Monthly Archives: May 2013

I Leveled Up!


So I don’t have birthdays anymore.  I level up!  I’m currently somewhere above Level 26 and below Level 36.  I had two celebrations and they were both just great.  I got some new sandals and some British/Drinkie/Decorative Swag along with a new mini-iron and a pair of Gingher Applique scissors!  There were also some new foundation garments that were desperately needed ( not in the picture, ahem) and  to top it off I’m fitting into an old dress I haven’t worn since the Husbands last deployment! I also might have fit in some time to do a Doctor Who binge.  All in all a pretty good Level Up.

We’re adjusting to the summer vacation flow and I’m going to try to get my projects in gear and stop playing Angry Birds on my tablet so much….note, I said “try”.  Bake will be back after she unpacks her kitchen, they got to move into their new place finally!  So that’s the news for now, we’ll be back soon!

Recovering a Kid’s Card Table

Well, hello there!  It’s been a busy little while at the Craft and Bake houses, sorry for not posting.   Anyway, I’m back with a small pictorial of recovering a kid’s card table.  This would have been easier if my children aren’t absolutely filthy animals that destroy everything they get their hands on, but I digress…

When I bought this table and 4 chair set at a yard sale 2 years ago (20 bucks!) they were in decent condition, there was one small hole on the table top but not much else.  Two years of my children using it and this is what it turned into…..


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Eeeeeeeek!  Completely disgusting.

I took the screws out of it and ripped the vinyl off it thinking I’d be able to reuse the table top with some new vinyl and foam….  This is what that looked like…

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Yes, that is mold of some sort.  Well, that’s not going back on there.

“Honey, do we have anything we can fix this table with?  ” I called out to my husband

“Certainly, dearest.  I have a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood that will work just great!”  he replied with alacrity….or that’s how it went in my head.

Here is the man of action sawing the new table top that we traced from the old piece.


Once the piece was cut I “broke” the edges with some extra rough sandpaper so it wouldn’t rough up the padding or vinyl too much.



Test fit to see if it needs adjusting.  Looks good.



I used some left over felt for the padding.  I traced around the edge of the piece just adding 4 inches or so by eye.



We just used a regular staple gun and pulled it as tight as we could without tearing the vinyl.   When turning corners I trimmed the felt padding underneath to try and keep the top a bit smoother.


After it was finished I trimmed the vinyl and felt down so it wouldn’t hang off the bottom too much. Added a few more staples where needed and it was done

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Then came putting the new top onto the frame.  The original top had these little bracket thingys that we drilled out and were going to re-use but that didn’t work out.  The dang rivets wouldn’t come out even with the Husband working on them so to the hardware store he went and came back with these.


Not fashionable but definitely serviceable.

On they went.  Eyeing it to check the fit.  Looks good


All finished up.  Now the kids have a new table that is much sturdier than the original and cuter too!  Have a great Memorial Day!





Candied Violet Cupcake Garnish


You probably won’t see much of me over the next couple of weeks as we prepare for the big move to the suburbs. Packing a house with a toddler under foot is a full time job, so baking will have to wait.  The next time you hear from me though, I will be posting from my new, awesome kitchen which I’m super excited about!

Until then, I’ll share with you what I whipped up for Mother’s Day – my go to Lemondrop Cupcake with a Candied Violet Garnish.  There’s no need to spend hours on a gumpaste imitation flower when you can pick a beautiful, ready made garnish right from the garden.  It really couldn’t be easier and it’s the perfect addition to any summery sweet treat.imageEdible flowers – violets, impatiens, pansies etc
1 large egg white
Superfine sugar
Thin paintbrush

Gently rinse the flowers and place on paper towel to dry.
In a small bowl, beat the egg white until it is frothy.
Blend granulated sugar in a food processor to make superfine sugar.

Brush both sides of flower with egg white.
Sprinkle with superfine sugar.
Place on wire rack and allow to dry at least 12 hours or overnight.

imageUsing a Wilton 1M tip, I piped on flowers and used yellow candy buttons for the centers.  I filled the center with homemade lemon curd and placed a candied violet on top.

Also on a side note, the little Lamprey is officially weaned which kind of feels like the best Mother’s Day present ever. Now I can once again drink with reckless abandon.  Thank you, son.


Sweet and (slightly) Sinister Seersucker Sundress Tutorial

Hello!  I promised two weeks ago to post another dress I made for the girl child.  Well, here it is:


I’m proud to say this was a 95% original.  I traced from a too small sundress but ended up changing it so much that it only vaguely resembles the original.   Here is the run down on what I did:



This is the dress I started with.  It was too tight in the bodice and too short in length.  It had a very gathered top area and lots of ruffles on the sleeves (which made getting the shape of the sleeve hard to get right)



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I broke it down into pieces, making sure to ungather the top and traced them as well as I could.

Once I had the basic shape I added extra all the way around.  Just follow your original line and mark the new distance with a dot every little bit and then connect the dots.  I wrote on the pattern how much I added so I wouldn’t forget, 1 inch all the way around.




After tracing the whole thing, I cut it in half and took the best looking side of it and then re-traced a nice neat copy of it.  I do this because it’s easier for me to cut the pieces out on the fold. You certainly don’t have to do it that way, just my personal quirk.


After I got the main body of the dress I set about doing the sleeves.  These were tricky because of the layering of ruffled material they were made of.  I muddled through as best I could

Okay, we have both pieces that we need now.  I cut this dress out of a light blue seersucker.  I happened to have a big chunk available and its nice and springy, Perfect!

This is the bodice top.  The original dress had a really cute gathered front and I wanted to use that design detail. This is the way I came up with to do that.  I took my front (and back) pieces and made an elastic casing by ironing down 1/4 inch and folding it down again the size of the elastic and stitching the casing down.


Figure out how much you want to gather the top and mark the elastic.  I put mine at 9 inches but really just gathered till it “looked” right to me and stopped there.  Stitch one side down, do your gathers, stitch the other side, cut elastic.


I narrow hemmed the sleeve edges so they would be comfortable to wear and enclose the ends of the elastic.



The sleeves were tricky.  I tend to struggle with setting in sleeves so I knew I needed to make these “raglan” style.  I ran 2 lines of gathering stitches and gathered them in till they “looked” right to me and then I serged the top edge to keep them in place.  They looked a bit ratty so I went ahead and narrow hemmed them too, to keep them neat and comfy.

I pinned them to the front bodice piece and stitched. Pin them to the back of the dress and stitch.  Now you have the two main pieces connected by the sleeves and the long side edges free.

I used my serger on the long edges and tried it on for a fitting….





As you can see, not quite what I had wanted….sigh…time for alterations.

Off the dress came and the sleeves came off the dress. I cut 1/2 an inch or so off each sleeve.   For the main body and how it gapped at the under arm, I took my yard stick and put it at the spot under the arm where the dress needed to be then I slanted it out till it hit the end of the dress, maintaining the A shape of the dress as much as possible. I marked it and serged down the line I marked.

It also needed a chunk taken off the bottom, way too long for my short girl.  I just measured straight across and lopped off 4 inches or so.


Somewhere in the middle of these alterations the scissors caught the back of the dress and nipped it….FML…..No matter, we make do, that’s what we sewists do!  It was very small and not actually a hole so I just patched it on the inside with a bit of iron on fusible/stabilizer stuff and cut off the extra around it.  Ha! Take that!

I happened to have just enough of a sweet little eyelet to trim the bottom with so that went on next.


The dress was still sliding off the girl’s shoulders so I decided to just pinch a pleat on the front, cross my fingers and hope it looked good (no way was I undoing the elastic/sleeve/side seams…again).  It totally worked!  It wasn’t what I had intended when I started but I quite like it now.  Nothing like being lazy and having it pay off.




I felt like the dress was still missing something.  It was sweet and simple, with no zippers or closures that she needed help with and it was nice and breezy and cool to wear but it was sort of plain.  After I put the pleat in I dug into my button jar and had her pick from a handful I pulled out.  This is what she picked


That’s my girl!  This is how I know she’s mine and not some foundling popped into my nest.

I stitched it on with black thread at the pleat point but it still wasn’t quite done….


I got my embroidery thread out and picked a very luminous turquoise and put some french knots in the sockets for eyes….There!  Much better!




And that’s it!  The Sweet and Slightly Sinister Seersucker Sundress.  Say that five times fast….


Birthday Celebrations

Zombie baby #3 turned One yesterday!  He is by far my happiest baby, rarely ever setting up a fuss that can’t be soothed, sleeping fairly well (if he isn’t teething), laughing and giggling and playing with his siblings. He’s just an all around sweetheart!

They grow up so fast and once they are here it’s like they’ve always been here, funny how it works that way…








We had chicken stew and Natural Cheetos (his absolute favorite) for dinner and banana cake for dessert.  My usual birthday craziness doesn’t seem to kick in till they turn 3, so this was a nice easy one (which my husband appreciated).


Happy Birthday Zombie #3, we love you!



Macarons, Take 2


While I’m currently enjoying some much needed down time with Craft and family in the country, I just couldn’t leave Brew City before taking one more crack at the macaron.  Crack is an interesting word choice, because that’s exactly what they did…all but six of them.  I was able to eek out three perfect cookies, but out of a pan of 40 macarons, that’s pretty terrible odds.  Though the flavor of these pistachio macarons with chocolate/cherry filling is outstanding, I ended up with a batter that was too runny so a few tweaks are definitely required.  Until its perfected, I won’t be sharing the recipe, but I will pass along a few tips I learned the hard way.

-If you’re going for a vibrantly colored macaron definitely reach for the powdered or gel/paste food colorings.  I only had liquid in green on hand so that just compounded the problem. Same goes for flavorings – go easy when adding in additional liquid.

-A macaron lives and dies by the mixing…more than anything else such as aged egg whites or oven temp, the mixing is critical.  Overbeat the egg whites or over mix when folding in the flour/sugar and you will get a runny batter and consequently cracked macarons.  The texture of the batter should be fluid and fall in a ribbon – not like pancake batter.

-Weigh ingredients using a food scale.  If for no other reason, you can rule out improperly measured ingredients as a reason for a failed macaron.


One last thing, and this rule is absolutely paramount above all others and must always be strictly obeyed: relax, it’s just a cookie.  It means nothing.