fabric I had laying around. The little miss tried it on and it was a pretty good fit - yay! The only thing that really needed fixing was the neck which was a little too tight. However, the little miss was very concerned with the colour - after a little reassuring that the real dress was indeed going to be hot pink she cheered up. We had a little play with the skirt of the dress and tried out kick pleats and gathering and decided that we'd go with kick pleats this time.

And then it was on to the real thing...So I basically made the same dress over again in different fabric. To be honest I'm really glad I made the mock up - I was more relaxed sewing up the 'good' fabric as I had already worked out a few hitches with the ratty fabric so there weren't any surprises!

Nearly there...
So here's where I got to... base dress waiting for a zipper, tulle underskirt, hemmed sleeves, and embellishments!

And then I had a bit of an afterthought - kick pants (bloomers). I made them using a pair of her pajamas in the same way that I did in this post - just a lot shorter. They turned out good and they fit, so I'm happy with that!

Bloomers just before they were sewn up.

The end is within sight... Soon we'll all get to see my first completed Irish dancing solo dress!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Flax Bangles & Crosses

I did a couple of flax weaving courses at the beginning of the year and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I love weaving and have more kete & kono (bags & baskets) than I can use, so I generally just do it for the doing - not necessarily for the end product. I've been full on with the sewing lately and haven't woven a thing for the last few months, so it was lovely to get back into it.

Because I'm still a bit OCD with the school gala crafts at the moment, I was trying out a few things I could make that wouldn't take too much time that can be sold at the gala... The theme is Kiwiana this year, so I couldn't not do any flax weaving for it!

First I made some little flax crosses. I've been meaning to give them a go since I did my very first class as it reminded me of how my Grandpa used to fold our palms at Palm Sunday mass into crosses. I found a couple of sets of instructions on the internet to make a palm cross, but really I just ended up working it out for myself. They're ridiculously easy once you know what to do, so I made a few to sell on the day - actually, I may bring some prepared flax with me on the day and make some while I'm selling. And if you're wondering about me making crosses to sell at a school, it is a Catholic school so it's all good!

Next I made a bangle that I've also been meaning to try for quite some time since I found the instructions for it on the website of a South Island weaver Ali Brown. If you're at all interested in flax weaving, I recommend checking out her website. The bangles (or wristbands as she calls them) are not as time consuming as I first thought... The first one I made took me about half an hour, but that's because I have a habit of making my weaving strips very thin - it looks pretty, but takes a lot longer! Once I got the first one sussed I made another 16 over the next day or two (as you do) and in the end they were taking me about 10 minutes for the ones with a larger weave and 15-20 minutes for the real small weave ones. With one decent flax leaf I can make 2 bangles (one from each side of the leaf), so there's not too much harvesting to do either.

My to do list seems to be getting a little on the long side at the moment, but I'm hoping to squeeze in another flax harvesting session soon so that I can also make a few little baskets & bags for the gala as well.