Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 of 2010

2010 is coming to a close, and so it's the perfect time to look back and reflect on what's happened during the last trip around the sun. 

I have learned so much along the way - my photos even with a point and shoot have improved tremendously by soaking up all the great information and tricks being shared by other bloggers.  I switched my blog from Wordpress to Blogger so I could have followers via Google Friend Connect and as of publication of this post, I now have 7 lovely ladies following A Jennuine Life - thanks girls (I do a little happy dance whenever I get a new follower)!!

Everyone seems to be doing Top 10 of 2010 lists, and I want to be one of the cool kids, so here's my top 10.  I probably should do top 3 1/3 since I only started A Jennuine Life in September, but I have actually had ten posts with a lot of traffic, so here goes:

10.  12 Days of Christmas Tree Skirt


9.  Refinished ReStore Chairs


8.  Chef Arden


7.  Fall Fashion - Corduroy Jumper


6.  Christmas Card Garland


5.  Jeans to Toddler Skirt Refashion


4.  Stay-put Toddler Bedding


3.  Candy Corn Pinafore - and my first feature!


2.  DIY Play Kitchen


And number 1!  Arden's Nursery Peg Rail

 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Runner

Here's a quickie table runner quilt I made for my Mom from the remnants of my 12 Days of Christmas tree skirt, plus a few more strips from the Moda jelly roll:


Remember the tree skirt?


After cutting my triangles, I was left with some pretty good-sized strips that I thought would be just right to piece together for a runner.  My Mom likes to put runners on her kitchen island, so this is about the perfect size for that.  I've made her a quilted runner in the past from quilt leftovers; I hope she sees it as putting things to a good use rather than getting the dredges of my projects!

I only used the patchwork stitch in red around the border, since I thought it would be a little too busy to do on all the strips.  The rest I stitched a straight stitch in the ditch with an off-white thread.  My parents live in Florida and aren't into wintery decor, so I tried to use the lighter colors for the border and binding.  I think it turned out nice!


I'll be linking up to parties in my linky party directory and to:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Meet Nina!

My husband is not one of those men who pays close attention to determines the exact right gift to surprise his lovely wife with for birthdays and Christmases.  So he asks what I want, I tell him and he usually gets it and acts like it's a big surprise.  Not so bad when you ask for and receive a serger for Christmas!


Meet Nina!  For those of you who haven't been following, I named my Janome Memorycraft 8700 Jane, so I thought Nina seemed appropriate for my new Bernina 8700DL serger.  Original, right?  Right out of the box I'm in love!  LOVE!  I changed threads, and even figured out how to get one of the loopers re-threaded with a little help from the manual.  I've already serged two different projects.  It's so fast!

And in case you were wondering, I got him a 10" Ryobi table saw for his "man cave" (garage loft), so I think we made out even-Steven on the gift exchange this year!  We won't get into the fact that I'll likely use "his" table saw pretty regularly and it's quite unlikely he and Mimi will becoming more than just passing acquaintances.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Tree Skirt

Jelly roll quilted tree skirt

I had grand intentions of getting a nice new artificial tree this year, but I didn't get myself into gear in time.  So, I brought up the little pre-lit one my Mom had given us years ago, and set it on a little table that she had used as a little girl to keep it out of toddler/cats/dogs reach.  It ended up looking quite cute, but I needed a tree skirt.  Oooh!  An opportunity to get some yummy fabric!  I decided on a Moda jelly roll - Kate Spain's 12 Days of Christmas - super cute and lots of fun colors!
12 Days of Christmas Jelly Roll Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics

I more or less winged the design - since I was working with 2 1/2" strips, I figured a hexagon would work out best.  Here's a quickie tute on what I did:
  1. Making sure to use strips without a directional design, piece two sets of seven strips together and then use the 60 degree angle on a quilt ruler against the bottom or top edge to end up with six triangular pieces.  This was for a pretty small tree/table, so you'll have to adjust if you're making a larger tree skirt.
  2. Piece the six triangles together, leaving one edge unattached as the opening.
  3. Layer backing (a leftover piece of twill from Arden's halloween chef costume), batting (stash), and the quilt top.
  4. Pin.
  5. Quilt.  I used a patchwork stitch with red thread and stitched in the ditch.  You could freehand quilt this, or use a straight stitch to stitch in the ditch.
  6. For binding, attach enough strips together to go around all the edges.  Iron in half lengthwise with wrong sides together.  With raw edges meeting on the pieced side of the quilt, stitch all the way around.
  7. Trim all the excess batting and backing.
  8. Turn binding to the backside, and stitch with a hidden stitch.  I normally machine my bindings, but on small projects, I like the nicer look of a hand-sewn binding.  This one especially with all the angles was a better candidate for hand-sewing.
Tada!

jelly roll quilted christmas tree skirt

jelly roll christmas tree skirt

Since this was a jelly roll, I still have quite a bit of fabric left over with some other projects in mind.  I used the scraps of this for one project, and I'm thinking some pillows would be cute.


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Linking to parties in my linky party directory, and to:

Monday, December 27, 2010

Project Toddler Runway - I made the Top 10!



Thanks for all your votes!  I made the top ten of Shwin&Shwin's Project Toddler Runway!  I was notified with a lovely welcome letter from the Shwins.  They will be posting introductions for all the top ten "designers" (not sure if I'm qualified for that title, but what they hey!) in the first part of January, and the first challenge will begin the week of January 3rd.  Now the real fun begins!  Wish me luck, I'm gonna need it - have you seen the competition?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Baking - Stamped Shortbread Cookies


Super simple - only three ingredients, but they combine into pure bliss!  It's hard to get a clear picture of the image, but above are santa and bells and holly stamped shortbread cookies.  These are made with Ryecraft cookie stamps, but you could make them using anything that would leave a nice impression on the cookies - a cut glass design would be really pretty!

Stamped Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 C butter
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 3 C flour

Directions
 Preheat oven to 300 F.  Cream butter and sugar thoroughly - this is important as the dough can flake off when stamping if not mixed well.  Add flour one cup at a time.  Mix this well.  Roll into 1" balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Stamp with cookie stamp dipped in sugar.  Bake at 300 F for 15-20 minutes.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Baking - Petite Cheesecakes


These were my Mom's submission to her craft group cookie exchange, so every year she would make something like eight batches of these and package them up.  All the husbands would anxiously await their wives' return to snag the little cheesecakes before their kids tore into all the cookies.  Once the annual cookie exchanges were no more my Mom said "never again" to making these little gems, so I'm reviving them this year to make for my Dad's Christmas gift.  They're not bad to make, but I wouldn't want to make eight batches of them...

Petite Cheesecakes

Ingredients
  • cupcake liners
  • vanilla wafers
  • 2 8oz. packages cream cheese
  • 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 can cherry pie filling

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  Place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each.  Beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full with cream cheese mixture.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, or until set.  Top each cake with a spoonfull of pie filling.  Chill until served.

I made these in reusable silicone cupcake liners, since the vanilla wafers fit in the bottom so nicely and I thought they were pretty!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Baking - Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls


I got the recipe for these from a supervisor when I was a college co-op.  I've made them nearly every year since.  I love keeping them in a tin in the garage so they're a little chilled - yum, yum!  They're similar to buckeyes, but I think there's enough difference to warrant a different name.  As an aside, we had a family friend who made buckeyes each year, but she would say "oh, screw it!" and make them enourmous so she wouldn't have to make as many.  I sort of get that, but these don't form well if they get tooo big.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients
  • 1 stick margerine, melted
  • 3 C powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 3/4 C peanut butter (can be chunky or smooth - I use chunky)
  • 3 C Rice Crispies
  • 2 C (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 bar parrafin

Directions

Mix first four ingredients together and roll into 1 1/2" balls.  Melt chocolate and parafin together over low heat.  Using a toothpick, dip balls into chocolate and drop onto waxed paper.  Use leftover chocolate to dribble over holes left by toothpicks.  Best served chilled.  Makes about 60 balls.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Baking - Chocolate Mint Cookies

Each year for Christmas, I have several go-to cookies that MUST be made.  I'll share them for you - maybe they'll become one of your holiday regulars!


These chocolate mint cookies are my absolute favorite cookie in the whole world - chocolate plus Andes mint = yummie!!!!  I started baking these when I was in high school.  Let's not get into how long ago that may or may not have been -we'll just leave it at I was NOT a millenia graduate by any stretch of the imagination.  This year I was pretty excited because now you can get Andes mints in bags of chips, but that turned out to be a bit of a double-edged sword.  The litle chips wouldn't stay on top very well, so I had to sort of dent the tops of all the cookies to get them to stay.  I'll go back to the wafers next time, plus they make prettier cookies if you can find the green ones - where the outside layers are green and only the middle is chocolate.

Chocolate Mint Cookies

Ingredients
  • 3/4 C butter or margerine (butter will make a crispy cookie, margerine will make a yummy, chewy cookie - guess which one I use!)
  • 1 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 2 T water
  • 2 C (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 boxes green Andes mint wafers or 1 bag of Ande's chips (unwrap and break in half before baking if using wafers - good job for the hubs to do!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 1 1/4 t baking soda

Directions

In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter/margerine, brown sugar and water.  Add chocolate chips; stir until melted.  Place in a mixing bowl and let stand 10 minutes to cool.  Mix at high speed, adding 1 egg at a time.  Reduce speed and add dry ingredients, beating until blended.  Chill 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line cookie sheets with foil.  Roll teaspoon (or so) of dough into balls and place 2" apart.  Bake at 350 for 10-11 minutes.  Remove from oven and place 1/2 mint (or 1/2 t of chips) on top.  Allow to melt and swirl using a chospstick or something similar.  Makes 80 cookies.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Little Too Quiet...

So I was quickly checking out the projects on Shwin & Shwin's Project Toddler Runway - I'm in the top 15 and hoping to make it to the top ten!  Suddenly I realized that things in the next room were quiet.  A little too quiet.


Arden had gotten hold of my in-process scarflette project, taken out the needle and was dragging the yarn about.  After my initial panic I realized she had probably only pulled out a row or two - phew!  I was able to pick up the stitches and wind up the strewn yarn.  I really should know better than to try to work on the computer while she's awake, but it's just so tempting to check on the Project Toddler Runway voting progress - hint, hint!

Project Toddler Runway - Voting for Top 10



Please go and vote for my blue dress project at Schwin&Schwin! I took a shirt of mine that I loved but didn't fit me anymore and made a dress for Arden. If I make the top 10, I'll compete in weekly challenges Project Runway style and the finalists will make a three look collection.

Please take 10 seconds and go vote for me!  I'll be forever indebted!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Project Toddler Runway - I Made the Top 15!



Schwin & Schwin are hosting Project Toddler Runway.  On December 16th they will present the ones that made top 15, and voting will open to narrow the top 15 down to the top 10.   For the top 10, each week there will be a new challenge presented on Monday.  Projects will be posted on Friday and the voting of each challenge will happen over the weekend.  In the final week as per project runway the final three will make a mini collection (3 coordinating looks) and the one with the most votes wins.

I'll post a link here tomorrow to voting for the top 15 - please vote for my project!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas


Dave, being from Idaho, has received various Mr. Potato Heads as gifts over the years.  Arden has recently become fascinated with them, and has become proficient in moving all the parts around.  Most of the potatoes are themed, and Santa Spud comes with a little beard that she's figured out how to put on herself - hilarious!


We also finally have the tree up, and since this photo was taken - decorated.  Arden is enthralled by the lights and proclaims "tree!" every time we go into the living room.

It's starting to feel like Christmas around here - are you ready?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow!

We're getting quite a bit of fluffy wet snow here in Michigan, so we bundled up Arden for her first foray into a winter wonderland!


The images from A Christmas Story where the kids are so bundled up they can't move their arms keep running through my head.


We made our first snow angel (with a bit of help from Mom), and she seemed to like it except for the snow falling into her eyes while I snapped a couple of pictures.



We also made our first snow man.  She really seemed to like this and we decorated him with pinecones and the remains of a dog frisbee from the yard.

Is it snowing where you are? 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Refinished ReStore Chairs


I made the final push and got the chairs I purchased for $100 from the ReStore refinished!  I think they turned out really great, and I learned a bit along the way.  Here's what I did:

I took the ucky bad vinyl seats off and gave all the chairs a light sanding all over with a power mouse sander.
I used Rust-Oleun Ultra Cover primer, and then gave them two light coats of Rust-Oleum heirloom white.  I really like how this white looks - very light and creamy, not at all stark.


Then I used Minwax jacobean stain to shabbify them a bit.  Here's where the learning came into play - it's a lot easier to apply the stain and wipe it off with the look I was going for if I misted the working surface with a light spray of water.  Our "bad doggie" sprayer worked perfectly for this, and a put it to a much more pleasant use.

The last steps on the refinishing were two coats of Minwax wipe-on polyurethane with a light rubbing of steel wool in between.


The seat bottoms were cracked and couldn't be recovered, so I bought some 5/8" plywood and used one of the old seats as a template to cut four new ones.

I used 1" foam from JoAnn's, some cotton batting from my quilting stash and my home decor fabric also purchased at JoAnn's to recover them.  I used kitchen shears to cut the foam to the same shape as the seat.  Then I made a little seat sandwich with the fabric right-side down, then the batting, foam, and lastly the chair bottom.  I wrapped the fabric around to the back of the bottom and used a staple gun to secure it all around the edges.  I found it worked best to sort of smush the seat bottom down at an angle to get the fabric tight the way I wanted it.  I cut off all the extra fabric and batting and hammered in any loose staples.



Much prettier than sticky tan vinyl!  They don't look as puckery in person - the light is coming in from the side for this photo. 

All that was left was to attach my seats to the chairs.  I used the original screws from the seats and screwed them into the plywood bottoms.  I found I didn't need to pre-drill holes for them, the screws bit into the plywood quite easily.

So nice, and only about $150 for four new chairs!  I'm loving how they lighten up our dining room with their creamy white and pretty green.




I'll be linking up to DIY and other parties listed in my linky party directory.  Thanks for stopping by!

Furniture Feature Fridays

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Coat for Sophie

We live in Michigan and our labs have very tight coats.  Laser especially is a weenie about being cold.  He does this funny little speed-walk to try to get home faster whenever it's below 35 degrees.  Sophie, being the scrappy rescue dog she is manages better, but I thought it was time she got a doggie coat like Laser.  Remember the princess hat I made for her out of some stash tafetta?  I had a ton left after that project, so I decided to make Sophie a coat during Arden's super-duper nap on Friday.


I used Laser's purchased coat as a pattern, but it would be pretty easy to make one yourself using measurements from your favorite furry friend!  The main coat is sort of a "U" shape with a fat bottom, and then I just made a sash to go around and hold everything in place.  I used two pieces of velcro on the neck and body closures, and tacked the sash in place on the top and sides to keep everything secure.  The coat and the sash are lined with orange fleece, also left over from the long-ago project.  Now Sophie is warm and cozy (and pretty too!) in her new coat!

I'll be linking up to the parties in my directory, and here:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Free Mantel Decor

I was loving the use of shutters on mantels I saw here and somewhere else and was plotting a trip to my local ReStore when my gaze fell apon the detritus of our fencing/tree removal/garage reconstruction projects in the back yard and eyed up the old wooden fence gate.  Aha!  It's about the right size (check), weathered (check), and FREE! (double check!).  All I had to do was drag it inside, take of the remnants of hardware still clinging on and prop it up.  It almost makes my wimpy Christmas card garland work.  Almost.  Gotta get on that...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Doh!


I knew it was going to be close, but I really thought I might just be able to eek out the hat I'm making (for me!) out of the same wool cashmere blend I used to make the upside-down daisy hat for Arden.  No such luck.  Right when I was about to begin the decrease, I'm left with this pathetic tail.  No luck at my local yarn shops, so I've ordered one skein of this discontinued color.  Maybe I can scrape out a scarflette from the rest after I finish the last six or seven rounds, or would that be tempting fate?  One happy result of visiting the fabo yarn shop less than a mile from my house was they were able to quickly diagnose the reason for my wonky knitting.  Looks like someone didn't knit for a year and started knitting into the back of the stitch.  And I was bringing the yarn around in the wrong direction for purl stitches.  Wow!  Not exactly like riding a bike, now is it?  The hard part is that I need to finish this project "wrong" before I re-teach myself to knit "right" again.
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