Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Best Bath Toy Solution EVER!

My kids LOVE to play in the tub.  I, however, don't LOVE cleaning the toys or smelling the ooky mildew and stale water smell.  Welcome to Toddler Tuesday.  If you struggle with stinky, mildewed bath toys, you will love this.

Here's what you will need:

1 bath toy caddy (mine is from Target)
2 pool noodles in your choice of size and color (can be done with one if you only want one color)
One large, scary knife

I paid a little extra for my toy caddy ($15) just to get a really adorable one, but you can pick one up for really cheap (around $5).  The pool noodles are under $2 each.

Go ahead and install your bath toy caddy to the tub by suction cup or whatever method necessary.

Now, get your large, scary knife out and begin cutting the pool noodles into rings.

Once you have cut the amount and color of rings you want, go ahead and rinse them under the faucet and toss them into the toy caddy.

Now you have floating bath toys that do not mildew or hold stale water.  These are super quick and easy to clean up, and the kids LOVE them even more than I thought they would!

If you try this at your house, let me know how much your kids love it!


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Softball/Baseball Team Snack: Sugar Cookies with Flood Icing

This year, my oldest decided to give up dance and gymnastics to try softball.  We have had a fun year so far. Here's a shot of her hitting her first ever single at her first ever game during her first ever at bat.

Every game, a different parent is responsible for the team snacks.  Most moms bring Capri Suns or juice boxes accompanied by some sort of bagged chip or cookie.  I wanted to shoot for something a little bit more personal.  I originally intended to make baseball cupcakes.  They seemed easy enough...white icing and pipe on some red lines.  Laney, however, had a completely different plan.  She wanted baseball cookies.  The problem....I had no idea how in the world I was going to make baseball cookies.  I did some internet research and flipped through a few cookbooks before finally deciding I was up for the challenge.  You ready to make your own?  Here we go.

Tools and supplies needed for entire project:
Mixing bowls
Measuring Cups and Spoons
Baking Sheets
Oven (oven mitts are helpful too)
Cooling racks
3 ziploc baggies
a toothpick

Start with your favorite sugar cookie recipe for cut cookies, not drop cookies.  I am going to be honest here and admit that I used a Betty Crocker mix to save time.  Prepare the dough and roll it out on a floured surface to around 1/4" thickness.  Using a round cookie cutter, cut the desired size cookies.  I used my small biscuit cutter.  Transfer dough rounds onto a cookie sheet and bake according to mix or recipe directions.  Let cool on a rack until completely cooled.

For the icing, here is what you will need (per batch):

1 c. confectioner's sugar
1 Tbsp. light karo syrup
1 Tbsp. milk (plus a little extra for flood batch)
One drop of lemon juice
Red food coloring (only for laces batch)

Mix up your first batch of white icing using 1c. confectioner's sugar, 1 Tbsp karo syrup, and 1 Tbsp milk and one drop of lemon juice.  The acidity in the lemon juice cuts the sweetness by just a teeny bit and adds depth to the flavor of the icing.  You will not taste lemon when you eat them. You may need to add about a 1/2 Tbsp more milk if the mixture is too thick.  Transfer this mixture into a ziploc baggie and snip off the very tip of the bottom corner so that you can use it like a fancy piping bag.  Trace around the outside edge of the top of your cookie, making sure to close the circle all the way. Somehow, I didn't end up with a photo of this step.

While that is drying, mix up a second batch of icing.  This time, you will need to add around a tablespoon and a half of milk to the original recipe in order to get the consistency needed.  You want it to flow freely without being really runny either.  Good rule of thumb is that if you scrape a spoon across the bottom of the mixing bowl, you want the line to fill in within five seconds.  Transfer this batch of icing into a new ziploc baggie, snipping the corner as we did before.  This time, you can cut a little more of the corner off since this step requires less precision.  Pour a generous amount of this icing inside of the ring you drew onto each cookie.  After the first one or two, you will get a feel for how much it will take to fill the circle up without going overboard.  Once you have poured the icing in, use a tootpick to spread the icing to the edges of your outline and pop any air bubbles that may be present.  I did about 8 of these at a time until I finished.  The icing starts hardening fairly quickly, so I don't recommend doing too many more than that before smoothing with a toothpick.

This step will take a little longer to dry, so I worked on the rest of the snack while I was waiting.  I'll tell you about that when we finish working on our cookies.

When the icing has set up from your last step, go ahead and mix up a third and final batch of icing.  To the original recipe, you will not add additional milk.  You will add red food coloring.  (I recommend a gel coloring as opposed to a liquid due to the changes in consistency it will make to your icing.  You will see that my icing spread a little more than I would have liked because I used liquid coloring.)  Once again, transfer the icing into a plastic bag and snip the corner.  This time, you will want to snip only a tiny bit so that you have a finer stream of icing coming out.  Carefully draw your lace lines onto each cookie.  Moving quickly and confidently works best for this.

I left my cookies just like this, but if you wanted, you could add the detailed lace lines.  I just felt like it was a little too much.  Had I used gel coloring rather than liquid, I possibly would have like the result better.

As you can see, some of my cookies have little drip drips or crooked lines.  Never let perfection ruin a good project.

I made enough of these that each player had three cookies.  Once the cookies had completely dried (just under an hour) I stack them three high in red and white cupcake liners for easy transport.  In addition to the cookies, I also gave each child a Capri Sun and a baggie of pretzel stick "bats" with a "great game" note attached.

While my flooding step was setting up, I made and printed the little business card sized notes that said "great game," filled snack sized bags with pretzel sticks, and stapled the notes to the baggies.

I was very pleased with how everything turned out, and the other parents all had a fit over how cute it all was.  I hope your snack day is as much of a success as mine was.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pin Tuck Dish Towels

Hi!  Welcome to Fabulous Friday!  I haven't posted in a while....life has been C.R.A.Z.Y!  We have been so busy with softball and family activities that I completely neglected you.  I am back in action now.  While I was away, we had an opportunity to do some cleaning up and clearing out.  That means I got to bring my sewing things back down from the attic.  That makes me happy happy happy.  The first order of business was to start piecing a quilt my mom and I are working on (HUGE project).  Then, I made a dress I had cut the pieces for quite some time ago (see pic at bottom of post).  As I was thinking of what to make next, and cleaning the house of course, I ran across the list I made of things I would like to make for Laney's hope chest this year.  On the list was a set of pin tuck dish towels.  YES!  I even had already purchased the necessary flour sack towels.  This was such a fun project.  Let's get started on yours.

Here's what you need:

Flour sack dish towels (pack of 5 for around $5 at Wal Mart)
White Thread
Sewing Machine

Alright, do you have all of your supplies?  Then let's get started!

The absolute first thing you want to do is to wash and dry the towels.  This is to make sure they are done shrinking.  Unfortunately, it makes them come out looking like this....

Don't worry!  Most of that will iron right out.  Go ahead and iron out as much of the wrinkles as you can.  You want to set the iron so that it steams.  The trickiest part about this step is getting the edge you will be working with as straight as possible.  The flour sack cloth is very pliable, so the edges stretch easily.  At any rate, you should come out with an edge looking like this.

Once you have your straight edge, it is time to begin ironing the crease that will become your first pintuck.  Go ahead and fold the edge of the fabric under.  I use old country measurements, so I measured halfway down the fattest part of my finger.....but for scientific purposes, let's say 2 1/4 inches.

Press this crease so that it stays when you move the cloth to the sewing machine.  You can pin it if you feel more comfortable that way.  I hate pinning fabric.  Move your cloth to the sewing machine, and run a stitch the full length of the crease we just made.  I wanted a fairly wide pin tuck, so I aligned it to my 3/8 seam allowance marker.  If you want thinner pin tucks, feel free to adjust this to 1/4 or whatever you like.

Once you have done that, you will move back to the ironing board.  Open the folded cloth up, and iron the pin tuck down toward the edge we ironed straight earlier.

Now fold the cloth as we did before to make another pin tuck.  This time you will want to use a smaller measurement.  In country measure, I used the second joint of my finger. If you are actually measuring, we will call it 1 1/2". Crease, sew, iron, and repeat until desire number of tucks have been made.

I chose to make three pin tucks.  I just liked the look of that and stopped.  You should feel absolutely at liberty to make as few or as many pin tucks as you like.

Once you have finished making the pin tucks, you will need to secure them in their downward facing positions. To do this, you will run a stitch beginning at the top of the top pin tuck and extending to the bottom of the bottom pin tuck.

Trim your loose thread ends and give your towel a last press with the iron.  Tada! You did it!

Since I was making this for Laney's hope chest, I actually went ahead and tied a stack of three of these up with some yarn to keep them together and give them a little touch of love.

I am very excited about how these turned out.  I think these would be amazing to add a monogram and give as a wedding gift as well.  I plan to make another set for sweet little Leah soon.

As promised, here is the picture of the little dear wearing the dress I made her earlier in the week.

We were waiting for Laney's softball game to start. 

Well, that's it for now guys and gals!  I hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did.  If you try it out yourself, you'll have to let me know!