Monday, July 31, 2017

Dinosaur Themed Food for a Dinosaur Birthday Party

Rowdy is now 18 months old.  Can you believe it?  I am still playing catch up when it comes to blog posts because, well, I'm home full time with an 18 month old.  It is hard to find the time to set down and write when Rowdy wants to sit in my lap, read books, or open and close Lego suitcases for 30 minutes straight.  In the Fall Rowdy will start preschool with Lucky so I should have some time to dedicate to writing and filming again.  Nevertheless, I'm happy to finally share some of the fun Dinosaur themed foods I created for Rowdy's first birthday party.

Fossil Cookies

I thought it would be fun to take sugar cookies up a notch and make some fossil cookies.  After a lot of experimentation, I settled on the following technique:

  1. Make sugar cookie dough according to the package directions for shaped cookies (or use your favorite recipe from scratch)
  2. Roll the dough out
  3. Have a blast with your toddler making footprints on the dough and pressing imprints of the dinosaurs.

  4. Cut the dough into cookie sized pieces with a knife.  I tried to to irregular shapes so it would look like cracks.
  5. Bake according to your recipe directions.

If you want to make an imprint of the side of a dinosaur, make sure that you press it into the dough REALLY hard so it will show up after baking.

I spent a lot of time looking for dinosaur figurines that had different foot shapes, and then Lucky was gifted a Terra Container of Mini Dinosaurs for Christmas.  These were the perfect scale to fit many different footprint shapes into the dough.

Candy Dinosaur Nests

I love making chocolate covered crunchy snacks for parties.  Chocolate covered chow mein noodles have become spiders and crabs, chocolate covered pretzels have turned into pumpkins, so why not do something similar to make little dinosaur nests?  I happened to have a huge box of Rice Krispies on hand so I decided to mix these with some melted chocolate chips to create Dinosaur nests.  Ultimately I decided to add marshmallows the mix and create some Chocolate Rice Krispies Treats for the nests.  First, I used  my dinosaur candy mold and colored candy wafers to create some dinosaur shaped candy to sit on the nests.

I microwaved the wafers in a ziplock bag in 30 second increments until it was melted.  I mixed the colors together with my hands and then clipped off a corner to fill the molds.  I mixed yellow and dark green candy wafers to get a gradient of green dinos.  For the middle green I used a ratio of 7 green: 3 yellow.  I found that 40 melted wafers filled 9 of the dinosaur shapes.  For the yellow-green, I used 38 yellow and 12 green dinosaurs.  For the deepest green I used only dark green wafers.

I made the chocolate Rice Krispies Treats and then added balls to a greased muffin tin.  I made sure there was an indentation in the center to form a little cup for the "nest."   Then I added my candy dinosaurs to the center of each nest while they were still warm.  

The dinosaur candy melted just a little bit.  Not enough for the dinosaurs to lose their shape but enough to secure them to their chocolate nests.  These were DELICIOUS and super cute.

Baked Dinosaur Tortilla Chips

I've made my own pita chips before, but I've never tried to make my own tortilla chips. When I found this idea on Pinterest I knew it was a fun project that I could make in advance for Rowdy's party.  I used a Dinosaur sandwich cookie cutter to cut dinosaurs out of some Spinach, Garlic and pesto tortillas. Since I didn't have an oil spritzer, I brushed some olive oil on top of the cutouts and sprinkled them with coarse salt.  I baked the chips at 275 degrees F for 15 minutes.

I hand cut some triangles out of the excess tortillas.  I knew that I would want some small triangles to use to make some dinosaur dip!

There were a lot of extra pieces after cutting out the dinosaurs.  I turned these into chips, too and the boys had them as a crunchy, tasty snack.

Guacasaurus and Hummusaurus

I wish I could take credit for the Guacasaurus and Hummusaurus, but I found the inspiration for these fun dips in a blog post from a 4 year old's dinosaur birthday party.  This was also the inspiration for Rowdy's cake.)  

I used some of the triangle tortilla chips that I made above to create the spines and horns of these fun little creatures.  I forgot to get sour cream so I used some plain Greek yogurt to help make the eyes.  

Dinosaur Cakes

When Rowdy was an itty baby, I found that Wilton had some adorable dinosaur cupcake kits.  These came with legs and tails on the cupcake wrapper, edible sprinkle spines and the heads on toothpicks.

I made some funfetti cupcakes for these little dino cupcakes.  I was afraid that the legs and the tail wouldn't show up if I used chocolate.  

I think that if I were going to design these cupcakes myself, I might make a tail out of candy or something to make that more obvious.  After baking the cupcakes, the wrapper decorations were pretty subtle.

Triceratops Cake

I did a lot of research on my dinosaur party Pinterest page before settling on a cake design.  When I found this Triceratops cake tutorial I knew that it was something I could attempt to re-create myself.

I baked two round cakes plus an extra square cake in a Brownie pan.  Unlike the tutorial, I wanted to use cake for the dinosaur's crest on top of the head.  I cut the triangles such that the side attached to the head was from the edge of the pan.  This meant that the points were thicker and raised up a bit.  

I think it was really brilliant how the tail and the head are cut from one round cake.  (I forgot to take a picture of how they fit together.)  

Icing this cake was... hard.  I don't think I appreciated how hard it would be to frost cut pieces of cake without them falling apart.  I was able to "make it work" and I think that I ended up with a darling homemade cake for my little one.  

I didn't have a backup cake baked if this failed.  I think my backup would have been to quickly make a sheet cake and put my kid's name on it.  Look how cute this Triceratops came out, though!  

In addition to these fun dino themed foods I shared in this post, I turned a lot of other "normal" party foods into dinosaur foods.  I can't wait to show you the spread that I put out at the table!  

I just asked Lucky what kind of birthday party he wants this October.  Lucky has officially requested a Dinosaur themed birthday party, too!  We are gently suggesting other ideas, but I am happy that my kids have picked up my love for dinosaurs. We'll see if Lucky changes his mind as we get closer to October, but I might have to come back to these ideas.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links but I was not paid to feature any specific product.  All product selections and thoughts are my own.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Grape Shirt for Lucky

I own a watermelon dress.  One day while at Target, we bought Rowdy a pineapple romper.  Lucky, logically, requested that I create a grape shirt for him.  (Apparently Daddy is an orange and Indy is a strawberry, but let's start with the grapes for now.)

I looked up a bunch of DIY Grape shirts and found the perfect inspiration. These grapes were constructed out of felt but I loved the scale and shape of the fruit.  I also really liked some resist dyeing options to create the shirt, but Keith preferred the applique form.  I do want to try some resist dyeing at some point, but I'll save that for another project.

A lot of the T-shirts I've used in my applique projects have been Hanes brand.  Not because of a quality or even brand preference, it is just what I happened to have purchased.  However, if I'm going to make a grape shirt, I should use Fruit of the Loom as a base, right?  I needed another package of Lucky sized white t-shirts anyway.  I prewashed the shirt and then was ready to applique.

Purple is my favorite color, so I had a lot of purple fabric in my stash already.  I have plans to do a fun pumpkin project created out of many different orange fabrics someday, and I couldn't decide if I wanted to do a similar feel for these grapes.  I could stick with the solid purple and make a simple solid pattern, or I could cut circles out of multiple different fabrics to create a more unique bunch of grapes.  I decided to at least start cutting out multiple fabric circles and then decide which I liked best.

I had a lot of scrap two sided iron able adhesive and small purple scraps of fabric in my stash.  See, there was a reason for me to start saving every little scrap!  I'm so glad it finally came in handy.  I need to do more projects so I can have even more scrap pieces...  Fabric collecting is really a slippery slope!

I don't have a protractor anymore  (I think I need to buy one!), so I didn't have anything to help me draw perfect circles.  I decided to freehand the circles and hope for the best.  I also cut the circles freehand and sort of made it up as I went along.

I really liked the extra dimension that the two patterns brought to the table.  I don't think I'm going to add more than two different patterns, but I thought that the added texture would help when I used textured green fabric for the leaves.

I carefully positioned the patterned grapes so they would be in a variety of directions.  I didn't want just one out of place so I tried to have many different orientations.

I had some purple thread in my stash ready to go for this project.  I think it was from the Wellesley shirts I made for reunion last year but I never ended up stitching down the W's.  It was then that I learned that the double sided iron on adhesive does not stay through the washing machine.

I chose a stitch length of 3.0 and a distance of 1.0 for my zig zag stitch.  The tension was really strange.  I stuggled to figure out what was going on and why my stitches looked so sloppy.  It turned out that the bobbin wasn't installed correctly so there was zero tension on the bobbin.  Whoops!  Fixing the bobbin fixed my stitches. Can you tell the difference?

I actually went through and ripped out the bad grapes.  This shirt was a fast project without a real purpose, but I didn't want it to look sloppy.  It was worth the extra effort to correct the error.

I switched the thread and bobbin to green for the leaves.  This time I used a stitch length of 2.0 and distance of 1.0 for my zig zag.  I find it easier to deal with small details when I use a shorter stitch.

In about 12 hours, this shirt was done!  It just needed a final pressing and we were ready to get dressed in our fruit outfits.  It only took me this long because I can't sew or iron while the boys are awake.  Well, while Rowdy is awake.  Lucky is old enough now to understand how NOT to touch the iron.

Lucky was in a grumpy mood.  He was very excited to see his shirt but was not as excited to take some pictures.  After some singing, he cheered up and was super happy to be Mr. Grape.

We took a bunch of silly selfies together.  Lucas doesn't always like to participate in selfies (he gets distracted really quickly) so it was fun that he was so happy to try different expressions with me.

It was a lot harder to get pictures of all three of us together.  Rowdy LOVES taking selfies... in certain situations.  If he is focused on going outside, he doesn't want to stop for a picture.  Sometimes we trick him by taking the pictures as we are putting on his shoes.

We went to a birthday party and felt full of summery fun.

I love to dress the boys in coordinating outfits.  In fact, separate from their dressers I have matching outfits folded together so I can easily pull them when I feel the urge for a twinning day.  I don't think that these outfits will be use exclusively for mommy and me days, but I have a feeling we'll still end up in a fruit basket together over the course of the summer.

Friday, July 21, 2017

DIY Mickey Ears - Buzz Lightyear and Olaf

I'm going to Disney World!  Well, not until the end of the year, but I am so excited about this trip.  How do I channel my excitement when I'm in a hurry up and wait phase?  I craft!  I still have a pair of Minnie Mouse Ears I bought at Disney Land over a decade ago.  When I saw the variety of DIY Mickey ears people make to go to the parks, I knew that I wanted to try to make some for myself.

In this post, I am going to show you how I made two different pairs of Mickey Ears, Buzz Lightyear Ears and Olaf Ears.  I made my own cardboard patterns and constructed the ears out of craft felt, puffy paint and headbands from the dollar store with assistance from my sewing machine and a glue gun.  I wanted to test out two different ways to attach the ears to headbands with these first projects.  In one type (Buzz), I would wrap the ear around the headband to attach it. In the other (Olaf), I would just glue the ear directly onto the headband.

Creating the Templates

The last time I had a Disney adventure was at Disney Land in 2004.  I bought these light up Princess Minnie ears while I was there.  They don't light up anymore but I like the scale and the fit.  When I looked at the ear on these headbands I found out that a standard plastic take out container fit the dimensions of the ear almost perfectly.  

Using the take out container as a stencil, I created two different sets of pattern pieces.  First, I traced out circles and cut them using a Fiskars Heavy Duty Craft Knife.  It really helped that I already owned a Fiskars self healing cutting mat as part of my quilting cutting set.  I traced two circles at the approximate position where I would want the ears.  I then took the headband and laid it on top of the circles, and traced the headband onto the cardboard, too.  This would help me get the curve right so I could glue the ears onto the headband in the end.  

I purchased two different types of headbands from the dollar store (you really can't beat $0.33/headband!), some solid fabric covered ones and some plastic ones with square cut out holes.  The headbands with cut outs don't have enough surface area to glue directly, which is part of the reason I wanted to test out a few different gluing techniques.  I made a separate template for each headband type.  For the more open headband, I made the template with a rectangular tab.  I would use this to glue the ear around the headband.

I don't have a lot of experience with an craft knives, but OH MY GOODNESS.  This is life changing.  Cutting cardboard is such a pain but with this knife it takes almost no time at all.  I wonder if I can use the knife to cut felt, too.  The blade might get dull pretty fast, but I don't even care if I need to replace it quickly.  I double checked my pattern pieces, and all of my templates ended up to be extremely symmetrical.  This means that when I cut felt I can cut four identical pieces.  Wahoo!

Buzz Lightyear Mickey Ears 

My brother liked the fit of the open plastic headband the best, so I decided to go with the tabbed template to make his Buzz Lightyear Mickey Mouse ears. I took my template with tabs and cut out for pieces of thick white felt.  I followed the template exactly and didn't adjust the size at all.

Many craft stores have two different types of craft felt.  There are the thin $0.39 pieces that are approximately the size of a piece of paper and come in every color imaginable.  Then there are the thicker, $1.99 pieces that are larger than two pieces of paper.  I used the sturdier pieces for the structure of all of my ears.

I tried to use my new knife to cut the felt but that didn't work.  It felt like it was cutting but nothing happened.  I traced the templates out with my air soluble marker and cut them out with scissors.

Now it was time to decorate these ears.  I thought it would be fun to do a chest plate on one side and a wing on the other.  When I was picking up supplies, for some reason the craft store didn't have any red felt.  I decided to make the red pieces out of gray felt and then use puffy paint over them to create the red markings.

I cut out some felt pieces that were larger than the ears.  I didn't want to have to worry about making the shapes fit perfectly, so I would cut them back after they were sewn onto the ears.

I pinned the larger felt pieces onto the ears, and then used Gutternmann Invisible Thread to stitch them down.  I'd never used invisible thread before, and it was really exciting to not have to change the thread for each color of felt I was using.  I think that I will use this thread more often!  I know from doing a lot of projects with Lucky that gluing felt directly doesn't always hold very well, so I wanted to sew the ears to help keep things secure.

After the decorations were stitched down, I sewed them to the back pieces with right sides out.  I stitched along every edge except for the bottom where the tab was located.  I left this edge open.  I also trimmed the edges of the decorations so they would fit entirely on the ear.  

While I was sewing these ears I learned how to adjust my bobbin tension.  This is life changing! I can't believe I didn't pay attention to that little screw sooner.  

I lightly stuffed the ears with some polyfill stuffing.  This step is completely optional, the ears are pretty sturdy on their own.  However, I like the way the shape of the ears filled out.

I wish that I had adjusted the orientation of the wing on the ear, but overall I was super pleased with how this came out.  I could have centered the chest plate a bit better, too, but I am starting to see something that could have come from the Toy Story universe.  

I used a hot glue gun to attach the ears to the headband.  First, I opened up the to tabs and applied some hot glue to the center seam between the front and back of the ear and put this directly onto the headband.  This functioned to secure the front and back together and to be the first attachment to the headband.  I could have sewn the bottom closed, but I wanted to let it be a little more open which the glue helped me accomplish.  

Next, I added some more glue and wrapped the back tab around the headband towards the front.  Once that was cool, I added some glue to the front tab and wrapped it around the heaband, holding it in place.  I repeated this for the second ear and suddenly I had a DIY set of Mickey Mouse ears!  

The moment of truth came when I tried on these ears.  They stayed up!  The ears also felt super secure, I wasn't worried about them falling off of the headband at all.  With the taps, the ears were glued to themselves and to the headband.  

To finish off my custom Buzz Lightyear ears, I needed to embellish them.  With hot glue, I secured the felt circles to the ears, painting the grey felt red with puffy paint.  I added stripes to the wing and defined the edges with some white puffy paint.  

Voila!  My first set of DIY mickey mouse ears.  Do you see Buzz Lightyear?  

Olaf Mickey Mouse Ears

My Buzz Lightyear Mickey Ears came together so quickly that I wanted to try another pair right away.  I had many ideas for ears, but not a lot of materials to start making them.  My kids are big fans of Frozen, and I realized that I had everything I needed to make a fast set of Olaf ears.  Rowdy is too young to make any ear requests of his own, so maybe these will work for him to wear at the park.  (I doubt anyone other than me will wear the ears around the parks, but if I can get everyone to wear them for one photo at the resort I'll be happy.)   

The solid, fabric covered headbands are a little smaller, so I thought it would work better for the kids.  I also wanted to try out gluing ears directly on to a headband so I could figure out which template I liked using better.  I cut four circles out of the thick felt and the some irregular circles for coal buttons on the other.

Since the coal buttons were the only embellishments on the Olaf Mickey ears, I decided to stitch them down.  Instead of switching thread colors, I used the clear Gutternmann Invisible Thread I already had in my machine.  You can barely see the stitches, but they are there.

I stitched just around the outside curved edge of the ears and left the bottoms completely open.  I lightly stuffed the eras with some polyfill stuffing.  

When it was time to glue the ears onto the headband, first I marked the center of the headband with a pipe cleaner.  I planned to use the pipe cleaners for this project anyway, but I found this to be a simple marking method to use on headbands that didn't have a clearly defined center already marked.  

I didn't sew the bottom of the ears shut.  I held them closed with my hands and applied hot glue to the whole bottom edge and then pressed them directly onto the headband.  I added some extra glue to any gaps that were present.  

The ears feel SUPER stable.  The bottom doesn't look as clean as the wrapped version, and it was a little trickier to get it positioned onto the headband.  I think that I'll use the tabbed template whenever I can moving forward.

I used a few more pipe cleaners to create Olaf's hair.  I wrapped them around the center of the headband first and then twisted them together to create the various shapes.  Each piece of "hair" that you see is actually two pieces of pipe cleaners twisted together.  

The Olaf Mickey Mouse ears took almost no time to put together.  Lucky was very excited to try them on, although he did ask me if I was done with his Simba ears yet.  

After I took these pictures I realized that I should have had Lucas wear the Olaf applique shirt that I made for him last winter.  I doubt that shirt will fit him when we go to Disney World, but it would be fun to take some themed pictures.  Maybe next time.

Rowdy thinks the headband is pretty awesome, too.  The adult sized headbands fit the kids great!

Olaf and Buzz are really only the beginning of my DIY Mickey ears projects.  By the time I sat down to write this post, I had completed multiple other pairs of ears plus had the materials to make many more.  I hope to make (cough, at least) one pair for each member of my family plus multiple pairs for myself.

I was inspired by many different projects that I saw.  I looked at multiple different handmade mickey ears to get a sense of design, construction, and general appearance.  Check out my Disney World Ideas Pinterest board to see more of what inspired me.

I think that it is safe to say that I've gone down the rabbit hole.  I am afraid to tell you how many different sets of ears I've made since these first two projects.  Let's just say that you are about to see a lot of Disney themed crafting coming up!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  None of the product selections were solicited.  I selected all of the products in this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.