Monthly Archives

November 2013

House of Crackers

Have you ever tried to make gingerbread houses?  It can be difficult.  If you want a little trick that makes them a lot easier, keep reading.  You can even skip over my over-abundance of wordage if you’d like.

As kids, we used to decorate actual gingerbread houses in elementary school, and then the parents voted on them (I think?) after the annual Christmas concert.  Maybe there was no voting, and they were all just out for display, but in my head it was a definite competition.  I only remember a handful of years of this school tradition, but I LOVED it.

In the six years of having my own kids, we have done a few gingerbread houses.  One year my mother-in-law made them out of rolled out dough and giant house-piece cookie cutters.  Very impressive.  I remember two things about these houses.  One is that my daughter was thrilled with the activity.  The other is that I was pregnant and feeling sick, and one day I pretty-much demolished them to get to the huge chunks of un-frosted gingerbread.  My husband likes to retell this story and every time he does, I get the feeling that I am supposed to feel guilty.  That’s as far as the feeling gets…that I am supposed to feel guilty, but I don’t actually feel any guilt.  The next year my mother-in-law dropped off a little kit, instead.  I’m guessing those suckers, while delicious, are a tad labor intensive.

Another year, on Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law had tiny little graham-cracker gingerbread houses that the kids frosted.  This year, I offered to help make them ahead of time, and by help I mean invite myself and three children over to her house where she would do most of the work and feed us dinner.   Well, technically it was a group effort with me another sister-inlaw.  And by group effort I mean two of us made them, one watched and drank wine (coughLisacough).  The kids had about zero interest in making these Very Special Holiday Memories, although to be honest putting them together is not exactly kid friendly.  I have a feeling they will be alllll about decorating them with a table full of candy, though.

I made a few extra at home and took some photos along the way in case you are interested in making your own.  The ones I made are pretty small, which is great for little hands (and little attention spans).

First, grab a pan and throw in some sugar.  This is the secret glue–think crazy glue- that makes these much faster to put together.  Thank my sister-in-law for this tip, it’s much better than piping icing along these tiny edges, and they harden and dry in no time!  Turn the heat on and wait for it to melt.

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While the sugar is melting, grab five graham crackers to make one house.

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You are going to cut along these lines to make your house pattern, although if you’re the creative type, go wild.  I’m keeping this simple for both myself and anyone else who wants to make these and suffers from poor spacial reasoning.  You’re going to cut one graham cracker in half and the rest at 3/4ths of the length.  Take two of those and cut from the middle top of the cut edge at an angle down to the edge of the middle line, like so…

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To cut use a serrated knife, this honkin’ bread knife worked perfectly.  And if I tried to cut more than one at a time I wound up with broken graham crackers.  Every time.

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Now you will have this…

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Time to assemble!  I started by putting the sides on one end, then gluing the other end, and finishing with the roof pieces.

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To apply the glue, just dip the ends right in the sugar.  Make sure you use a pan as wide as your house to make things easier and to keep from burning yourself.  Caution: Melted sugar is HOT! And then it sticks to you and continues to burn (and burn, and burn).  Keep your small children at a distance if they are interested in this part of the process.

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And voila!  You now have really cute little gingerbread houses, with optional crooked chimneys.   You could also stick on little doors, windows, or shutters.  So here they are all ready and waiting to be adorned with frosting and candy!  How cute would these be as an alternative to dropping off cookies?  A couple of these, the recipe for royal icing, and assorted candy decorations would make any child pretty happy!  Don’t bother asking the parents their thoughts on this gift, of course, I’m sure they will love it too.  Yeah…

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Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!!!  What are your Thanksgiving traditions?

 

 

Winner of the Bird Pillow Pattern!

Hi there.

Well that was an unexpected week break.  No reason, really, other than the week started and then I blinked and it was over.

Weird, right?

I have a feeling the next blink is going to bring us into Christmas.

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Yeah, Taylor, I can’t  believe it either.

(29 days, people)

So one lucky winner can at least go sew one handmade item in that time, right?

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And that winner is the lovely April from over at Modern Handmade (go check her out)!  Congrats April, it will be emailed to you in the next day or two I believe!!

If you didn’t win but still want to sew something incredibly cute for the holidays, check out Gingercake’s patterns here!

 

 

Sewing Softies…and a GIVEAWAY!

This week I am so happy to share my first attempt at sewing anything other than clothes (pretty much).  I’ve been wanting to sew little stuffed animals for the kids, but was just being…well, lazy.  It didn’t seem like it would be terribly difficult, I just didn’t feel like switching gears.

But then I had this little opportunity to try one out (thank you, Virginia!), and join in on this little sew-along!  Just in time to spark some Christmas Sewing mojo.  If you want your own kickstart, too, keep reading because you can win your own little lovey to sew and give!

Gingercake Gifts Series

I really couldn’t decide which way to go, I was pretty fond of the elephant, but in the end I sat Lily on my lap and she chose the Katie Bird Pillow.

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At first, I wanted to go with something a little more subdued or Adirondack-y.  I had visions of buffalo plaids or neutral linens, but then I remembered that these little guys were not going to be loved by me, but by my girls who love bright and fun colors (read: neon pink).  Also, I really need to work on using what I’ve got!

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So I took out some bits of flannels and cuddle fabrics bought for long-forgotten burp clothes and got to work!  In no time at all, I had cute little birdies.  I’m glad I made more than one, since it involved learning some hand-sewing techniques I had to look up.  Nothing difficult, I just didn’t know how to do it and my first attempt at winging it was pretty dismal.  I found I actually like hand stitching things….it’s quite soothing.  (And I can do it curled up under a blanket taking frequent sips of wine, major bonus.)  I may have to look into sewing by hand a little more often.

I used a different eye for each of them, to test out some looks.  My favorite was the embroidered eye, inspired this post by On The Laundry Line.

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The dot fabric was also my favorite.  This bird’s got it all goin’ on.

And of course, the girls loved them too!  My youngest kept smushing her face into them, which I’m pretty sure translates to two thumbs up.  My older girl is using one as a pillow right now as she sleeps off a fever.  The kids actually always want pillows if they curl up on the couch or floor to watch a movie, so I have a feeling these may get a lot of use.

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The biggest lesson I learned in this process, is that good batting makes everything a LOT easier.  I had some leftover filler from a Halloween costume several years ago, and that stuff was HORRIBLE.  Then I ripped open an old pillow because I far underestimated how much batting it actually takes to fill one of these (again, spacial reasoning is not my friend) and it was a dream.  I’m not sure how to tell what is what when it’s all in the packaging, but I’m guessing you don’t want to cheapest they got.

And that’s it!  Want to sew your own?  Leave a comment and win one!  That’s it!

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An Autumn Geranium

Popping in to share a dress I made for an order!  It is a size too small for my model, here, but I just had to see it on.  I LOVED it.  So much so, that I’m hoping to go make another one for my littlest from the leftover fabric.

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It is this pattern.  Again.  See here (and here and here).  I love it.  There are a few ways to mix and match the pattern, but this is my favorite style for little 5 and 6 year olds.   The pleats are a little more grown up than the gathers, and kids love pockets.  Where else are they to store their coins, scraps of paper, and the occasional ladybug?  The fabric is quilting cotton from Jo-Ann’s, and I added a little piping to the bodice, because you can never go wrong with piping.

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This version is a size 5, which is a size too small for my  model, but I needed to see it on to doubly check that everything was okay.  Except once I put it on her, she really didn’t want to take it off, and if we lived in civilization, I would have bought more fabric on the spot.

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The bodice was obviously snug on her, but I kind of love the shorter length, although when she tried it on she requested one with sleeves and longer.  She always wants her dresses longer than I want them, which has something to do with elementary grades and how often they sit criss-cross-applesauce, I’m sure.  I’m also fairly certain, that we will firmly reverse on this position of skirt length in about ten years.

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The skirt on this dress floats beautifully.  It doesn’t spin out like a circle skirt, but has a beautiful fairy-tale like way about it when running and jumping.  If you sew and haven’t tried this pattern (which is highly unlikely, I’m sure!), I  couldn’t recommend it more.

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In other sewing-related business, I went into JoAnn’s and–gasp–couldn’t bring myself to buy any fabric.  I have all these weird bits of fabric at home, and I think I just need to do a little organizing/refashioning/usingwhatigot kind of sewing for the next little bit.  A lot of what I had was random garage sale goodness, or with the intention of sewing baby blankets when I first began sewing, and I need to pair it down.  Maybe even give some of it away so I can make room for some of the good stuff!

Also…I need to get going on a handmade Christmas gift list.  I’m not so great at the ‘getting organized’ bit of this sewing thing.  I love the idea of organization, but am hopeless at execution.  Sigh.

So, what are your holiday sewing plans?  Anything you’re making for you and yours this year?