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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Hemming Jeans

Just a quick note to show a technique that I’ve never used before, but makes a huge difference when hemming jeans.

In the past, I’ve hemmed jeans in the usual, fold under then sew around the cuff method that I use with all the kids’ pants since forever.  With jeans, this left them without their signature cuff that give jeans their “look”. I couldn’t put a finger on why the kids’ hemmed jeans looked so extraordinarily dorky until I found this method that let’s you hem the jeans, but keep the cuff. It’s so simple that I had one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments.

It’s a little hard for me to explain, so I’m hoping the photos help out.
imageWhat I did was I tucked a hem up and into the pant leg then brought the bottom fold down to just above the jeans’ original hem and accent stitching.  I then top stitched the hem in place, using matching (denim colored) thread, just above the fold. Yeah, like I said, hard to explain so look here and see what I’m talking about…
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See how the extra fabric (the stuff that makes the pants too long) makes a “cuff” on the inside of the pant leg then is tacked down at the bottom? If you’re a full grown person, you could then cut this extra fabric off, but I leave it so that I can re-lengthen the legs as needed.
imageSee the dark blue stitching just above the gold?  That’s mine.  I should also tell you that when I got to the side seams, I stopped sewing, skipped over them, and continued sewing on the other side of the seam.  I did this because I don’t have the right foot or needle to sew through all that denim.  Since the cuff lays flat and the opening faces the floor, it really isn’t noticeable unless you stick your finger into the opening like so…

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If you do have the right equipment for the task, by all means sew straight across that sucker.  Here is the completed job.  Or one of them anyway.  I went school shopping and got 8 pairs of jeans for my two boys and had to hem ALL of them.

imageThat’s it for now and Happy Hemming!

 

Campfire Cake

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Everybody needs a BFF and I’ve got a fabulous one named Wendy. Here we are at the Brimfield Fair a few weeks ago

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She’s the cute blond on the right. She has four kids, the youngest of which are her son Jared and her daughter Maggie. Here they are in all their cuteness…

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Since Jared’s birthday is in July, and Maggie’s is in September, every few years she and her husband have a joint cookout/birthday party in their yard. They get a bouncy house, have lots of food, and when night falls, there’s a big campfire. Also, they show a movie on the side of their house “drive-in” style for the kids to lay on blankets and watch. It’s always a great time.

This year, I saw a tutorial on Pinterest (actually a few of them) for making a supercool campfire cake and asked Wendy if I could make one for the kids’ party. A couple of the links I referenced can be found here and here.

I’m not going to give a full-on tutorial, but here are a few of the steps I took, and managed to capture with my camera.

A few days before the party, I made the fire part of the cake. I feel like a caveman when I say that like there should be a swell of dramatic music while I say “I MADE FIIIIIRE!!!”. I did sort of a combination of different methods for this. I crushed butterscotch cookies and sprinkled them onto a foil lined cookie sheet. I then crushed cinnamon candies (the hard disc kind) and dropped them into a few “holes” I made in the butterscotch crumbles, and sprinkled more around the edge. After I melted it for 8 minutes in a 350 degree oven, I took it out and quickly dragged a knife through it in a wavy pattern, making a marbleized fiery pattern.

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When it was time to put the cake together, I broke the sheet of candy into shards and stuck them into the cake.

The next day, (the day before the party), I made the rocks. These I made with marshmallow fondant using the video I found here. Then I divided it into two hunks and colored one of them gray and the other brown. When I mixed in my food coloring, I stopped blending it before the color was uniform. Having done this, the rocks looked more naturally multicolored.

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So now, onto the cake. I asked the two birthday kids what kind of cake they wanted. He wanted vanilla, she wanted chocolate so in the end, I made a two layer 9×13 cake, one layer chocolate and one vanilla. I used Duncan Hines box mixes in case you care to know. I then whipped up a big batch of buttercream frosting, reserved a little white for lettering, and dyed the rest of it grass green. I’ve mentioned this in earlier posts, but Americolor brand food coloring is the best I’ve found. Deep vibrant color and it doesn’t water down your frosting. Here’s the cake frosted smooth in green…

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Now the fun part. I laid out some of the rocks into a ring, then filled in the circle with crushed chocolate wafer cookies. Next, I arranged some halved Pirouette cookies (from Pepperidge Farm) to look like logs. Next came the fire shards. I piped on some “grass” and added some of the extra rocks and logs on the short sides of the cake. On the long sides I put the kids’ names and ages. Finally, I added a few mini-marshmallows on toothpicks and Voila! we have achieved cakeness!

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It was my first attempt at piping grass, and if I had to do it over again, I might use a stiffer frosting like royal icing so that the grass wouldn’t look so shaggy and floppy. Either way, I’m satisfied with the final product and the kids loved it. They even dug right in and ate both the fondant rocks and the cinnamon butterscotch fire. Go figure!

My review of the project would be that while it wasn’t very hard to do, it was time consuming. I would recommend that you plan on spreading out the steps over a few days, so that you won’t be in the mad rush that I was on the day of the party.

Good luck with your own campfire cake!

First Day of School Pictures

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Just a quick note to say “Happy First Day of School!”. Lets be honest, especially all of my fellow stay-at-home-moms, who’s really the happiest about the kids returning to school? The kids? No. The teachers? Hell, no. It’s the mothers. I love my children but absence makes the heart grow fonder, so you need to go away to give me a chance to miss you. Please.

Here are my two beautiful boys on their first day of 5th grade (that’s Michael on the left) and 3rd grade (Trevor on the right). I wish them both a successful year full of wonder.

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Best of luck to everyone for the upcoming school year!

Drawing or Writing on Ceramic

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Just a quick post today. I made the coffee mugs above to give to my brother Jim and sister-in-law Lisa who had moved from Massachusetts to Tennessee. I got the idea from Pinterest (of course). The directions said to use a Sharpie, then bake it in the oven to make it permanent. I made them the day before they were scheduled to go back to Chattanooga and was so disappointed to find out that the process didn’t work. When I wet my thumb and ran it over a corner of the writing, the ink ran and washed off. I was NOT happy.

I did a little research and found out that I needed to get paint pens made specifically for writing on glass. These ones by DecoArt work really really well.

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I got mine at Michael’s but I’m pretty certain that you’ll find them at all major craft stores. The pens have actual paint in them, so you need to shake them up first, then push down the tip until the paint flows into it. Then you’re ready to write or draw with it.

To create the shapes I went here and printed out the two states I was looking for. Then, using a water solvable felt tip pen I drew the shapes by eyeballing them. I would “erase” as I went along by licking my thumb and wiping off the ink. Once I had it like I wanted, I painted over my lines with the DecoArt pen. Anyone uncomfortable with my “eyeballing” technique could print or copy the shapes to desired size then cut them out, tape them on, and trace the shape onto your mug.

Following the instructions on the pen package, I put the completed mugs onto a cookie sheet and put them into a cold oven. I turned the oven on, setting it to 375 degrees. Once the oven was preheated (it hit 375 degrees), I set the timer to 40 minutes. When the timer went off, I turned the oven off and opened the oven door a few inches. When the mugs reached room temperature, they were done! I packaged them up and shipped them out to Jim and Lisa the next day.

Today, I made two of these mugs, one for me and one for my girlfriend Wendy. I am famous among my family members for being incapable of any clear thinking until I’ve finished my first cup of coffee in the morning. Wendy is almost, but not quite as bad.

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Now that I’ve gotten the hang of the pens, I’m really looking forward to using them on different projects in the future. I’m thinking about using them for some sort of teacher gift at Christmastime.

Everybody enjoy your Labor Day!