Monday, January 31, 2011

DIY Diaper Cake (or Towel Cake)

 Whenever I tell people I made a diaper cake, they’re often confused. Like, “You baked what??” Haha, diaper cakes are nothing new, but here’s one that I made recently for my sister in law.  You can buy these online as well, for $60-$100 bucks!  No way jose says Lil Mama Stuart.
Newbie Disclaimer: I’m still new at writing tutorials and being good about taking pictures of the process. And have always had a problem with wordiness (read: this is a long post). Sorry, I like details! I hope to improve as time goes on…

Materials/Cost
If you don’t hide any gifts in the cake, it can cost as low as $20 (only supply would be diapers, most other supplies you’ll find on hand). This one cost about $50 because it includes the following:
$20 – 1 box (92 ct) of size one Huggies Little Snugglers
$12 – 10 bibs (registry)
$10 – 3 burpcloths (registry)
$7 – sleep sack (clearance at Babies R Us, I wish we had some for Mia!)
$2 – 12 wash cloths (clearance at Target, score!)
Additional Materials:
  1. Rubber bands ($0-$5) – you can use household ones, office ones , clear Goodie hair ties, a package of green ones in the flower section of Michael’s, you get the idea. 
  2. Cake base ($0-$10) – you can cut one out of cardboard, purchase one in the baking aisle of Michael’s/Joann, or use a present (I used a Boppy in the blue diaper cake below).
  3. String/Ribbon ($0-$5) – used to hold diapers in each tier together
  4. Pins ($0-$5) – used to hold ribbons in place
  5. 2 Kitchen Skewers or Paper Towel/Toilet Paper rolls ($0)used to secure tiers to each other.
  6. Ribbon ($0-$5) – Wider ribbons would look best, but I use whatever I have on hand.
  7. Embellishments/Gifts – Soap, lotion, baby powder, bottles, stuffed animals, rattles, flowers, balloons, whatever your gift giving heart desires.
Time: 1-3 hours, depending if you have adults or a baby helping you J and if you have a problem knowing when to stop embellishing.

Instructions:
  1. Roll up a diaper, put a rubber band around it. Do this with about 70 diapers. Don’t worry, it goes fast. Have your baby help you take all the diapers out of the bag J
  2. Stand a bunch up and gather them in a circle to your desired bottom layer (tier one) size.  Tie with string. It helps to have other adult hands to give it a big hug while you securely tie it.
  3. Gather another bunch of diapers and tie to make tier two, smaller than the base you just made in step 2.
  4. Repeat for tier three, smaller than tier two in the above step. Repeat again if you want a fourth tier. Eyeball how your tiers look stacked up. Keep adding/removing diapers until you get the right sized circles/tiers.
  5. Variations (to keep it basic, feel free to skip these and move on to step 6)
    1. Tier 1 (base of diapers wrapped with burp cloths) – I took a burp cloth, wrapped it around the outside of the tier. Repeated with other two burp cloths, overlapping to cover entire tier. There will be over hang on the top and bottom. To give the cake a rounded look, I tucked the excess over and inside that layer of diapers. You could do this with receiving blankets too.
    2. Tier 2 (only diapers) - I like hiding the rolls by adding another layer of diapers around the tiers. You lay the diapers on their long side, and overlap them around the tier. Tie to secure.
    3. Tier 3 (wash cloths wrapped with sleep sack) - , I rolled wash cloths just like I did with the diapers in step 1 and gathered in a circle like in step 2. I included wash cloths because they are super helpful for spit up and daily baby life. I wrapped the tier of washcloths in a cute sleep sack that I found. Sleep sacks are super useful since Mia rolls around so much when she sleeps and blankets won’t stay on her. Take the sleep sack on its long side to wrap around the tier.  There will be an overhang on the top and bottom. I gathered the excess on the bottom and tied with a rubber band. For the excess on top, I folded over and stuck pins (that you would use when sewing) in to secure flat.
    4. Tier 4 (top, bibs) – To make the top tier, I wrapped, gathered and tied the bibs just like in steps 1-3. Since the 10 bibs weren’t making the right size tier, I added some rolled diapers to the middle.
  6. Securing tiers together so your layers don’t topple over and your cake falls apart:
    1. To secure Tiers 1 and 2 together, I took two wooden skewers (used for cooking) and broke them in half to have four pieces. I placed them evenly inside Tier 1 so half was sticking out. I placed Tier 2 on top of Tier 1, so the skewers are stuck in between the tiers. Note: You can use paper towel or toilet paper rolls too. Or soap bottle, lotion, baby powder, baby bottle that can double up as gifts. Just take a diaper out of the middle of each tier and stick the roll/gift in each tier. Repeat with remaining tiers if you didn’t do the variations above. Then skip to step 7.
    2. To secure Tiers 2 and 3 together – remember in step 5c I had the bottom excess sleep sack tied with a rubber band? Well I took out a few diapers from Tier 2, so that the excess of Tier 3 would fit right in. Not exactly super secure, but good enough for me.
    3. To secure Tiers 3 and 4 together, see step 6a.
  7. Embellishing – Take some wide ribbon and tie around the outside of each tier, making sure to cover the tie you used to secure around each tier. You can secure the ribbon to the diaper cake with a sewing pin, safety pin or tie in a bow. Since I didn’t have wide ribbon, I wrapped three rows of ribbons around each tier. Do whatever you think looks best. Stick a balloon, bow, stuffed animal on top, and look at your beautiful diaper cake! Or you can always just tell me to make one for you ;)
{click photos to enlarge}
For housewarming/wedding showers, towel cakes work too! Same idea, just have to play with how you roll your towels to get the right height for each layer. Bath sheet (I think this is just a ginormous towel) for base, bath towel for tier 2, wash cloths for tier 3.  Roll, tie, stack, done! I like to stick soap inside J

Linked up at
linkparty

Friday, January 28, 2011

DIY Pacifiers for Baby Shower Don’t Say Baby Game

**Update** Thanks for the feature Heather! Also linking up with Nikki.

Phew that was a long title. But that's what google looks for first, right?! Anyway, when I was planning my baby shower last year, (yes, I am that crazy - thanks for understanding friends!), I came across these edible pacifiers over at Hostess with the Mostess for the "Don't Say Baby" game. I seriously love Jen’s blog to get inspiration on fresh, modern party ideas.  I made the pacifiers for my shower last year and made them for my sister in law’s shower this year (each with about 30 guests).

Game: Don’t Say Baby!
Upon arrival, each guest takes one pacifier necklace to wear. The goal is to have the most necklaces at the end of the party. You collect necklaces when you catch someone saying the word “baby” and take their necklace for yourself to wear. So don’t say “baby”, otherwise you lose your necklace! You can always get a necklace back by catching someone else.
Materials/Cost for 30 pacifiers
1. 2 packages of white Life Savers $6
2. 1 package Jelly Beans $3
3. 4 rolls of ribbon – $2
4. Cellophane
5. White Decorating Icing – not the gel kind

Time (will vary depending on number of guests)
1 hour one night and 1 hour the next night.



Instructions
  1. Since we already established that I’m kinda particular and crazy, I dumped out the package of jelly beans and picked out all the pink ones. Set them aside, eat all the others.
  2. Unwrap a bunch of life savers, set aside so you can get an assembly line going.
  3. Take one Life Saver, put a line of icing over the edge. You’ll figure out how much after you do a few. Stick it inside another Life Saver to make a “T”. Hold for a few seconds to let the icing hold.











4.  After letting the icing set on the life savers you just put together, fill the flat/top hole of your “T” lifesaver with icing.  Stick a jelly bean inside and hold gently for a few seconds to let the icing hold.
5. Repeat until you have enough for each guest. I put them in Tupperware as I went along in case I had to stop and start again at another time. You should also let the icing set before starting to package them in cellophane. I assembled one night and packaged the next night. 
6.  After all your pacifiers are made and have set, time to package them up!
7.  Cut out about 5x5 squares of cellophane.  Try one to see if it will generously cover your pacifier. Cut out a bunch. 
8.  Cut ribbon to a comfortable necklace size. Make it long enough so it easily fits over people’s heads. Test one length out, cut a bunch.
9.  Wrap each pacifier in a square of cellophane, twist the top to close and secure with a ribbon.
10. Tie the two ends of your ribbon together to make a necklace and you’re done! So cute J











And here I am 40 lbs heavier with Mia Josephine in my belly! J

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sneak Peek: Winter One-derland 1st Birthday Party

Mia’s birthday party is only a week away and I’m both happy and sad. All the midnight crafting and lengthy to do list will come to an end but our baby girl will be a toddler! *tear*  I’ve been dying to show you all the details, but don’t want to spoil the party before it even starts! So here’s a sneak peek of a few things that I’ve been working on for the past month…stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for detailed details after the party! 


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy 6th Birthday!

Yesterday was my nephew’s 6th birthday!  My how time flies.  His 1st birthday doesn’t seem that long ago…in his argyle sweater, gelled hair, taking first steps and making a silly squishy face J
video





And now he’s in kindergarten, playing sick in the nurse’s office to go home and play wii all day, and just lost his first tooth! And now I'm watching my own baby take her first steps! *sigh*

Happy Birthday Ryu, love you! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Be Careful with Pyrex

I’ve heard of this happening before, but never really thought twice about it.  It was one of those "it wouldn't happen to me kinda things." Pyrex bake ware recently exploded in my friend’s hands.  Read what happened to her here Luckily she was unharmed. You can also read a recent CBS report about it here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What's Your Design Style?

Jess over at How About Orange posted this quiz today.  Do it!  It only takes a minute. What were your results? Was it spot on?  I think it was for me J

Results: You most resemble "Wealth and Brains"

Graceful living in a well appointed home. A kitchen that is purposeful and always intact. The subtle refinements of your sleeping nest reflect a desire for order. Like the painter's brush, your composition is done in living color. Lake Cabin table for your salads and seafood. A lithe and agreeable cab - no meal required. On cobbled streets, character abounds. A creative and social space, your kitchen is managed competently by you.

Suspected "Wealth and Brains"...
- Oprah Winfrey
- John Kennedy
- Michelle Obama

I hope to have more posts with pictures or tutorials or recipes next week! Stay with me J

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Las Tablas vs. Tango Sur - Get Your BYOB + Meat On

I had the day off on MLK Day and was supposed to have a sweet brunch at Toast to catch up with girlfriends and a savory dinner at Las Tablas (haven’t had date night since October!). But we had a fussy sick baby which meant staying home and cuddling all day. I want to use those Groupons soon though! However, a few weeks ago, I was able to catch up with some old coworkers at Las Tablas. Here's my review...

We usually try to do BYOB and I love meat, so I picked Las Tablas, a Colombian steakhouse. The restaurant’s rustic wooden tables and chairs handmade and imported from Colombia make it warm and cozy on a cold winter night. Clearly you can tell I love to be warm and cozy in the winter. In a few months you’ll see that I like fresh and airy when I can dine al fresco again! Back to dinner...we started with an assortment of empanadas and a plate of Arepa Chorriada (melted cheese over arepa sautéed in criolla sauce – I have no idea what that means, but melted cheese, mMMM!).  I had a combination of Entraña Skirt Steak (house specialty) and grilled pork loin served with fried sweet plantain, yuca, and potato.  The name Las Tablas comes from the wooden boards on which the restaurant serves most of the dishes. They have chimichurri type sauces at the tables which are delicious over the tasty thin pieces of meat.  So with no wait, BYO wine, appetizers, meat and potatoes for $30 including tax & tip, I’m a happy camper J **Note: check their BYOB policy before you go, it’s a little particular and different in each location.

For more BYOB and meat, I have yet to find one person who doesn’t love Tango Sur, an Argentinean steakhouse.  But since everyone loves this place and it’s in a hot spot in the city, it takes forever/is difficult to get a table, on I think any day. And it’s small and loud inside. A little too cozy. Similar to Las Tablas, I'd get empanadas and some piece of meat with potatoes with chimichurri sauce at the table. Granted, Tango Sur probably has more cuts and way bigger pieces of meat, I’d still pick Las Tablas over Tango Sur.

Try each of them out and let me know what YOU think!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

*Cricket*Cricket*

Hmmmm…I don’t know what to tell you about this week! It’s not that I haven’t been cooking or taking pictures or crafting.  I’ve been doing plenty of crafting (birthday party and baby shower), but I’m saving all those details for post-party posts J And I probably don’t remember what to blog about since I haven’t gone through my pictures lately. Mia's been sick too, which means sleep deprived cranky parents.

But to tide you over for today, here are two links from last week:
*Hilarious “Wedding Hangover Anniversary Party” over at Hostess With The Mostess - how about that baby!? Lol part 1 and part 2
*And on a more serious note, Samster Mommy was brave enough to put it out there, and I think it’d be helpful for non-parents to read to get a glimpse of parenthood. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Rome Wasn't Built In a Day

I originally wasn't going to post this because it got wordy and lengthy and no one would probably care.  But then my friend asked me if he should splurge on an expensive Pottery Barn piece, or be patient and wait for something better and reasonably priced to come along.  So here is my wordy lengthy post kinda related to that.

There was a post from How Does She last week was about taking the work out of housework.  She said: To quote one of my favorite organizers, Peter Walsh, “Your home is the outward expression of what you value, what you enjoy, and what is important to you. I truly believe in this as well. And decorating my home will continually be a challenge for me. Probably because I don’t know what to do with bare walls and am hesitant about making large scale (size and price) purchases. 

Anyway, she goes on to say that “First, you must create a sense of pride and ownership for the place you currently live.  Many of us aren’t living in our “Barbie Dream House” but we can make our house, apartment, or wherever we are currently living, our ideal home.  I often hear ladies say, “When we get into a bigger house, I’ll be able to keep it clean,” or “Once we move into our permanent house, then I’ll paint,” or a number of other excuses as to why we aren’t happy with our current residence.  Ladies, we simply can’t wait to start enjoying our homes.” In college, my roommate who was only around for one semester didn’t want to decorate her room one bit since she’d be leaving in four months.  And I remember saying “So what?! You’re living here now! Make it homey!” even if it was just a college apartment for one semester.

And as I shared my blog reading for the day with Doug he said (in regard to my slow decorating process), “But it takes years for you to fully express yourself and decorate your home.  The first year you were expressing I’m a boring blah person.  It’s going to take 10 years for you to fully be happy with the “expression” of our future house in the burbs with all the space available.”  And to that I said, HMPH JERK! Rome wasn’t built in a day.  So yes, it will take time because I want my home to be a cozy comforting retreat that expresses all the places we’ve been and all the things we’ve done. And you don’t instantly have those things. They come with time.  Our bare condo the first year was a new beginning, a fresh start, a clean slate and the start of a new life together. Jerk! On a sidenote, I am still super sad that when I traveled Europe in college, I didn't have a home (or luggage big enough) to buy things for at the time. And now, who knows when I'll be back to gather those wordly things to decorate my home with. L

In conclusion, if you are still reading my thoughts for today (thanks for hanging in there!), I’ll have to keep reminding myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day…It will take time…It will all come together…Be patient...You'll find everything to piece it together.  I love when I randomly find things that are just *perfect*.  Like these bed sheets I found recently at Target for Mia's room.  They match her rug and baskets and make me giddy.  You'll see when I eventually do a post on Mia's room, when I feel like all the details are complete, even though she's already one. I digress, again. I do my best to make our house our cozy home and it will be a continous process.  What is your bedroom/house/apartment/living space saying about you?

And because I'm not done talking yet (sorry!), this was our addition for the weekend. I've had these frames (which were empty) for months (as usual).  Since I ordered 500+ pictures last week, we were finally able to put these up.  I randomly spotted the frames for $2 each on clearance at Joann (reg. $7).  And they match our bedding and drapes perfectly (unfortunately I can't help but be matchy matchy, someone please teach me how to not do this).  I should've gone with my instinct and left that middle picture for a 5x7 frame, but instead I cut it and now there's Mia's giant face. If only I can find her footprints from the hospital, it'll get replaced. Something so small and simple, but I can't help but stop, stare and think about our year everytime I walk by. *happy sigh* After all that blabbering, Happy Friday! Frreal this time.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Naughty Book!

This baby is flicking me off! And she's even blushing about it! Ok, so Mia was the one that tore off all the fingers, but one. She likes the Karen Katz flap books (thanks for introducing us Suzette!). But tears off some pages in the process, as you can see from these hands being taped on, yet still managing to get some fingers off! Happy Friday everyone! Wait a minute, it's only Thursday. Darnit! This week is dragging....L

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stuck in the Snow?

This happened to us on Christmas, but now that it’s snowing again in Chicago, it could happen to you too! So here’s my tip and trick for the day.  

I have a little sedan that’s rear wheel drive = not good for Chicago winters. Every winter my handy mechanic (aka my dad) puts on my winter wheels. But then I also buy two heavy sandbags from Menards to put in my trunk. They are so helpful to weigh my little car down and prevent sliding uncontrollably on icy streets. It’s pretty cheap too, less than $10, I think. Oh, I also have a little red shovel in my trunk. From when I was 6 (no lie, this family doesn’t throw anything away). Just in case I ever needed to dig myself out.  Anyway, on to the rest of the tip…I remember my dad saying that if I were to ever get stuck in the snow where my wheels just spin and the car’s going nowhere…I can take the sand and toss it under the wheels so my tires have traction to get moving again.   

On Christmas Day, we were stuck in a driveway.  Doug was trapped in the driver seat because his door was blocked in by a stupidly placed nearby tree, so I had to hop out and save us (with the help of my brother in law).  I shoveled away the snow around my wheels with my handy little shovel, threw some sand under the wheels, and 20 minutes later, we were moving again! 

Be safe, don’t get stuck out there!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Playoff Sunday Lunch - French Dip Crock Pot Sandwich

When blog hopping (again), I came across a French Dip Crock Pot Sandwich recipe.  I emailed it to myself and saved it for a rainy day with a "recipes" label.  Gmail's labels make it way easier to find things whereever I may be, as opposed to saving/bookmarking a recipe on my work or home computer. Anyway, only a few ingredients, minimal work, melted cheese and toasted bread, what’s not to like??
Mama Stuart’s Notes:
  1. After 8 hours, it wasn’t easily shredding yet.  Since I put it in at midnight and wanted it ready at noon the next day, I had time to let it sit longer than the suggested 8 hours. By lunchtime, it was shreddable goodness J
  2. Before serving, I opened up the French rolls, put some shredded beef on one side and topped with a slice of pepper jack cheese (or swiss or whatever cheese you like).  I buttered up the other side and put in the broiler on low for a few minutes.  Then I put the top over the sandwich and broiled a few more minutes to get the outside nice and toasty.  Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t get too brown!  Broilers are hot and quick!
  3. Don’t forget to serve with a side of juice from the pot.  Dip your sandwich and sop up the goodness!
  4. But, I think it could be tastier. Hot giardiniera peppers easily solved that problem...mmMMmmM. I think next time I’ll throw some chopped up jalapenos in the crock pot.
  5. My 3.5lb roast made about 12 servings.
Love how it took me two minutes to “prep” this. It’s a perfect meal for watching football for hours on a cold winter day. Ok so I did Winter One-derland art projects while everyone else watched football, but still J

Monday, January 10, 2011

Support Group

While blog hopping I found my calling. A support group. Other crazies like me! J You know you’re a craftaholic when…#2, 3, 5, 14, 23, 26, 29, 30, 34, 36, 44, 52, 58, 63, 66. I’m sure you won’t find it as amusing as I did, but that’s ok J. 

PS – what do we think about the signature?? Slowly learning how to better my blog...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Perfect Pair

I'm not sure these could've been anymore perfect for us, right?! They are sold as a pair by Button Empire. J
And to my surprise, in my stocking was thread, pinking shears, and an Xacto knife! Yippee!
Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Crafting Low

As I made yet another trip to Joann and Michael’s, in the same day, for the umpteenth time this week month, I felt like I reached a low. 

I already checked out with a cart full of goodies, but upon paying, I found the sale ribbon that I was looking for the entire time!  I worked up a sweat digging through that $1 bin. Tossing ribbon spools around looking for that specific shade of lavender/lilac that I picked up earlier in the week for fear of running out later in the month and not being able to find it later because it was seasonal! I felt like a mad woman. A bargain hunting crazy crafting old lady!  What have I come to!? Perhaps it was a glimpse into the future, when I will still be crafting as a Grandma, with 40% off coupons in hand.  Just like my Grandma J It was then that I realized…I must. stop. shopping. I need to just start doing already! The bags and bags of crap decorating supplies are taking over my bedroom.  Thankfully my loving, understanding, supportive husband hasn’t said a word about it yet J


Now that the Christmas decorations are gone (normally I’d be sad about this), time to start making things for Mia’s party and turn our house into a Winter One-derland! J And then transport it all to the real party venue.

I can’t wait to show you all the DIY details after the party! Will I be able to be mom, hostess, photographer, chef and party planner all in the same day?  Yikes, probably not a good idea, but we shall see. I know – all self inflicted stress.  But the pitter patters of excitement I get when it’s all said and prettily done, can’t be beat J

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sleep Training Works!

Well, it’s only been three days. But it’s working! And I hope it does from now on...
Mia has gotten used to sleeping with us now and then.  And she wants to all the time now. Not cool. So we decided to try sleep training, just like all the magazines suggest. But for you parents, here’s what we did.

After her nighttime bottle we put her in her crib. She stands up and cries. And makes Doug’s heart hurt. And I say, "Cmon, let's get out of here!" We lay her down, tell her good night, shuuush here and there.  Thanks to JC and Shannon, Mia has Violet who plays 10 minutes of bedtime music and says “Good Night Mia. Snuggle up!” Such a cool toy and Mia loves her! Anyway, Mia will continue to cry. But we leave and shut the door. She’ll keep crying. But I think she gets it now, and stops crying just a few minutes after. 

If she’s still crying after 10 minutes we’ll go back in and do it all over again. Lay her down, tell her she did a good job with the first 10 minutes, turn Violet on for another 10 minutes of music, say good night and some more shuuushes.  Then leave and close the door. We won’t go back in for 20 minutes this time.  If she’s quiet, we won’t go back in for an hour or so to check on her. We’ve learned that just because she’s quiet doesn’t mean she’s sleeping. If we go back in too soon while she's quiet, she’ll get up immediately and start crying and we have to go through the whole process again.

This is probably where a video monitor would come in handy.  But I think we’re going to try and save the $150+ and go with our method for now. Mia has successfully put herself to sleep the past three nights. And we can get a good night’s rest (or crafting in my case).  Let’s hope we can keep this up!