Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pardon My Absense

Sister in the hospital yet again. I'll be MIA again. Prayers please.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

James vs. Ryan

I assume we're all familiar with the meme where images of Ryan are paired with pick up lines of an intellectual, feminist and/or sexy ilk. No? Here's a small sampling:

From Feminist Ryan Gosling:

And then there's Fuck Yeah! Ryan Gosling:

And my personal favorite, Handmade Ryan Gosling:

Well, apparently, Mr. James Franco is a little jealous.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” said the befuddled 33-year-old thespian and graduate student. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, Ryan’s a great guy. But he spends his spare time hanging out in Disneyland and eating ice cream. Do you know what I do in my spare time? I collect graduate degrees."
I couldn't help myself. I had to create an image with my favorite of Franco's quotes:

 HA! I hope someone makes James his own tumblr full of him saying awesome, slightly sarcastic things. :) I love him so hard.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Swap: We Love Lucy Christmas

Oh man.

I love swaps.

I love the We Love Lucy Ravelry Group swaps especially. It seems people are REALLY good stalkers in that group. You might remember that in the last Lucy swap I was totally floored by the fact that my partner somehow figured out that I bake cupcakes.

This swap I had the amazing Izzy. It turns out we're VERY similar people, which is pretty awesome when it comes to a swap partner. We both like bright colors, make up, nail polish & Downton Abby.

Issy did an amazing job finding things that I loved so much I literally squealed when I opened them. No joke. Actual squeals of delight. Observe...

This is what the box looked like when I opened it:

And here's all the little packages wrapped up so cheerfully:

Inside all those packages was this amazingness:

Ok... "When Bad Things Happen To Good Knitters"? Best book ever. It's a great, easy to follow, step-by-step guide to all the knitting tricks I need to learn! It's awesome! There are very clear pictures and I can't wait to really read through it!

The yarn is King Cole Galaxy (a wool/acrylic blend with little sequins throughout- so cute) in red and purple and King Cole Baby Alpaca (100% alpaca- my favorite fiber) in a mossy green & a subdued lilac. They all feel beautifully soft and I love all the colors.

I LOVE that she included matching buttons! It made me want to decide on a project right away. At least one ball is going to become a Juliet scarf. The other... I'm think some kind of cowl or maybe a slouchy hat (since I look so awesome in them ;)!) with a little button on the edge? Your recommendations are welcome!

And the nail polishes... so awesome. I know Rimmel London is heavily advertised, but I don't think I've ever actually seen it sold in stores here. I'm going to have to really keep my eye out because the colors she sent (a vibrant blue & a very sunny yellow) are SUPER saturated & dry really quickly. She also sent a crackle top coat which is so cool. Look:

Yeah, that's right. I already have it on! I love it soooo much!

I also gasped when I opened this little beauty:

HA! A posh little Hello Kitty vainly checking herself out in her mirror! I love it!

She also sent this awesome little key chain made by her daughter! How adorable is that? And this totally cute candy tin featuring one of my guilty pleasures!

The handmade gift from Issy also floored me. Check out the longest Queen Anne's Lace scarf ever:
That's it folded in half, people! It has to be 10 feet long! I'm so excited about it, too. I've been crocheting for a million years but for some reason every time I've tried this pattern I just can't get it! The colors are so bright & cheerful too-- made with King Cole's Wicked. In her note Issy said this was to wear to see Wicked this month! This is AWESOME because the dress I'm wearing is what I like to call a little "boob-tastic", so draping this multiple times will help keep me warm & not flashing people! The colors are very "Over The Rainbow"! It's absolutely perfect.

Finally, her very cute and thoughtful card said this tea is for my little sister, who, as you know, is recovering from a coma

How incredibly sweet is that? I'm so touched that she thought of my little Sarah that I could just cry. Of course... that's immediately followed by the thought that English Breakfast is my favorite tea and this looks really delicious. :) We're so close to Christmas that I might not see Sarah until Christmas Eve, so I think I'm going to wrap it up and put a little note saying it's from Issy in England. :) Sarah was really interested in the little gift I made for Issy and asked what she'd be sending me in return, so I think she'll get a kick out of receiving this! 

I'm so happy to receive all these amazing things! Everything is just perfect! Yay swaps!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pattern: Puffy Flower

A question came up in the Ravelry forum about a particular type of flower that no one could seem to find a pattern for. While what I have below isn't exact, it gives the right feeling so I thought I'd share:

Lia's Puffy Flower

Materials: Small amount of worsted weight in white and another color (MC)
US size J crochet hook
tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Special Stitch:
"Treble Popcorn": ^yo twice, insert into sc, pull up a loop, yo, pull through 2, repeat from ^ 4 more times (11 loops on hook). yo, pull through all loops

In White: 6sc in magic loop. SS into first sc to close circle. Pull tail end tight to tighten up magic loop. Fasten off.

In MC:
ss into any white sc
{chain 2; work "Treble popcorn"; chain 3, ss into same sc, ss in next sc}

Repeat all {to} 5 more times for 6 petals

Some tips:
  • Pull tight after you yarn over & pull through all 11 loops to secure the popcorn stitch. This gives your petal a lot of volume.
  • Run your finger behind the petal to push all the stitches forward before doing your chain 3 to make it nice and puffy.

Let me know if you have any questions! This is the first pattern I'm posting so I'm excited for any feedback. If you make some PLEASE link to a picture so we can all enjoy!

Christmas Plates

Oh dear. It's begun. Today is officially the start of my Christmas Baking Season. I'm a little late. The plan had been to prepare logs of cookie dough a week ago and freeze it, ready to slice & bake closer to Christmas. Was anyone else totally thrown off by Christmas landing on a Sunday?

When my mom was still alive she did most of the Christmas shopping. I bought a few presents- for friends, my closest cousin, whoever I picked in the gift exchange- but for all the million aunts, uncles & cousins I was happy to let mom buy gifts and I'd fill out tags saying they were from the whole family.

Since she passed away (this will be our 3rd Christmas without her), I've taken on a lot of that role. The first year I did everything she would have- bought every gift, cooked every dish- on top of my own baking & gift buying. I even recreated her recipes (most of which she'd never taught me). Last year we divided the work up, with me baking for all the couples & buying for all the singles, my sister buying for the teen/little girls and dad buying for the teen/little boys.

I'm scaling back my baking this year, partly because it's getting close to Christmas and I'm just starting and partly because it got expensive. So this year I'm sticking with very homey, not fancy stuff I know people really liked last year. Only two are dipped in chocolate (which is a time consuming process), so things should go much faster this year.

Are you doing any holiday baking? What are your favorite recipes?

Monday, December 12, 2011

MIA again/Christmas!

I've been MIA again, haven't I?

Sorry! But you know what? It's Christmastime! Ok, not really. But it is Advent & that means getting prepared for Christmas. This past weekend was awesome- filled with holiday parties, friends, good food & lots of great conversation. On Friday we had a surprise birthday dinner for one of my favorite guys. On Saturday I went to the Grove, the LA Farmers Market & tini (which is way cooler than it appears on the website) with two girlfriends & then built a gingerbread house at my BFF's apartment. Sunday I had coffee & watched Kitchen Impossible with some friends and then had an awesome sushi dinner & watched New Year's Eve with some more friends. Really amazing weekend.

I started to freak out a little about how behind I was on my Christmas Shopping. Thanks to Google Docs I am very aware of who I'm buying for, what ideas I have for them, what's already been purchased, what my budget is and how much I've already spent. It's really been a lifesaver in years past. Unfortunately, this weekend it was just reminding me how much I HAVEN'T done yet! But I remedied that today. I used my VIB gift card at Sephora (free 20 bucks!!). I thought about what I already had in my "this might make a good gift for someone" stash & assigned it to people. Now I have only 3 presents left to buy. So exciting!

How is your Christmas shopping going? Are you making anything? Got any great sales to tip me off to?

Friday, December 2, 2011

FO Friday: Hiphop-o-potomus

My friend brought her little 9 month old daughter to my birthday brunch. Baby G is so freaking cute. She was super well behaved & was quite amused with the dozen adults passing her around. Her momma mentioned that they like hippo things for her. I stayed up a few nights and through together a hat & booties for her.

The hat was just off the top of my head as I went along. The hippo applique was fun. I adjusted the sizing by skipping a few rows for the ones on the shoes. 

I followed GoodKnits' pattern for toddler shoes, but again skipped many rows because Baby G has teensy tiny feet that have barely grown since she was born.

For something I threw together in a couple hours, I'm pretty pleased. If I hadn't been making up the hat & trying to figure out how to reduce the hippo pattern on the fly I think it would have taken half the time. I wrote a little card to Baby G thanking her for coming to my party and sent it off in the mail. They were well received and I can't wait to see her in them!

Naturally, the deets have all been Rav'd.

Lia's Big Adventure: Remember the Alamo

I'm spending the week in Texas visiting my dear friend Christina (from my NET team) and hanging out with my cousin, taking advantage of the fancy suite her work put her up in for a training in Dallas.

The first half of the week I hung out in Georgetown with Christina & her family. Christina is one of my favorite people and her mom is awesome, so it was really fun to get to hang out with them. Chris and I went out for bar-b-que and did a wine tasting at Georgetown Winery. I spent time at the local coffee shop doing my Cyber Monday shopping and bought some books at the used bookstore. We sat at her home talking and I taught her to crochet.

On Tuesday we took a mini road trip down to San Antonio to see the Alamo. I don't know what I expected but when I got there I was really surprised by how small it was.

It was beautiful though. I had never thought about how it was both a mission AND a war memorial. It was so interesting to see details like the names of Mary and St. Anthony statues along side tributes to those involved in the battle.

As a Catholic Chicana this was kind of a weird stop on my trip. I celebrate Mexico's defeat of the French Army on May 5th. I'm very aware that some of my family has been in the Southwestern United States since it was Northwestern Mexico. So is this the site of Mexico's last stand in Texas? Or as an American do I "remember the Alamo" as a huge defeat that became the rallying cry that lead to further victories against the Mexican government? Or as a Catholic do I view it mainly as a sacred place where Mass was celebrated? When it came down to it, all those conflicting feelings obscured each other and it felt like a generic tourist destination for most of my time there. Still, in the quiet moments before it closed, I was reminded of the sacraments celebrated, the lives lost and the sacredness of the space. Later, on the Riverwalk we took a tour boat and the operator told us one hotel was built several stories shorter than planned when it was discovered a taller building would have cast a shadow on the Alamo at sunset. That sort of respect is remarkable and something Texas clearly does a lot better than California, and I'd be willing to bet MOST other US states.

God bless Texas.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Yarn Along: October Leaves

Ginny says: ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~ 

I'm in Texas this week visiting a friend in Austin and later hanging out with my cousin in Dallas. As is always the case, although I have a million books I need to read at home I managed to get to the airport without anything to read on the plane and had to buy one in the airport gift shop. Luckily, The Immortal Life of Herietta Lacks is FINALLY in paperback! You can see my little Anderson Cooper cutout bookmark peeking out the top. I'm about half way through and LOVING this book.

I'm using Dream In Color Everlasting Sock in "basalt" to make some October Leaves Fingerless Mittens for a Christmas gift. Unfortunately, I really detest dpns & I ALSO managed to leave my circs at home. SIGH. I'm not sure this present is going to be made on time. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

This past Sunday my closest friends had brunch with me to celebrate my birthday. I had every intention of giving a little speech, but many many mimosas prevented that from happening. I'll try to express here what I meant to there. While this is addressed specifically to a group of 15 or so that were there that day, it represents my feeling for all my friends and family who have shown so much support over the past month.

This month started out with the worst week of my life. A couple people have been surprised when I've said that. It turned out well, so how could it have been worse than when my mother died? But it was. Sitting by my sister's hospital bed, in the same ICU I sat in multiple times by Mom's, thinking this amazing woman who is like my sister, best friend and daughter all rolled into one might die-- it was worse. But she's better now and there's no way my father, Harold & I could have gotten through that week without some pretty amazing people.

I am incredibly grateful for the people at this table. You visited us at the hospital and made us get out in the fresh air. You talked to me on the phone for hours about my sister, her health, her doctors and stupid drama that had to do with nothing to do with any of that. You translated doctor-speak for my family and helped us understand what was happening. You text messaged asking about Sarah and my dad and me. Even those of you who didn't really know until the crisis was over... you provided inspiration and hope even when you didn't know it. You listened to me vent. You cried with me, showing more empathy and love than I could have imagined before this. You emailed and called and prayed and facebooked and tweeted your love. You loved me and you loved my sister in your own individual ways and now you even showed up on short notice in the rain to be here with me. 

There is no way to express how much all of that means to me. I am so thankful for each and every one of you. I am continuallly surprised by the number of wonderful, quality friends who have opened their hearts to me and can only hope that I am worthy of you. From the bottom of my heart and the depth of my soul, thank you for your friendship and love.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yarn Along-- While She Was Sleeping

Participating in Ginny for Small Things's Wednesday Yarn Along. Take a picture of the book you've been reading and the knitting you've been...er... knitting and share it with her readers!

I had a LOT of time to read while my sister was in a coma for a week. It started out with a book my BFF re-gifted to me. I purchased The Beauty Of Humanity Movement for her when Kath from Whip Up brought it to my attention. My BFF LOVES pho (that amazingly tasty, simple Vietnamese soup) and Beauty of Humanity revolves around a man who makes it for a living. It was a beautiful book, exploring themes of love, loss, war, revolution, art, bi-cultural issues... it was so wonderful. Next I read The Nakesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, which I purchased at a little second-hand bookshop in the mountains the day before my sister was hospitalized. It was a great follow-up to Beauty of Humanity because it also deals with love, loss and American-born children dealing with bi-cultural issues. I loved it so much that I bought Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize winning book of short stories Interpreter of Maladies. It was also very good, but I think sometimes reading all the work of one author tells you things about them that you perhaps don't want to know. Lahiri seems to have some serious issues with marriage. It reminds me of when I fell in love with John Irving after reading A Prayer for Owen Meanie. I bought all his books and after reading the third weird-sex-ridden book I swore off him forever. Finally, my cousin brought in several magazines and one of them recommended Irma Voth, which I thought would follow my theme of American culture vs culture of birth. Irma is a Mennonite woman who is struggling with tradition. I haven't enjoyed it as much as the others and am still working through it.

The week prior to my sister's hospitalization was a tough one emotionally as well. A big issue was that a friend of mine, who also happened to be the intended recipient of a project I had been working extremely hard on, proved to be very VERY unknitworthy. I was so disappointed that I pulled out all my best yarns- the ones I bought after lusting after them and spent way too much on- and went through my Ravelry favorites and finally decided to cast on a beautiful scarf in some Malabrigo Silky Merino in the colorway I stalked for months- Arco Iris. It's turning out beautifully and I can't wait to wear it. Silky Merino is so soft!

Thank you for putting up with me going missing for so long. My sister is doing SO much better! She's at home now. She's still on an oxygen machine and a ton of meds but just being able to talk to her and see her walking around on her own is amazing.

Hop on over to Small Things and share your projects or just see all the other great knits & reads there!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I've been missing in action due to a family emergency. My little sister (24 yrs old) has been in the ICU since last Sunday. Prayers are appreciated!

Friday, October 28, 2011


There are approximately 5032 things on my to-do list at home but, in all honesty, I'm battling a pretty serious bout of depression right now. So instead, I drove up the mountain, rented a room at a B&B and sat on the deck feeding peanuts to bluejays all day.

Sometimes loud, greedy birds are just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Yarn Along

Ginny at Small Things hosts a "yarn along" every week. She shares a photo of her current knitting/crocheting project with the book she is currently reading.

I'm in the midst of a massive project and a really busy time at work. This quick post idea seems like the perfect way to share the happier, more peaceful moments I manage to grab! :)

I'm using remnants from Jack's hexi-blankie to make these little elephants, which will become a mobile for over his crib. I'm so late finishing but I plan to give it to him & his mommies this weekend. Meanwhile, I'm just starting the 3rd of the Mysterious Benedict Society books. I love this series. It's written for a 4th-6th grade level, I'd guess, but it's really interesting. I'm so happy Prisoner's Dilemma is finally in paperback!

Be sure to check out this week's Yarn Along post to see what others are working on/reading & share your own!

On another note- Please pray for my little friend Abby (2 yr old daughter of one of my NET brothers). She's having a surgery on her bladder/uterus on Wednesday. Thanks!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Riverside Yarn Adventures

I had an unexpected day off  a couple weeks ago so I made use of it by meeting my then-VERY-pregnant friend for coffee in an town about halfway between the two of us. (She just gave birth this weekend! I've made a few things for the baby and I'm really excited to see him use them!)

On the way home I made use of the tons of free time & the fact that I was passing through downtown Riverside gave me an excuse to go hunt down a few yarn shops I'd heard of.

My first stop was a bit of an adventure. I didn't quite remember what street Designer Handknits was on, which turned out not to matter since they'd moved since I'd last looked them up! I did eventually find them and boy was I glad I did. It's a pretty big store- taking up what would be two store fronts in a small strip mall- with one side jam-packed with yarn & the other carrying a hearty selection of books surrounding a few large tables. There were several people sitting, chatting & knitting. The woman working (the owner maybe?) was SUPER friendly and made me feel like a regular customer right away. I have made a commitment not to stash any new yarn for the rest of the year, but I felt almost guilty leaving without making a purchase. They have TWO evening (Tuesdays & Thursdays) when they are open in the evening. I can totally see this becoming MY store.

Designer Handknits carries a Noro and Misti Alpaca- two of my personal favorites. They also had a lot of Araucania, which I almost never see offline. Strangely, I didn't see ANY Malabrigo, which seems to be an LYS staple. They also had a ton of yarns I'd never even heard of!

My next stop was Knitting With Sandra. This shop was a good size, again with a few large tables in the middle where there were several ladies knitting & eating. The owner was there, along with at least one other employee. There seemed to be a third worker on her lunch break. Seemed like a LOT of people working for a small shop, but everyone was friendly & helpful. There isn't a lot of selection at Sandra's. If my stash had fewer brands but the same number of skeins I think I'd fill the shop more solidly. I did end up buying the Wonderful Wallaby booklet and a large skein of cotton yarn (forgot the name) to make a baby Wallaby.

Sandra's carries Berocco & Lamb's Pride, among others. The employee let me know they would order any other colors I might need. They are open late on Wednesdays.

So if you're ever in Riverside, CA stop by one of these little shops and browse. In fact, go to both. They are no more than 2 miles from each other & have very different vibes but are both lovely.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Slouchy Hat

I never wear hats. Ever. I have a huge head, for one, so it's hard to find a hat that will A) fit & B) not look comically tiny once on. But the other day I went to the store and my hair looks like a rats nest and I wished I had one of those oh-so-in-style-right-now slouchy hats that I could hide my hair under. Wouldn't you know it? Some girl with curly hair walked by and had one on and she looked awesome. Sigh. Major hat envy.

So last night I decided to make one. The boys brought me some bulky wool yarn from their trip to Iceland. It was a really thoughtful gift but... um... it's BULKY. And it's got little flecks of different colors in it. And it's NOT merino so my slight wool allergy goes crazy feeling it scratch me. So no making anything that's going to touch my skin. Oh... but it'll make a good hat!

So while watching reruns of friends I made a Gumdrop Slouchy Hat. It's a SERIOUSLY easy pattern by Julie from Gleeful Things (cute blog. check it out.). I decided to go with a crochet pattern because I wanted to be able to finish quickly (in case I hated the way it looked) and have more control over the size. I still have a fear of adjusting knitting patterns. That wound up being good because I did make a few small mods to fit my monster head better.

Here's me:

Here's the hat from the back:
Eagle eyes will be able to spot the "seam" pointing about 1o'clock on my head. I don't think it's THAT noticable, but I might make sure to have it run down the bottom in the future. 

Over all I'm really pleased. I think it's a style I can pull off. I might be trying a few fancier designs soon.

Oh, and of course it's been Rav'd

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fall Goals

Craft Related:
  • Knit myself a wrap or sweater
  • Finish Jack's mobile before he arrives!
  • Organize my yarn stash & knitting/crocheting supplies
  • NO yarn purchases unless absolutely necessary to finish a WIP
  • Make Christmas presents for Dad's side.*

Non-Craft Related:
  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Rearrange bedroom
  • Clear clutter from living/dinning area
  • Get into a habit of having Personal Prayer Time** every day 

*So last year I decided not to go crazy with Christmas presents for Dad's side of the family. Mom's side has done a gift exchange where each adult only buys a present (around $50) for one other adult for YEARS. My dad's side refuses to do this and instead we all try to stretch very meager budgets to buy for 3  dozen people. Last year I baked & crocheted little Christmas garlands for each family & called it a day. I didn't expect a big reaction, but people LOVED the garlands. So I think I'll do ornaments or something this year.

** On NET we had lots of different specific kinds of prayer time. We had Team Prayer every day where we'd sing & pray together. We of course prayed on retreat. We went to Mass. We prayed in our gender groups. And every single day we each took at least 30 minutes (almost always in the morning) to pray on our own. Something one of the staff members said toward the end of the year has stayed with me ever since: "The way you'll know if your NET year was successful is not if you're still talking to your teammates or if you're working in ministry... You'll know you had a successful year if you're still taking personal prayer time in 20 years." Yeah. I haven't been the best at that. Lately, I've felt really disorganized, anxious & unfocused. I think getting back into that routine will really help with all that.

What are your goals for the next few months?

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Art of Finishing

Why do I do this to myself? I knit or crochet things- get them all done- except for the finishing. Buttons, zippers, sewing up of things.... I just can't do it. I leave it to the last minute. Remember when I was late to my niece's birthday party because I waited until after the part started to even BUY the button for her purse? 

I've been working on a baby blanket  on and off since August of last year! The crochet part was completed in May but the "wrong side" definitely looks wrong. It's also rather thin. So the plan was to back it with some thin flannel. I've decided to give it to my BFF's baby so I bought the flannel a few weeks ago. And it sat there. Sat, folded up, sad and alone until YESTERDAY! The baby shower is Saturday and sewing on this backing is SUCH a pain. I have no idea if it'll actually get done.

Anyone have any good advice for me? I can't get over this hatred of finishing!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Matryoshka Baby Shower Details

So now that I've had a few days to recover, I thought I'd share a little about the big baby shower!

Choosing a non-traditional theme was a challenge. While matryoshkas are popping up all over in jewelry, stationary and such it still wasn't like I could pop into a party supply store and pick up lots of matryoshka paper goods. We also wanted to keep things classy with a simple blue & white pallet. We used several shades of blue, which made things look less matchy-match.

The tables:
The flowers were simple tissue paper with pipe cleaner stems. Jen wrapped the inside of the vases with light blue tissue to conceal the pipe cleaner. We picked up some rubbery doilies at the 99 Cent Store. I have to admit, I was leery of them when we made the purchase, but Jen has a much better eye for those sorts of things. I think having them made a big difference in the look of the table. The confetti is also paper. We got a couple bags at $4 a pop from Party City- a big party supply store in town.

The favor boxes were these printables I purchased from Fantastic Toys on etsy. The pdf came quickly and was beautiful. They were kind of a pain to make, but that's not a design problem... I just don't think they're meant to make 30+ at a time. If I never see these things again it might be too soon. They were a hit though. We used the 3 biggest sizes (the pdf comes with 5 sizes) and filled them with butter mints bought at WinCo in the bulk section.

Other decor:
Jen bought these cardboard 3D letters (and exclamation point!) from Paper Source and covered them in tissue paper. I loved this little addition to to food table. People also grabbed these to use in the photo booth.

We had only a few traditional matryoshkas to scatter about, but they were nice little accents. We had planned to hang blue, aqua, white & a few green paper lanterns from the ceiling but it didn't work out. The white ones looked cute on the food table though.

I used the images from the invitations to spruce up some basic Avery name tags. We asked people to write their name & how they were related to one or both mommies. I chose the classic "friend of mommies". My sister decided to go with a more obscure reference coupled with a really old nickname. :)

Those same invitation dolls came up again as cupcake toppers. (Look, if you pretty much completely redesigned & totally recolored images using just MS Paint, you would reuse the heck out of them too!) The cupcakes were ordered sight-unseen from Bakalicious. I had NO time to make 3 dozen carrot cake cupcakes and no desire to try to figure out how to transport them anyway. I jumped on yelp, saw that this lady had fabulous reviews & that she delivered and just decided to try it. She was a joy! The cupcakes were light and moist, the frosting was just sweet enough but still fluffy and they looked beautiful. At $2 a cupcake she was by far the best buy in the North LA area. I highly, HIGHLY recommend ordering from her if you're in the area. I plan to use her again for an upcoming party.

The activities:
Along with two classic games (Baby Tray Memory- try to remember all the baby items shown to you- and Pregnancy Trivia- answer questions about the mommy-to-be's pregnancy) we tried two newer ideas.

Ice Ice Baby: This was, honestly, a little creepy looking... but everyone had fun. I purchased a matryoshka shaped ice cube tray and froze tiny plastic babies inside. We handed these ice babies out along with plastic bowls to catch the water. Without breaking the ice (it must be melted) and without leaving the room, the first person to get the baby out of the ice wins. My sister & Dr. Steven (an Ob/Gyn) ran to the sink and fought over the hot water while a coworker ran to the iron! Dr. Steven got the baby out first, which made everyone laugh. The whole thing lasted maybe 30 seconds. I would suggest not letting people use anything but natural heat.

Onesie Decorating: This is an increasingly popular activity that takes a lot of prep work & a lot of time at the party, but I think it's worth it. We purchased a bunch of onesies in different sizes on sale. Then we collected fabric paint (flat, not puffy paint), some stencils, fabric markers, iron on letters & some decals. We brought a small table-top ironing board & iron and set up a little table. Throughout the shower people went up and made their onesies. I was really afraid the mommies would end up with 30 hideous things no one would want their baby to wear, but there were actually some cute products! The less-adventurous people used the iron-on decals while the more artistically inclined used the other supplies. We strung up some jute and let people hang their creations up with clothespins to dry/show off.

Handmade Gifts:
I am a firm believer that children need handmade presents. I can't tell you how disappointed I am that I'm almost always the only one bringing something made especially for the baby to most showers now. Come on grandmas! If you can't pull out your needles, hooks & sewing machines for your grandbaby, when will you?

Ok... end rant... here are the special handmade items made or purchased for Jack

I bought this adorable personalized hanger from Floating Owl Designs on etsy. It was really well made, came on time & she was a pleasure to work with. I can totally see buying the grown up versions for future brides. (The little suitcases were purchased from Land of Nod. They were packed with clothes, books, shoes and....)

"Ella Funt" made with KnitPicks Comfy Sport in Planetarium. Colorwork done in Comfy & Shine scraps from a blanket I'll be gifting at the family shower. (Details on Ravelry.) This was a really fun, remarkably fast knit- especially considering I'm a new knitter & this was my first fair isle project.

"Owlet" made with KnitPicks Comfy Bulky in Arbor (now discontinued). As I've said before- I LOVE this pattern. I plan to make a bunch of them for the babies in my family this Christmas. (details on Ravelry)

I totally missed getting a picture of the "car snuggy" that a friend I don't know made. It was a crochet square- maybe 24x24 inches. So a small blanket- meant for the baby to snuggle with in the car. Totally cute, quick present idea.

And finally.... I saved the pregnant mommy's brother's girlfriend's gift for last because it is INCREDIBLE:

This was a needle felted elephant, done entirely free hand. It was just over 12 inches tall! If you've never needled felted you might not understand the incredibleness of this. It's HUGE for this type of project and she didn't use any sort of form underneath. It's just polyfil covered in wool fiber & felted by hand with a needle tool. The girl who made this is an incredible artist. She's made beautiful sculptures for each of the family members but even knowing that, this still blew me away. I think she was glad someone knew what kind of work had to be put into it. :)

Overall, I think the baby shower was a huge success and totally worth all the work & stress that went into pulling it off. Of course, when my other best friend said it looks like he & his partner will be adopting before the end of the year & was I ready for another baby shower I almost socked him. :) But I am... or I will be... just let me take a nap for like a week.

What is YOUR favorite baby shower game/theme. Any suggestions that will make the next party totally awesome?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Click the Pic

I'm not sure why, but there seem to be a lot of new faces on Pinterest who are having a hard time figuring out how it works.

In particular I've seen the following a LOT recently:

  • Comments on food pins asking "Where can I get the recipe for this?" when the pin goes to the recipe.
  • Comments on product pins asking "Where can I get this?" when the pin goes to the store.
  • People putting recipes into their descriptions or commenting on their own pins with recipes.
None of this is actually necessary. If we're following the good Pin Etiquette we're already pinning the original source (e.g.: the product page for a store rather than a magazine article talking about the product) on a permalink (e.g.: a specific blog post with the recipe rather than the front page of a blog).

So if you see something interesting on Pinterest and you want to know the who, what, where, whens of it there's just one thing to do:
Clicking on a pin you like will take you to the source of the pin. 99 times out of 100 that means you're immediately at the recipe, shop, tutorial, etc that you're looking for. If it takes you to a main page of a blog or store, you've found a not-so-great pin. Most likely the pinner doesn't know the correct link so there's no real use in asking. When I come across a mediocre pin I'm interested in I scroll through the blog (or whatever) and find the post that has the information. Then I use my "pin it" button to pin the post itself rather than repinning. This means not only will I be able to find what I'm looking for quickly, but anyone following me will have a solid pin to repin from then on.

I hope this is helpful. I think Pinterest is an amazing source of inspiration and when we're all using it to it's fullest we'll be a much happier community!

Happy pinning!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Matryoshka Baby Shower: Invitation Reveal!

Yesterday I showed you all the inspiration I got from the awesome matryoshka invitations on pinterest. I put that all together to make A&O's invitations, which I have to say I'm really happy with.

It's not super-easy to see from these pictures, but the teal doll is slightly raised from the background using mounting squares. I double the thickness for the blue doll to raise her a little higher than the teal one. In person the invitation has a lot of dimension.

I used a tiny brad to secure an oval over the pregnant mommy's tummy. After putting a few together I went back and loosened the brads- folding back just the tips of the ends- so that the oval swung more freely. I was worried that otherwise no one would think to move it and see the little bun hiding inside.

Although the graphics I purchased were lovely, I wanted the faces to be more feminine like the original inspiration. I don't have any fancy editing programs, nor do I know much about graphic design. This is where I tell you my big shameful secret: I do all my photo manipulation in Paint. That's right. Paint. The old school little program that comes standard on any PC. I just made little circles for the eyes, added a curved line for the eyelashes, fiddled with some lip shapes for a while and there you go. Oh, I also changed the color of the hair and changed the hairline on the baby to look more like a little boy.

So there you go, friends. You don't need to spend lots of money. I paid $4 for the original clipart. The background papers were $7 for two packages at Joann's. They were precut in the two different sizes. Brads were something like $2 and the little bling we added was just a $1 pack of stick-on rinestones from Michael's. The cream paper, embroidery floss for the bow, mounting squares, glue sticks and the photo paper I used for the dolls were all from my stash. Probably the most expensive part were the envelopes we got from PaperSource. The invitations were 4.75 by 6.5 or something, so we had to use 5x7 envelopes.

Has pinterest inspired any of your crafty endeavors?

Pin Real LIfe