Little Monsters

On Friday the 13th, my business partner and I co-hosted a baby shower for our friend Dawn. The theme was Little Monsters, based on this quilt, by Kellie at Don’t Look Now:
Dawn is decorating her son’s nursery with a quilt made from this pattern; and making window valances, a bed skirt and accessories to match.

We went all out with the theme, and we even made our first “diaper cake”… bought a pack of 36 newborn Pampers, rolled them, tied them with a small strip of fabric:Stood them on end, wrapped them tightly with a band of fabric around a plastic container (it definitely took FOUR hands to do this!), and made a second smaller layer atop the first:We bought the few “monster” themed baby items we could find, and decorated the cake with them:a bib, a monster onesie, a teething ring (I think it’s an octopus, but he looks kind of monster-like!), linky rings, and Cookie Monster and Murray Sesame Street plushies as cake toppers.

I found a “happy birthday” monster tablecloth that I cut the monsters out of, used Mod Podge to glue them to cardstock and added colored rings of paper around them to make them look like Kellie’s Little Monters. These served as table and wall decor, as well as decorated the food table. (I was glad I had the chance to recycle them for my nephew’s birthday party again the following weekend!)

My favorite decoration might have been the monster cupcakes I made and decorated the night before:I had a lot of fun creating all those different faces and looks!

Trina, my business partner, made this sweet banner that Dawn will hopefully be able to use in the nursery:
It’s appliqued, and uses some of the same fabrics in the quilt. It hung above the gift table, along with the baby’s Little Monster quilt:We had fun putting this together, and I think everyone had a good time at the party!

When you host parties, do you plan around a theme, food, decor and the works? Or do you just put out the food and drink and go with the flow?

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Summertime, and the Livin’ is Easy…

Well, okay–given the heatwave we are still in the midst of, it isn’t exactly easy or pleasant these days, but I do like that old tune.  Since early June, I’ve been longing for childhood summer days, (and envying those that still get them!)– three months off, playing outside nearly every day, riding our bikes to the pool, not caring how hot and humid it got, staying out late to catch lightning bugs in a jar.  Yeah, summer was way more fun as a kid.  Yeah, I said it.  Way more fun.  Needless to say, most of my time these days is spent indoors trying to “keep my cool”.

I’ve been doing some Summer cooking inside, making use of some of the new kitchen gadgets we received as wedding gifts.  I’ve made lemon zest before, but never with a real zester And my new Kitchenaid funnels?  Kept the lemon seeds out of my smoothie! 

Actually, this green goo is not a smoothie, it’s Avocado Ice Cream.  No ice cream maker needed–and it’s fabulous.  My sometimes picky sweetie even liked it.  It could be consumed as smoothies as it was pretty tasty even before being frozen.  

I made a rhubarb pizza one day, and because my sweetie won’t eat rhubarb, I consumed the entire thing myself over the course of a few days.  I did run the oven for that one, but not for a very long time.  Easy, quick and delish!

And I made my favorite summer entree, Strawberry Cucumber Quinoa Salad.  Yum.   If only I had the ambition to cook this way all the time, we’d be eating a lot healthier. 

RECIPES:

Mary Jane’s Avocado Ice Cream (From Mary Jane’s Farm Magazine)
Prep Time: 15 minutes / Makes 3 cups

1 large avocado, peeled and diced
1 C half-and-half
2/3 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/3 C fresh lemon juice

1. Combine avocado, half-and-half, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a blender. Puree until completely smooth.
2. Poor mixture into a 2-quart dish.
3. Cover and freeze until firm, about 4 hours. (Can be kept in an air-tight container in freezer for up to one month.)
4. Before serving, let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. (I recommend topping with fresh raspberries!)



Rhubarb Pizza

Pizza Crust:
1 C flour, fluff to aerate before measuring
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg whisked with 2 Tbsp Milk

Topping:
3 C rhubarb, chopped
3 oz. raspberry or strawberry flavored gelatin powder (I used Jello Sugar-Free)
1 C sugar
1/2 C flour, fluff to aerate before measuring
1/3 C melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter pizza pan.  In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in butter until the dough becomes small crumbles and butter is well-distributed.  Stir in the egg/milk mixture to form a dough.  Press dough into pizza pan, using your hands, slowly working the dough to the edges of the pan (wet fingers as you go if the dough seems to sticky to spread).

For topping, top unbaked crust with rhubarb.  Sprinkle gelatin powder evenly over the rhubarb.  Mix the sugar, flour and butter, sprinkle over the top.

Bake 40 minutes until slightly brown on top, cool for at least one hour before serving.



Strawberry-Quinoa Salad
serves 4

1 C quinoa, rinsed
3 C strawberries, hulled & halved
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 C sesame-ginger dressing (I use a ready made vinaigrette)
1 (5 oz.) container of baby arugula salad blend

Cook quinoa according to package directions.  Transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely, about 20 minutes.  Stir in strawberries, cucumber and 1/4 C of the dressing.

In second bowl, combine the salad greens and the rest of the dressing; toss to coat.

Divide salad blend among four plates, top each with equal amounts of the quinoa fruit mixture. 

Because I am usually cooking for two, I onnly prepare enough of the salad greens for two servings, refridgerate the leftover quinoa fruit mixture for up to three days, and preapre greens later as needed.

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Just as the July heatwave was getting into full swing, I made and decorated yet another cake

This one to honor my sister and the little gal she is about to bring into the world.  The cake itself was cherry chip/white chocolate and that icing is pure, from-scratch, Doris-made, all calories included old-fashioned buttercream.  YUM.  My own design, trying to emulate the design of the paper products her mother-in-law chose for the party.

For my Summer Quilt, see my last post.

And for all the other Summer Quilt Show and Recipes go here.

Hello, Kitty!

A sweet little friend of mine turned four last weekend.  She asked months ago for a Hello Kitty birthday party (there she is with Kitty on the cake). Her Mom is my friend Tonya, the friend that helped me create my own 3-tier wedding cake.  You might recall the Princess Cake we created for her birthday in 2010… 

For her gift this year, I made her a Hello Kitty Princess outfit.  Started with a plain white tee from Target…some scraps of Lakehouse Fabric, white flannel, a little Heat N’ Bond Lite…

Lots of satin-stitching with the walking foot…

 

Lots of “stops” and “starts” with the Janome Horizon…

Lots of pushing the tee shirt fabric out of the way of the needle….

And a lavender tutu skirt added to the bottom…and we have a birthday outfit fit for a princess!

The tagless tees always show the printing through the shirt a tad, so I added one of “Kitty”‘s bows to the back of the neck to cover it up…

The finished shirt along with the cute party invite her Mom created:

I was glad I thought to use white flannel for Kitty’s head, because not only did it add great texture to the shirt, but I didn’t have to worry about the lavender stripes showing through white cotton!

We’ve had some unseasonably warm weather already this month–nearly 100 degrees last week.  That is far too hot for the actual kitties around our house; they didn’t have the energy to care that the other was laying a mere three feet away, or to even bother chasing each other around the house. 

I don’t like the heat, but it did make it rather peaceful on the homefront.  This week, the temps are down and they are back to their usual antics.

What I did Friday night….

A sweet little friend of mine, a Princess, as a matter of fact, turned 3 years old on Saturday. So on Friday, I rushed to my peasant home (condo) after a day of toiling in the fields (office), pulled out these pink and purple trimmings….

and made her this Royal table runner…

and this Royal Banner (it’s five feet across)….

Then headed to the castle to help the mother and grandmother of the Princess decorate the Royal Dessert that would be served to her loyal subjects the following day….

We started by carefully creating 340 pink Forget-Me-Nots…

With which to decorate the Royal Confection…

A to-scale-recreation of her Royal Palace…


And after just four short hours, just before the clock struck Midnight, our Royal task was complete. I’ve no doubt we tackled our task with any less care for detail than the decorator of her Wedding cake will demonstrate!

The cake was set out the following day for her loyal subjects to parade past and admire while paying their respects to the Princess….

Not wanting to light the confectionary castle afire for the Making of a Wish, I decorated a special Tiara cake to hold the Royal torches.
The young princess had a glorious day of celebration…here she is unveiling her gifts with poise and grace, dressed in her finest robes…

After sharing cake and ice cream with her loyal subjects, she took a… (ahem….) beauty break….

a mudbath on the Royal grounds. It is hard work being a Princess, after all…

Two little monkeys…


I showed you my Curious George birthday shirts on Friday, and thought you might like to see a few shots of the party…the gift table (I should have gotten a much better shot of this as there was much more to it):

My sister (the Momma) and I decorated monkey cupcakes and yellow hat cookies the night before the party (and sampled WAY too much icing)…

Don’t you just love those Apple Jacks for ears?!? My sister had a Ziploc bag she brought out full of cereal, on it in Sharpie was written “Do Not Eat: Monkey Ears”; that really tickled my funny bone. The cupcakes didn’t turn out as well as our prototype, and the black icing ran on the hats by morning…but did anyone care? Of course not…

Least of all these two little monkeys…


It’s hard to photograph these two together, what with them being 13 and 24 months old, every shot is an action shot! The biggest hits in the gift pile were two wooden puzzles and a hammer and peg set from my brother and his family (way to go, Lesley!) who gave the big brother there directions not to use the hammer on his brother…


I just love that chubby little paw holding the peg!

And I LOVE you, my sweet little monkeys! Happy first and second birthdays!

A treat to Retreat

Last weekend I spent four wonderful days with six of my sewing pals and about fifty other ladies from our Guild at our autumn retreat at Wesley Woods. The weather was gorgeous to boot, so on my third visit to Wesley Woods I finally had the chance to take advantage of the trails and get some hiking in.

I worked on two, actually three, UFOs….photos to come. My Kyle’s Marketplace top got finished, as did my sister’s birthday gift (only one month late!) and I finished most of my Black & White UFO, here is a sneak peek of it without the borders added:


(Ignore the camouflaged blob in the center.) A detail shot to show you some of my fabulous fabrics…(see the fussy cut Eiffel Tower?):

One of my favorite parts of this retreat is at the end of the third day we have “Show-and-Tell” so you get to see what everyone has been working on. My friend Dawn, who has only been quilting for about a year and a half, completed this Day & Night quilt for a high school graduation gift, literally started and finished the quilt top at this retreat:

Stunning! And this is my friend Teresa’s winter wall hanging…not quite finished but lovely, nonetheless!

This Kinetic Energy quilt was made by Jan, one of a trio of quilting sisters at the table next to mine…

The woman who made this top, Jan is in her 70s, her sister Peggy is in her 60s, Nora the baby sister is in her 50s. They also brought along a daughter-in-law in her 40s, and one of their daughters, in her 30s. Wouldn’t you like to be a part of that family? I petitioned them for adoption, but I don’t think they felt they needed another quilter in the family. This is her sister Nora’s Tapas quilt in progress, what a great way to use stripes!…

Janet’s sunburst flower quilt, an original design…

I loved this block from Dana’s Round Robin Row Quilt….what a great use of black and white!

And a great use of flannel batiks, made by a relatively new quilter…

Those colors are unbelievably vibrant in reality! One of the unfortunate (for me) aspects of the weekend is the endless options of good food, meals and snacks…not good for a weight watcher like myself who has a little self control problem when it comes to a table full of treats available for my pleasure 24 hours a day…(seriously, I don’t think I should ever take a cruise for just that reason!). We even had a quilt themed cake, decorated by a young baker at the local Hy-Vee supermarket. Didn’t she do a great job?

Oh well, it’s only twice a year, and I did get a lot of good exercise in on those trails.

Here’s wishing all of you the chance to go on a great retreat this coming year, quilting or otherwise!