Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reviving the Tiesie, with a Twist

Once upon a time, I had a brilliant idea. One, as in singular. I point that out because I really have very few good ideas...mostly they're a bit half baked. Anyway, on to my point.

Last year before my baby was born, and I had a lot of time on my hands, I was out and about at some estate sales and happened upon a huge bag of really, really nice vintage ties. There was a woman standing next to them, just sort of lamely looking at them. I thought she was going to buy them, but then I realized she was a "staffer". I asked her how much they were and she started telling me the story behind the ties -- they were her dad's and she thought they were really cool, but didn't know what to do with them. I didn't have a clue, so I didn't offer any ideas.

After mulling it, I decided that the ties needed a home. More specifically my home. So I bought them and they sat around my house for a few months in a ziplock bag until my brilliant idea came along. I decided to cut them up and sew the onto onesies. I wanted one for my baby to wear to his auntie's wedding. So I made a few, chose my favorite for Baby Pumpkin, and put the rest on Etsy. They sold moderately well, probably because the photos do not do justice to the extreme cuteness of a little boy in a vintage tie onesie.

Recently my brilliant idea became, er, brillianter when I decided that I should use nicer, organic cotton onesies and I should make them for bigger boys, too. I've started the process of prepping all the ties and sewing them up, and they turning out so cute. When my son wore his, he always got so many compliments. And looked pretty dapper, besides. I'll have a bunch of these in my shop eventually, when I solve the bigger problem of how to photograph them without hiring a gaggle of infant models. I'm also going to be giving a tiesie away on another great blog. Stay tuned for more details!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

County Fairs and Cardamom Cake

Phew, another weekend sped by at lightning speed. I'm sitting at the end of it, in my pajamas, belly full of wine and cake, wondering if 8:30 is too early to call it a night and hit the "hay". Saturday Baby Pumpkin checked out the cows, horses, pigs, and all manner of farm animal at our county fair. It was pretty awesome. He even got to ride a pint-sized tractor (we had to pull him away screaming he loved it so much).

Afterwards, Hubby and I got a craving for this wonderful cardamom cake we'd had at Bread and Chocolate a few weeks ago. I made this recipe, but it didn't really cut it. Too doughy, not sweet enough, and without the glaze it was a little blah. Anyone have a good recipe? This week I'm making strawberry pie for Little Pumpkin's birthday party, but maybe another week I'll have time to give it a second try. It did turn out beautifully, though, didn't it? Looks like a snow-covered mountain! Oh, and the SMELLS from my kitchen...DEEeee-licious!

Saturday is the big first birthday party, and we have relatives coming from all over to celebrate with us. Funny how I thought we'd totally not make a big deal out of this birthday. Now I'm wound up all in knots about making it perfect. I already ran out to the store to buy every kind of soda and for those who don't drink soda, there's iced tea, plus chips, and for those who don't like chips I got pretzels, and the list goes on. Not to mention all the Gourmet-magazine side dishes I'll be's a recipe for a mama meltdown, most likely. Thank goodness I'm also planning to load up on a Martha recipe for sangria.

Because I'm a glutton for punishment and hold myself to high standards for entertaining out of town guests, I've also decided that it's absolutely *required* that we have a fire pit to sit by after the party's over. Can't you just see us, smartly dressed, perfectly sun-kissed, drinking sangria in front of our beautiful backyard bonfire? Anyone know how to build one...???

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Using up Scraps: Fabric Hair Pins

Looking for a really simple way to use up every last scrap of fabric? Make some fabric covered buttons, and turn them into bobby pins, magnets, push pins, any number of great uses (besides the obvious use as a button!).

I purchased a kit from Tobysmom on Etsy that helps push the fabric onto the button nicely. You can do it by hand but it isn't as easy or as clean looking. Here are the easy steps to making your own:
1. To cut out the perfect fabric circles, I used the lid of a baby food jar.
2. Then, using a needle-nose pliers, I pulled the little loop off the button back (don't do this if you plan to use the button as a button!)
3. Next, I covered the button with the fabric circle.
4. Finally, I used Gorilla Glue to glue the fabric covered button onto a nice sturdy bobby pin, which I also purchased on Etsy, from KikisKlippies.

To complete the etsy circle, I'm now selling these on etsy. My primary motivator to make these, though, is that I HATE throwing away fabric scraps, no matter how small. I also wanted to have some fun things ready for No Coast Craft-o-rama this winter. I'm also going to make some smaller bobbies, so stay tuned for that.

What other cool things can you do with these fabric buttons? The possibilities seem endless!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hometown Fun Times

Good girlfriends are such a precious commodity, aren't they? They tell you when the sunglasses are too big for your face, guide you gently back to the skirt you should have bought but passed up, and smile and nod when you ask if it's okay to just sit and watch your kid play on the floor for two consecutive hours.

Every year I take a girl's roadtrip back to my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin for their big mile-long sidewalk sale called Maxwell St. Days. It's always fun; we always spend and drink too much. This year we had a bit of a fiasco trying to find just the right bar, but settled with beers in my parent's basement. I guess we're getting old! But not too old to play MASH and that game with the little folded up paper "fortune teller" thing (pick a number, pick a color, pull up one corner of the paper and there's your fortune). Ah, good times. I'm really looking forward to my future life in a house with Johnny Depp...and many more travels with the girls!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Laugh Your Arse Off

My sister and I used to entertain ourselves on road trips by reading the free trucker newpapers available at most rest areas. What? You didn't know that trucker newspapers were available FREE at most rest areas? Boy, you've been missing out!

We would pick them up for the personals. They were fantastic! Eventually, though, we noticed a theme. Most people seeking a loved one fit into this description:


We never did find our soulmates reading these personals, but we did really take an interest in the common love for humor and having a sense of humor. We often laugh about our discovery by saying "I like funny things" or "Must like humor". Since then I've really done some thinking about humor and funniness. Because we really don't all find the same things funny. There are college level courses and academic books dedicated to what's funny. How can we so flippantly seek someone who enjoys "humor"?

All this led me to Maria Bamford. She's hilarious. Her impersonations of "townies" where she grew up makes me pee my pants laughing. She's ridiculous, self-depracating, and she takes her Pug with her places. You really should read the Maria Bamford article on City Pages last week. If you like the clip, go visit Maria in Duluth at The Boring Rally. I am telling you, I can overlook body odor, but you've GOT to have a sense of humor.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Have you ever stopped to marvel at all the things the internet has brought us? Remember when we used to furrow our collective brows and worry about how isolated we might become? "We wont ever leave the house!" "We'll forget how to interact with humans!" "Social retards!" "Pasty white, malnourished recluses!"

Here I am to tell you that none of that has happened. Al Gore did such a great thing when he created the internets, that now we all sit around in our pajamas telling complete strangers about our lives, our children, our cats, what we did last weekend and really connect with our new, extended group of friends -- our e-friends.

Know what else we do? We buy stuff online. We buy lots of stuff online. Whole Christmas shopping lists are completed at a PC in a home office or laptop at the local Java Joint.

I am a fan of both. Blogging and shopping. Today I'm actually blogging about something I created on my computer AND ordered online. To sell, perhaps in my online store?! A labrynthian tale of ecommerce, social media and more!

No, really. I got my fabric from Spoonflower on Friday and it kicks arse. The stuff I had made for my niece is so cool, despite the fact that I'm a design nincompoop and it's got weird black lines in it. I think she'll love it, because it's her doodles! In fabric! I also got a couple of swatches of some stuff I "designed" and even it is cool! Spoonflower, you're one of the reasons I love Al Gore, inventor of internets. You make me happy! I can't wait to order more!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Woody Woodgrain Baby Sunhat

I finally got my act together to make some hats via the Assembly Line Method. It seems so Industrial Era of me, but it is quite a bit more efficient to spend one night cutting and then a few nights sewing. Last night I was able to crank out two of these fantastic faux woodgrain hats! Woo hoo look at ma go!

Etsy is doing a promo this week (month?) of all handmade kids and baby stuff, so I'd like to get some things listed there for when the tidal wave of buyers comes rushing in (rolls eyes). There are so many AMAZING stores on Etsy for kid's stuff, I am fairly certain little ol' me isn't going to get that much added traffic. However, a girl can hope that one day she'll sell so many baby hats she can quit her day job and spend every day home with hubby and baby. Oh, in a dream world...

In other news, I'm off tomorrow for an entirely needed Girl's Weekend. We're going to be power shopping at the Madison Maxwell Street Days (which happens to take place not on Maxwell St. at all, but on State St.). Here's to sangria and mani-pedi's while the grandparents spoil the baby!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Soft Book for Baby's Birthday

I remember this time last year I was 9 months pregnant, hot constantly, and hopelessly addicted to Izzy's Ice Cream. And, I was extremely impatient to meet my little pumpkin. It had been such a long wait.

Now, it's been a year and I can't believe how fast time flies. He went from "amoeba stage" to a real live babbling, crawling, giggling kid in 12 months. He has teeth! A personality! Opinions! He likes to point at airplanes! He loves pears! He loves to play Peek-a-Boo! How did this happen?

For his birthday I actually had not planned on having a party or getting a gift. I mean, we buy him stuff all the time -- would he even know it was his birthday? Well, I reconsidered and I think that was good. I ended up making him this great soft baby book, again after reading The Creative Family and realizing that I needed to start some good habits and good traditions and that it's not too early.

The book is a recap of his first year, but I made it with the intention of helping him learn all the names of our family and friends. Each page has a picture of him with one of his "people" and a little text below. I am really happy with how it came out. My only complaint is that the printable paper is $15 for 5 sheets. Not exactly cheap!

I sure hope he likes it!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In The Garden

This year I haven't spent much time in my garden, but I guess that's the beauty of perennials. I have lots of things blooming finally! However, I also have a few pesky pests that seem to be killing things off.

I have diagnosed Columbine Leafminers, but supposedly those aren't a real threat to the plant. Then, I have some weird little white spots on other plants that appear to be bugs inside the leaves of the plants. I noticed it on a tree in my neighbors yard and I think it could be Ash Plant Bug. These are definitely killing the plants, and we've already had to remove a big bush and some of my nice flowers because of it.

I wish I knew what I was doing in the garden! I'm sure it's something really common, but I have no ideas! Right now I'm just removing everything that has the spots in hopes that the buggers will not kill anything else! If you have similar questions, I would highly recomend the U of Minnesota's "What's Wrong With My Plant?" web site.

Anyway, here are some "happy stories" from my garden right now. What's growing in yours?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Baby's First Birthday Crown

I've recently been reading Amanda Blake Soule's (SouleMama as she's known on her blog) new book called The Creative Family. Many of the projects are geared towards slightly older kids; however, I did find a few traditions that I thought sounded fun, and so I'm starting out with some birthday celebrations.

I made Baby Pumpkin (soon to graduate to Toddler Pumpkin!) his very own birthday crown. Actually, I'm not unfamiliar with the birthday crown concept. When I briefly lived in New Jersey, one of my best friends (from Bellingham, Washington; go figure) inducted me into this semisecret club of crown-makers and crown-wearers. She made me a fantastic one for my birthday, complete with dried flowers and glitter. I still have it stashed somewhere amongst my keepsakes, I think.

The crown I came up with is made of felt and some ribbon I got on my fabric hunt in Frisco. First, I cut the shape of the crown out of the felt. I just basically free formed it for that step. Then, I cut some stiff interfacing so that it would stand up properly and I fused onto the back. Then, I stitched the intersection of the two colors together using a zig zag. Then, I stitched on the ribbon at the same time attaching the elastic. At the end I decided to add the "G" on top, and voila, finished. It came together really super quick, and it is hopefully sturdy enough to be worn more than one year.

Do you have any birthday traditions from your childhood? I would love to hear them! I've got three weeks to get it together!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Estate Sale Weekend

Now that garage sales seem to really suck (what is it with people putting out one lousy table and calling it a sale?), I really enjoy going to estate sales. I find such great things, especially on half off days. Yesterday this weird theatre training place in our 'hood was having an estate sale, and I got this lovely wig and head for my mom, and some really great patterns. They had boxes of patterns, so I'm headed back to see if I can get a lot more of them (for a lot less). My favorite pattern is a men's vintage western shirt in a large enough size to fit a "normal" sized man. Often old patterns don't fit us giant-sized modern people. For example, the dress pattern I bought in a size 14 says "Bust 32, Hip 35". Now seriously, what size 14 person do you know with those measurements. I don't think that would work so well.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have more great finds to report! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A First Birthday

I just finished making the birthday invitations for my first son's first birthday. Wow. It turned out so cute, I think (He did all the work being so cute. Well, that and our amazing photographer helped!)! I looked on Flickr for handmade birthday party invitations, and found good ideas galore. I wasn't really even going to send real invitations (email will be the downfall of our civilization), but changed my mind after seeing all the great work there.

We're just going to have a few people over, presumably set up the kiddie pool, and have some eats. Here's what is on the menu so far:

Grillables (of course)
Three Bean Salad
Fresh Strawberry Pie with Whipped Cream

Any other good first birthday must-do's or must-eats?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Christmas Quilt

Small Quilt (closeup)
Originally uploaded by truckertracy
I know, it's July. Way over (or way early, depending on how you look at it!) Christmas. However, I wanted to share this easy and free form quilt I made my sister for Christmas. It isn't really big enough to be functional, so I guess it's a "mini art quilt" or something.

I wanted to make her something that represented their love of camping. I used the Sublime Stitching Campout pattern for the tent and moon, but I just free formed the words, and they turned out okay.

Doing any camping this summer yourself? We don't really do much, as I'm afraid of bugs and spiders. And I like a shower in the morning.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

What Two Babies Looks Like

This is me. I mean, my rear end. With two babies. Cute, eh? I like how my baby's foot is sticking out through my legs. Backbreaking, but cute. We had the pleasure of spending time with the cute (am I overusing that word?) family behind Charlie and Sarah this weekend while they're in town visiting family and it was a total blast. And I got to hold their kid just a little. Yay! More babies to hug.

Baby Pumpkin had his first boat ride, we had cousins over for swimming, we ate donuts, took walks and checked out our raspberry bush, I baked two desserts, and just ran around like crazy. The only sad thing is I think we lost one of the hats I made for Pumpkin.

What a weekend! Phew, I need a rest!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Summer Good Eats

Today I made this awesome looking Blueberry, Pear and Strawberry Crisp (similar to this Mixed Berry Crisp). It looks so awesome doesn't it? It's only half done here, and I guess maybe it could look like brains or something but I think it looks delicious. I'll never know.

We went to a friends for a BBQ and took this little treat with us. We figured the eating would commence before baby Pumpkin's bedtime, but come 6:30 no eating had commenced. Of course, we were the only people in the bunch with a kid, so no one else was in any sort of hurry to get anywhere. So, I really didn't care about the dinner, but I was really disappointed to leave my dessert there without even so much as a sliver for myself. Ho hum. Methinks tomorrow I'll just make another one.

I hope you had some delicious food and celebrating to honor our country and our freedom. Freedom fries, perhaps?