Sunday, April 29, 2012

RECIPE: Carrot Cupcakes with Caramael Cream Cheese Frosting

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 On Saturday night our friends invited us over for a bbq at their ranch.  I forget sometimes that we live in the same city, since we're in the cookie cutter suburbs.  But their 5 arces of farmland is every kid's dream-- goats, chickens, horses, a huge treehouse, trampoline, land to explore, and plenty of pigs to chase.  Yes, Lucy and Owen had a ball chasing those squealing pigs around the pen and I'm kicking myself for not snapping a photo.  It was hilarious.

So our contribution to the bbq was my anytime favorite: Carrot Cupcakes.
I used the same yummy Carrot Cake recipe but with a couple modifications and an added twist on top: Caramel.
Makes appx 22-24 cupcakes

2 - 4 carrots (enough for 2 cups grated carrots)
1/4 cup oil*
1/4 cup smashed banana (about 1 banana)*
1 3/4 cups white sugar **
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup lowfat milk mixed with 2 tsp vinegar)
* the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil but I decreased that to 1/4 cup oil and added a 1/4 cup smashed bananas.  And it turned out great.  I still loved the consistency, it was slightly more healthy,  and no one could even taste the banana.
**the original recipe calls for 2 cups sugar. I cut it back to 1 3/4 cups and it still tasted wonderful.
Heat the oven to 350ยบ
Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners

• Grate 2 - 4 carrots. Measure 2 cups of loosely-packed carrots (don't cram the carrots into the measuring cup) and set them aside.
• In a large bowl beat the oil, banana, sugar, eggs and vanilla together until light, about two minutes.
• In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.   Mix the flour mixture, buttermilk, and carrots into the oil/sugar mixture for about 2 minutes. 
• Scoop approximately 1/3 of the cupcake mix into each cupcake holder
• Bake for about 18 minutes at 350 degrees, until a toothpick comes out clean.
• Let the cupcakes cool on a rack while you prepare the frosting....

makes enough for 24 cupcakes or a layered cake

8 ounces Cream Cheese (Lite Cream Cheese or Neufchatel room temperature)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
5-6 cups powdered sugar
• Cream together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla.   
• Add the powdered sugar and enough milk to make a creamy, spreadable frosting.  
• Place the frosting in a piping bag or make your own by spooning frosting into a ziplock bag and cutting a small hole on the corner of the bag (do not seal the top of the ziplock bag).  
• Pipe the frosting onto each cupcake.
• Then....(nothing fancy here), drizzle each cupcake with a bit of cold pre-made caramel (I used Smuckers).
• refridgerate the cupcakes till ready to eat.
And, Yum.
They get a little messy but it sort of adds to the charm.
 After burgers and hotdogs, we pulled a whole pile of cupcakes out of the fridge for the masses to enjoy.
Then it was time to take June for a ride.
Cupcakes, horse rides, sunsets, and good conversation.
That's my kind of an evening.

Friday, April 27, 2012

the reason I haven't been sewing...

is that I've been busy sewing.
What I mean to say is....
the reason I haven't been sharing many sewing projects on the blog is that I'm currently working on book #2.  Yay!  And, yay.  While the first book, Fabrics A to Z, is a wonderful resource guide this book is all project-based.  I'm totally excited about it.  And I'm totally exhausted too.

Book writing is a funny thing because it takes so long for the whole process to pan out.  This book doesn't out till August of 2013 but now is when I need to complete the 25 projects and photograph the how-to-steps as I sew.   By June I start working on the writing part and by October all the beauty shots, writing, and everything else is officially due.  I'm working on this book as both the writer/creator and photographer, which is really cool and creatively exciting.  But it's running me thin.

If you peek into my current's 95% absorbed with these projects and photography.  It's what I think about, stew over, work on when the kids are at school and Clara is sleeping, and think about more when they go to bed.  It's hard to turn the thoughts off at night.  I'm constantly rethinking and second-guessing....only because I want the book to be the best it can be.  Do all the colors and fabrics in the book work together?  Are the photographs well lit?  Sharp enough?  Do the pattern sizes fit?  Should I make another version of that project so people have options?  Have I created too many options for the project and people will feel overwhelmed? And really?  Really? Am I running to Joanns one. more. time?  

This is my current state of being.
 Creatively saturated.

And yet, I have no sewing projects to show for it, yet.
So until to June comes around (and hopefully I've stayed on schedule.  My editor hopes that too) the blog may be less about the tutorials and more about the simple crafts, recipes, and of I'm sure you won't mind that.

So today, if you're looking for a little sewing inspiration, I turn to Elsie Marley
Her Kids Clothes Week Challenge is bursting with cool things.  Seriously.  I can't believe the stuff you guys are making!  Here are 9 favorites:

And since many of you have emailed and left comments about this, just one more tidbit to share....
We made it in Family Fun Magazine!  
Check out Lucy's doily heart shirt (a variation on their adoily-able t-shirt)
I showed Lucy the page and I'm not sure she realized that her picture was in a magazine that total strangers could purchase (rather than a photo book we have at home with family photos, etc).  She thought it was pretty fun though.   What kid doesn't like seeing photos of themselves?   And it's been fun for me to hear from you guys about it.  Even Lucy's little cousin in Arizona was flipping through the magazine and said, "Mom, is that Lucy?"
So thanks Family Fun magazine for making our week!

Okay, have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I guess I was getting bored of the plain dyed onesies.
So 10 minutes before heading to the park yesterday, I did this:
I know what you're probably thinking....can this girl do anything besides dyed onesies and freezer paper stenciling?  I promise I can.  But truly, my babies live in comfortable clothing and simple styles for the first year of life.  So a 10 minute project is how we roll. 

You know the drill...
And always "Press" afterward to heat-set the paint.

Of course the secret to making it a 10 min project is the blow dryer.  I'm such an antsy pants these days that a blow dryer is the only way I do paint projects.   I just can't wait to peel back the paper and see the new design! 
I heart hearts.
and big stuffed Rollie Pollies.
and chunky leg rolls.
For more heart inspiration, check out Delia's new blanket.  Isn't her Natalie just the cutest little thing?!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

GIVEAWAY DAY--make it sew modern BOOK

I know you guys love sewing books, so I've got one last giveaway today...
It's Vanessa Christenson's new book make is sew modern!
If you follow V and Co. then you know Vanessa is full of cool home decor, quilting, and beautiful, fun ideas. Just check out her pattern shop for a taste.

Her book is the filled with the same clean, fresh flavor. But the interesting twist is that it's broken down into different techniques for manipulating fabric. There's a section on ruffles, one on gathering, twisting, pleating, etc.
And the photos are gorgeous! I want to jump into the photos and sit on that white chair.
These fabric globes would be fun for any party, wedding, or a kids bedroom:
This doily quilt is so sweet.
And there are a few clothing projects too.
My copy has a fun note from Vanessa inside. Yay!
And we've got a copy of make it sew modern for one of you too (with your own note from Vanessa).
Giveaway Rules:

• Leave a comment, that's it!
• Only ONE entry per person
• Open to US and Canadian readers
• ONE winner will be picked via
• Giveaway ends, Saturday 4/21/12 at 10pm (Central Time).
Winner will be announced Sunday or Monday.

Thanks for playing along with Giveaway Day.
All the winners will be announced on Sunday!
Ever wanted to take a sewing class?
No matter what your skill level, it's fun to do!

But it can definitely feel overwhelming trying to figure out where to take one, if it's going to be what you want, who's going to watch the kids when you go, blah, blah, blah.

Enter Whipstitch and their online e-Courses.
If you follow Deborah's blog (or if you've read her book), you know that her sewing knowledge and skills are crazy huge. But that's not the kicker here. Deborah is hilarious and has a wonderful writing style. I love, love, love reading her instructions because it's like she's sitting there next to you, like old friends, showing you the ropes.

Whipstitch is offering a new e-course that starts on MONDAY called: Sewing for Your Home.
And there are still spots available!

The e-Course features table settings, pillows, duvets, bed skirts, window coverings, slip covers, all kinds of home dec projects. It spans over five weeks, like their other courses, but this time there's a downloadable PDF for every project so you can work at your own pace (i.e.---if you don't need to make a bed skirt or a duvet right now, you can watch the video and print the lesson to create a workbook for yourself to reference later, when you DO need to make one of these projects).

Want to make cool stuff like this?....
Today Whipstitch is offering a free course to one lucky winner!

Giveaway Rules:
• Leave a comment, that's it!
• Only ONE entry per person
• Open to ALL Readers
• ONE winner will be picked via
• Giveaway ends, Saturday 4/21/12 at 10pm (Central Time).
Winner will be announced Sunday or Monday.

Good luck and come back later for more free stuff.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Celebrate BABY---TUTORIAL and PATTERN: little baby circle skirt

Clara and I found a pleasant surprise at Joanns the other day....
They now carry colored elastic! a select few colors, only available in the store (not online), and only in 1-inch wide elastic.
I'd been wanting to make Clara some skirts, so it was perfect for this:
I know I say it a lot but these are so. easy. to make. And they take such a small amount of fabric that you can't resist sewing a whole stack of them! Then throw a circle skirt over a dyed onesie and you have a simple girly outfit. Clara's first time at church was in the outfit above.

You're familiar with the standard Circle Skirt Tutorial HERE.
But to save everyone time, I created a new download/printable baby skirt pattern HERE.
The pattern is 1/4 of a full circle and fits on a standard size paper. Easy, right?
Print and cut out the pattern piece and let's get started.
You can follow the full instructions in the circle skirt tutorial.
Or, here's the short version:
You end up with a fabric circle:
And you're done!
Then just give in to that sewing itch to make more, more and more...and you'll have plenty to give away as gifts! I sent baby circle skirts to a few friends and here's Delia's sweet baby Natalie wearing the seersucker version. Love that little bum:
She fit right in with the family's Easter ensemble (such cute photos)

Friday, April 13, 2012

skylights, series, Sees and stuff

Did you know neither of my older kids can say "S" properly?
It comes out quite nasaly and sounds more French than English.
They'd have a horrible time with this blog post title.
We're working on it.

And all day yesterday our internet was not working.
So today I'm sharing "stuff". Here are bits and pieces.....

• I'm judging three fun series right now:
Project Run and Play - Last week the Designers did a pattern remix on my Circle Skirt tutorial and I just love ISLY's circle TOP. Cute idea! And cute photo.

Spring Top Sewalong on Made by Rae is in its 3rd week and it's hard to narrow down only 5 favorites. If you haven't submitted a top, it's not too late to enter!

The Handmade Olympics at rik rak studio is open for voting! From a list of 35 nominees, I picked my top 10 "blogs with a handmade focus". So hop over to vote in all categories and see what the other judges like Design Mom and Sweet Paul picked as their top 10.

• Some of you asked about the Easter Egg photos of did I get her to stay still for all those outfit changes? Please don't think either of us have super human patience. I actually took the photos on 9 different days (I put her in a new onesie each morning and when she went down for her a nap, I snapped a pic).

• Some of you mentioned that the Deep Pockets pattern download wasn't working. Sorry about that. FIXED.

• Two things arrived in the mail on Friday:
I hope the mailman saw the humor as well.
In case you're wondering which I read first?
Here's a clue.

• I finally talked Casey into joining Pinterest, mostly so he and I could pin photos of our dream house. We have two short lists of "must haves" and "would be nice" (if we ever built our own home). On the list of MUSTS: lots of trims, moldings, natural light, and a skylight or two?.....
(archway and paintchipsbright room skylight in kitchendream home exterior)

• I need a new show. Any recommends?
Cranford is no replacement for Downton Abbey. September can't come soon enough, in that respect. In other respects.....

• Our town is exploding, literally exploding with butterflies! It's so cool. They're like houseflies these days. Of course I don't feel like swatting them. But I do feel like doing this again:
Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2 months

We hit a little milestone this week.
Our little girl is growing bigger, stronger, and still has a full head of hair....which I'm kind of shocked by. But there's definitely blond coming in underneath.
Then her hair will be opposite of mine: light roots; dark ends.
Her eyes are looking more blue and less gray.
She's awake for longer stretches during the day and sleeps great at night.
She has major fussy periods in the evenings that drive me insane (something I'd forgotten about with newborns and can't wait to move past).
But when she's in a good mood she coos and smiles.
And we sort of forget what she was squawking about.
Oh little Clara.
You've got a lot of life ahead of you.
and thus, the photo montage begins....