Dec 30, 2007

Family Photo Mass Production

Here is a little section of the drying 55 family photographs that Diego developed in his darkroom this afternoon. Rather than a family Christmas card, we will mail a New Year’s card wishing our friends and family the best in the New Year. I hope that tomorrow a little package from my favorite store, PaperSource, will bring me my card and envelope-making supplies. We will put the photograph on top of a red A6 flat card. I am hand making the envelopes out of vellum sprinkled with silver stars.

Dec 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Here is a package that Malena wrapped and created for Uncle Matt using recycled goods. I was inspired by the resourcefulness of my friend Yolanda at Perfecting Imperfectness. She sent me her family’s Christmas card in an envelope made from a recycled PaperSource catalog.

Because of her eco-friendly envelope, I wrapped the majority of my family’s gifts in kraft paper that was previously used as packaging material when I ordered the presents and grosgrain ribbon that can be reused.

Dec 23, 2007

Waldorf Doll in Progress

I am almost finished stitching together the body of Lautaro’s Waldorf doll. Today, I finished attaching the body and I am now working on perfecting the feet. Later, I will add hair and facial features.  I totally forget that this little doll will need clothes! My mom has the original patterns and I forget to cut my fabric while I was visiting her. So, I will trace around Baby Doreengi’s clothes (Malena’s Waldorf doll) to create patterns for Lautaro’s doll. 

I really have to hustle the remaining bits of this afternoon and tonight. I have to finish Lautaro's doll, sew doll clothing (i should probably make Baby Doreengi an outfit while I am sewing.), wrap presents and clean the house. I was hoping I would have time to sew some matching family stockings, but that will have to wait until next year at this rate!

Dec 21, 2007

Happy Winter Solstice!

My first cake that someone paid me to bake! As a fundraiser for my children’s co-op preschool, I offered my cake decorating skills and someone actually took me up on it. For a winter solstice party, I baked a carrot cake with an orange cream cheese frosting filling. I covered the cake in Satin Ice fondant. Then, I painted the fondant with a silver pearl dust. I covered the cake with fondant snowflakes dusted with glimmering silver dust. I also made white chocolate snowflakes to scatter around the base of the cake on the dessert table. I bought my cake decorating supplies at Edward’s Cake Decorating store in Modesto, CA.

Retro Swirly Cupcakes

Another big hit from my Dad's 60th birthday bash. These cupcakes are a throwback to one of the forbidden Hostess treats of childhood. I don’t think I ever had one in my life! Although I can’t compare, I am sure that these cute cupcakes from Icing on the Cake in Los Gatos are a 100 times better and without all the mystery preservatives that make them last on the 7-11 shelves for a decade.

Homemade Crème Sandwich Cookies

My Dad recently celebrated his 60th birthday. My Mom threw a fun party at their home to celebrate the big occasion. For the dessert table, I made a homemade version of one of my Dad’s favorite cookies, Oreos. I found several recipes online. After reading through several, I selected part of different recipes that highlighted what I thought would result in a crunchy chocolate cookie and a creamy, yet firm vanilla center. I was also short on time, so I wanted to create a simple recipe. The cookies received rave reviews; “even better than Oreos.” These are a yummy treat when served with a cold glass of milk, organic of course! Here is the recipe that I created:

· 1 (18 oounce) package chocolate cake mix
· 2 eggs
· 2-3 tablespoons water (first add 2 tablespoons water, if mixture is too dry, add the 3rd.)
· 2 tablespoons oil (I used canola.)
· ½ cup cocoa

Blend the cake mix, eggs, water, oil and cocoa. Form the dough into a ball and let stand for 20 minutes. Roll the dough into ½ inch balls. Grease the bottom of a smooth-bottom drinking glass. Dip the glass into the cocoa and flatten a ball with the glass bottom. Dip the glass into the cocoa before flattening each dough ball. Place the cookies on a parchment cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove cookies immediately. Flatten any that have puffed with a spatula. (None of mine did, though). Let the cookies cool for about 20 minutes before frosting.

Crème Center:
· 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
· ¼ cup butter
· 1 tablespoon vanilla
· 4-6 cups sifted powdered sugar

Blend all of the crème ingredients together until smooth. If the crème is too soft, add the additional cups of sugar one cup at a time. Frost the bottom of a cookie and add another cookie on top. Viola! Enjoy!

Dec 12, 2007

Christmas Gift Tags

I just finished an assortment of Christmas gift cards. I started these several weeks ago at my "Ladies Activity Club" with Maria at MamaPlum and Yolanda at Perfecting Imperfectness. The paper is from a PaperSource Scrap Bag. A PaperSource boutique opened in Santana Row, not far from my parents house in San Jose, California. Everytime I visit, I sneak out for an hour browsing all the beautiful paper and inspiring ideas. The waxed twine from Martha Stewart's old catalog. I bought the twine ages ago. It is great to work with - if anyone knows of a source, please let me know!

Face Cupcakes

I just had to share the lovely sand cupcakes that Malena baked outside this past weekend. Our hillside backyard is scattered with oak trees, which provided the necessary cupcake embellishments!

Nov 28, 2007

Fun Holiday Gift Guide

Cool Mom Picks Holiday Guide

I had plans to create a holiday gift guide with my favorite products for children. Fortunately, one of my favorite sites, CoolMomPicks already did the hard work for me! Their categories are a hoot (yet, totally useful); from “for the kid who’s starting to play with the coffee table and chopsticks” to “For Your Friend's Fashionista Tween Who You Have No Idea How To Shop For.”

And if you are just searching for great children’s toys, CoolMomPicks already did that one too.

Safer Toy Guide 2007

Thanks to the fabulous moms at CoolMomPicks.

Nov 25, 2007

Thankful for the Beach

As luck would have it, our Thanksgiving tradition is for my entire family to meet in Cayucos, California to celebrate for a few days. Cayucos is on the central coast, near San Luis Obispo and an easy meeting point for our families scattered across Northern and Southern California.

Here are a few photos of how we spent our Thanksgiving Vacation… flying kites with Papa (Grandpa), collecting shells with Vava (Grandma), drawing in the sand, building fairy houses out of beach treasures and best of all, going for long walks along the ocean with Papi (Diego).  

Nov 19, 2007

MomMade Play Dough

This week we made play dough – a favorite activity for my children. Our best recipe is the one that my Mom used to make play dough for my brother and I when we were little kids.

Making your own play dough is a simple “cooking” activity to do with your children. Then they have a nice fresh batch of play dough for creative play. Another bonus of play dough is that it smells nicer (you can even add aromas to your recipe) and all the ingredients can be found in your pantry. Play dough will stay fresh if you keep it in an airtight container. I also keep mine in the fridge. It is also fun to add glitter for sparkly play dough.

:: Mom’s Best Play Dough Recipe ::
  • 1 cup flour
  •  ½ cup salt
  • 3 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup water
  • Food coloring – number of drops as your prefer
Put all the ingredients in a pan and mix with a wooden spoon over medium heat until it forms a ball. Viola… you’re ready for a play dough playdate with you kiddies!

Oh, the tools in this picture are a Melissa and Doug Modeling Clay Tool Set.

A Walk in Fall

On Sunday, we went hiking and mountain biking at New Melones Reservoir. This is Diego’s favorite local mountain biking spot. He drives there every weekend for his weekly mountain bike ride. Occasionally, the kids and I will accompany him and take a little walk/hike on a quiet trail near the lake. It was a beautiful California Fall day – sunny, a little crisp, a few leaves changing color, tons of acorns on the ground and a sparkly lake (extremely low – we need rain!).

We started out with Lautaro in the jogging stroller, “bici stroller” as the Malena calls it, and Malena walking in front. At the end, after meeting Diego, I was holding Lautaro while he nursed resting on the handle bar of bici stroller. Malena was on Diego’s back as he slowly rode his mountain bike. OK, not the safest modes of transportation, but you do what you have to when the kids start whining and you’re a mile away from the parking lot.

Nov 16, 2007

A Waldorf Doll In The Making

Today, I received the supplies to make a beautiful Waldorf Doll for Lautaro. He loves Malena’s Baby Doreengee that I made for her third Christmas, so it is time for one for him. Baby Doreengee will have a little brother. Oh, Malena derived Baby Doreengee’s name from my Aunt Doreen.

I ordered the doll making supplies from Weir Dolls. For Malena’s doll, I ordered one of their kits with a pre-made doll head, pre-sewn body and crocheted cap for the hair base. I worried that if I did the doll completely from scratch, it would look a bit non-human. The Weir Doll kit is wonderful with simple, easy-to-follow instructions. All the items necessary to make a beautiful doll are included and packaged nicely. No machine sewing is required if you buy the kit and select the pre-sewn body. I like buying the pre-made head, because I questioned my ability to create a realistic-shaped head using only wool, cotton tubing and embroidery floss.

Making Malena’s doll, I quickly understood, why an already-made Waldorf doll is so expensive. It takes a lot of love and time! It is a simple, yet time-consuming process. It is such a wonderful feeling and experience to be able to make your child’s first doll. I know that this is a doll that my child will treasure forever and be able to give their children. I believe that all the love put into creating the doll shows in the doll’s personality.

I would rather my child have one special, high-quality doll than many plastic dolls. Many people complain about the price of wooden toys, Waldorf dolls or play silks. If you buy less, yet high quality toys it probably equates to the amount one would spend on plastic toys that break and need to be replaced. Not too mention one of my favorite reasons for fewer toys – less clutter. Plus, if a wooden stacking toy is left on the living room floor, it doesn’t look as obnoxious as a plastic Dora the Explorer plaything.

Oh, if you are feeling really brave and crafty, like my friend Maria at MamaPlum you can check out this blog entry about making dolls from scratch. Darling and inspiring!

Nov 13, 2007

Yummy Pannycakes

In honor of my Vovo, I have tweaked a few pancake recipes and created my favorite recipe for PANNYCAKES – as my Vovo (grandfather in Portuguese) used to say. These are traditional, American-style pancakes. I have another recipe that is a crepe-style pancake that merges a Dutch & Argentine recipe that I will post soon.

Here is the recipe. We love our pannycakes with real maple syrup (no worries about high fructose corn syrup), local honey or homemade jam. Let me know if you try the recipe and how it tasted.
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur's Flour or Gold Medal Harvest King)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Sift dry ingredients into bowl.
2. Make a well in center. In the well, pour liquid ingredients.
3. Mix well and cook on griddle until golden brown on both sides.

Oct 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween. It is one of my favorite holidays, next to Valentine’s Day. I think it is because of all the fun decorating possibilities. So, one would think our house would be decked in ghosts and goblins. But, no, we just have pumpkins on the front deck. Inside we have mini pumpkins, gourds and these beautiful glass pumpkins. These are made by Tom Stanton at Holy City Art Glass in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Every year the Los Gatos High School has an art glass pumpkin patch fundraiser. Amazing pieces! It is unbelievable how many women are in line to buy their yearly glass pumpkin. Last year they raised $17,300 for the school to use as they wish! Quite impressive!

Here is the beginning stage of Malena’s costume. She wanted to be a “hugging witch.” The dress is made with a black satin. I made a cape and sash with glittery black fabric on one side and sheer purple with fuzzy scared cats on the reverse. The glittery fabric I found as a remnant at half price! I love pinning the pattern to fabric. The feeling of the tissue paper pattern tautly pinned to the fabric brings back memories of my childhood. My mom was always sewing dresses for me. She always made our Halloween costumes also. It is so much fun to make costumes for my own children.

Lautaro is going to be a spider, again. Since we didn’t get a good picture of him last year, I am going to try again this year. I will wear a white dress and white shirt embellished with black ribbon to look like a web. I hope to have a good picture to post!

Unfortunately, the kids are home sick today, so we don’t get to go on the preschool walk in our costumes. Plus, since we are so far out in the country, there is nowhere to trick-o-treat and we won’t have any Halloween visitors. It is all retirees and vacation homes in our neighborhood.

Oct 24, 2007

Recycled Sweaters

I am currently working on this piece to sell (I Hope, although, I don’t know if I can part with it!). In its former life it was a Brooks Brothers sweater that I could no longer wear (I hope because it shrank and not because I have had two children!).

So, I threw it in the washing machine in a pillowcase while doing a load of whites (I don’t want to waste water in my craftiness) to full it. Next, I took scissors to the shrunken sweater and reconstructed it into a bag. I embellished the bag with a needle-felted pattern that is my take on a cross-section of an egg. I found these vibrant orange purse handles at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco that I think will work perfectly. It took me months to find the right handles. When you spend so much time to make an item unique you must be willing to spend the time finding the right accoutrements for it, right? (Or maybe it is just a good excuse for my procrastination?)
Anyway, I am waiting for the weather to cool (Will it ever? I think it was 85 degrees today out here in the Sierra Foothills) and I can start felting again. I am not sure why, but felting seems like such a fall and winter craft. I have a bunch of felt beads that I am also trying to finish to add to jewelry and hairclip pieces. All summer long, I have had a pile of thrifted wool sweaters sitting in my laundry closet. Now, I can finally get to work and revamp these holey sweaters into purses. So, c’mon autumn weather – I am waiting!

Oct 18, 2007

What we are snacking on this week

... Beautiful organic pomegranates! A mom at my children’s parent coop preschool is selling these delicious pomegranates. When ripe, pomegranates open to a most beautiful shape. At least that is what I am guessing because they were all open and I don’t see how you could cut the fruit this way. It is so fun for Malena and Lautaro (and me too!) to pick delicately each tiny pomegranate seed and experience an explosion of flavor when you pop it into your mouth.

Oct 13, 2007

I Heart Etsy

Here is a super-cool tee that I bought for my son, Lautaro on etsy from rockpaperscissorsart.

 It is so dificult to find a decent boy's shirt that doesn't advertise a licensed media character, a typical American sport or an ugly monster truck. Etsy seller miniblisscakes custom-designed London Double Decker bus tee for Lautaro and a sparkly purple mermaid for Malena. I plan on doing most of my Christmas shopping on Etsy this year. Soon, I will also start posting some of my handmade products on etsy, in addition to my website,

Quick Catch-Up

So, I am going to make a real attempt at keeping this blog current. Heck, maybe I can even get someone to read this thing…

Here is an updated list of my latest projects:

1. Minky Blanket – silk in an paisley pattern on one side (brought in Los Altos at Thai Silks and purple super-soft minky from Minky Delight). Both pieces were short ends, so I got a bargain! Minky is difficult to sew with though… I have read complaints about people being covered in fabric fluff while sewing, but that isn’t my case. The minky from Minky Delight, doesn’t seem to shred much. However, I can’t keep the two pieces evenly together. The minky streches so much, even though I pin a lot, by time I get to the next pin, the minky is bunched up. I would love any tips on sewing with Minky.

2. Malena's 4th Birthday Cake - Malena wanted a mermaid theme for her 4th birthday. I was this close to making a cake with a fondant mermaid on top. But then the reality hit that I only had a few hours in the middle of the night to decorate the cake. Thank Goodness! I made a two-layer cinnamon cake with cinnamon buttercream, at her request. I decorated with lime green fondant and handmade white chocolate shells. She loved the cake.

3. Mermaid Quilt – Based upon a Cuddly Quilt Kit from JoAnns. However, the original instructions were basically a patchwork blanket. That would have been fine, but I had to take in one step further and make it into a REAL quilt. I added a natural cotton batting, hand-quilted stars and a batik binding (which I made in the proper quilting technique). I bought those materials from Siri’s, who actually lives less than a mile away from me. I am lucky and can drive over to her house and browse her garage-turned-warehouse-store for fabric and notions. What a find out here in the foothills. I never would have finished the quilt in time for Malena’s 4th birthday. Oh, due to a cutting mistake, I had to replace some of the plush turquoise fabric for the center border. I found the perfect bright pink minky dot at Minky Delight as short end. I think the quilt turned out well for my first one. Although, I am not sure I am a quilter at heart. It takes considerable amounts of patience, mathematical skill, precision and dedication. I wish I could have all of those qualities! I don’t know how my Vava has made so many beautiful quilts. I can truly appreciate her work now!

4. Sundress for Malena – It is so much fun to sew for a little girl. So many patterns out there for cute little dresses and accessories. This summer, I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to sew a sundress. I even tried making a version for myself. I won’t post the results of that project. Let’s say, I am just going to stick with clothing for littles for now.

5. Smock– This was a quick and easy project. The pattern instructions were very clear. It provided a great introduction on sewing with seam binding and had useful tips to improve the process.