Thursday, January 31, 2013

Littlebit Handmade

It’s official, I’m suffering from the Jan/Feb gray doldrums. I am bored, tired of the dark and annoyed that I only have an hour or two with my baby girl each night. Plus Hubby is working extra hard to bring home the bacon – and boy do we love bacon!

So guess what. I’ve decided to take on a project! It’s the perfect thing to keep me busy each night with the baby girl snug in her bed, TV droning in the background and the animals hibernating the winter away. I’m opening an Etsy store where I will sell the lovely crochet baby hats I’ve been whipping up.

All this time I’ve been making crochet blankets that take months on end to complete when these beanies can be whipped up in one night. What was I thinking?

Of course I’m only preparing for the inevitable success and overwhelming consumer demand for my handmade wares once I flip the switch on the open sign. I’m so prepared that I’ve even started to think how I’m going to package these little hats. One of the reasons I love Etsy SO MUCH is that everything I order is packaged with such detail. Sometimes the packaging is as valuable as the item I ordered. I want my customers to have that same experience. What will the packaging look like? You’ll have to order to find out.

Oh and in real life I’m in Marketing. Thankfully that career has connected me to some wicked talented people. Lucky me, one of those artisans helped me out with a banner for my new shop.

I hope to have it open next week. The opening is dependant on getting good product shots this weekend which requires a cooperative baby girl and good lighting. I will be sure to announce the grand opening via many social media outlets. Also, I have high expectations that each of you will pimp my wares.

One of the hats that will be for sale:


Friday, January 25, 2013

Costa Rica

Winter is here, evident by the short days, flaky, dry skin, chapped lips, cabin fever and my ever-angry self. The cold has settled into my bones and set up camp. No amount of layers, hot beverages nor heat can evict the chill that infected the core of my being.

But instead of dwelling on the cold, I’m going to reflect on our recent trip to Costa Rica. Hubs and I went there on our Honeymoon, so we were THRILLED about the opportunity to go back. Two of our good friends were having a destination wedding and insisted we be in attendance. Um, warm beach in January, yes please!

We left the baby girl at home, right after her birthday, which was right after Christmas. It all happened so fast I think the birthday candles were still smoking when we left. She had a great time being cared for by the whole clan, Bubby and Grandpa, Aunt Biscuit and Uncle Nick Nick, and finally ending up with Uncle Meg, Uncle Jack and Q. Thanks to my new phone, the Mom-guilt was squelched daily as I facetimed with my baby.

The trip was awesome and the weather was Ah-MA-zing. It was HOT, HOT, HOT in the mid morning and just when the thought of shade crossed my mind, high clouds rolled in, leaving me with no desire to move from my designated spot. Look at this view, would you?


During our Honeymoon, Hubs and I experienced the wealth of what the country had to offer, snorkeling, kayaking, zip lining, hiking the base of the volcano and taking coffee plantation tours. This trip was much more low key. Don’t get me wrong, we did venture out to Jaco for some souvenir shopping. I also had to sign a waiver to hike to the beach through the jungle (not a leisurely stroll).


But in general I could be found next to the pool, drink in hand. Pura Vida!

And then there was the reason we were there, the wedding. The bride and groom couldn’t have picked a more beautiful location. It was a beautiful sunset, followed by a private dinner.



We capped off the night by releasing wish lanterns into the black sky. (Notice the hat? It can’t be all serious!)


If I ever win the lottery, this is where I'll have a vacation home!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

First Birthday party and cake

Let me start of by saying that I will do my best to not have another kid born anywhere near the holidays. December was an expensive month!

I racked my brain on any indoor place I could hold my gal’s first birthday. I scanned the internet, brainstormed with family and asked all my friends. Being right after Christmas means I didn’t really want to spend money renting space. Tangent – have you seen these crazy over-the-top parties that people throw for their kids????

Like this:

Winter Candyland First Birthday Party

Or this
Colorful Chevron & Polka Dots First Birthday Party

Or just click here-  and check out all the beautiful and meticulously detailed first birthday parties.

I looked at all these and thought. "uh, no." I love my baby girl and these parties are beautiful to look and inspire, but I’m a working mom and a realist. I decided to just have the party at home. Seems to make the most sense right? Well, let me explain the major issue with this. Our house is barely 1000 square feet with a layout that is the worst possible for entertaining. I guess this house will only accommodate family. That was still 25 people! Make the best with what you’ve got, right? Well we took down the Christmas decorations, rearranged the furniture and set up for the party.

I had a whole pinterest board full of ideas for Caroline’s birthday. What I was most excited about was the cake. You all know how I love to take on a challenge when it comes to cakes. Side note, it’s funny, when looking at the stats for my blog the only visitors (besides those of you that I’m familiar with) are people googling either “crepe cake” or “gourmet birthday cake”. Well here’s another one that will hopefully boost traffic. Or maybe I just don't know about SEO and someone can teach me....

I know, having a little girl, it should be all pink and princesses right? I’m sure that’s what she’ll ask for in years to come. But since she doesn’t yet have a voice or an option, I decided primary colors. And THIS was going to be THE CAKE.

(The original baker found on My Insanity did a whole alphabet inspired birthday. This is another amazing, setting-the-bar-too-high example of what I will NOT be doing.) But the cake, I can do that. It wouldn’t be my first attempt at a rainbow cake, but it would require me to take on FONDANT. I figured sticking to straight lines and maybe using a stencil would help. Challenge accepted. I went out and bought a square cake pan.

Enter shortcut number one – I love to bake. I like to take on challenges but the decoration and assembly of this cake was enough of a challenge. Here is the secret shortcut that I can only admit because it really did taste good. I bought white cake mix from a box. GASP, I know! Remember though, I’m a working mom planning a party just days after CHRISTMAS. Oh yeah. I might have bought the icing AND fondant from a box too. Sandra Lee would be proud.

So I started by baking the rainbow layers. Once I was finished I discovered a major flaw in execution. The cake was not tall enough to be square! So I stacked and iced and then assessed. I even called Momma T. Thanks to my new iphone, I facetimed with her and showed her the problem. Her solution was actually brilliant, cut it into quarters and make four blocks. That would work, EXCEPT that means decorating FOUR cakes instead of one. So enter shortcut number two – major deviation from the plan, I just decided to decorate it with primary color polka dots, good bye block…

Oh I should mention that the other thing people typically have for their one year old is a smash cake - a little cake that the bugaboo gets to mash and get messy with. Caroline just got a cupcake. I used each color of the cake batter to make a couple cupcakes.

Back to the decorating, I put the crumb coat of icing on the cake and stuck it in the fridge. I did my homework reading about fondant so I’d know how to handle it. I was so intimidated, but you guys, it’s really just like play dough. Tastes like it too. I rolled it out big enough to cover the cake, smoothed it over the top and pleated the corners. I cut off the excess, and used the warmth of my fingers to meticulously hide the corner seams.

Whadya know, it was starting to look like a professional cake!!!


At this point I decided polka dots would be the easiest. I used a disposable shot glass (yep we have those) to cut out the bigger circles. The little circles were shaped from a water bottle lid. By that point, I was having fun. I decided to make a big number 1 and try to cut out the letters for Caroline’s name. I actually had just the right amount of cupcakes to spell her name. To be honest I had one too many. That was tax paid to the baker.

Once I had the shapes cut out, it was just a matter of using the leftover icing to glue them where I wanted.

and TA DA. I’m pretty proud of the finished product.




In addition to this awesome cake, I made a photo collage, bought her a personalized birthday onesies (thanks etsy), and decorated with other things we had laying around, including her baby blanket I made while pregnant.



The birthday girl enjoying the spoils.

I actually discovered that the cake being colored, instead of the icing, proved MUCH easier to clean up while still allowing her to make a mess.

I would call her birthday a success!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Guest Post

Head over to The Harpster Home to check out my guest blog post.

I'll be back later this week. It's been so long that I have tons to write about, Costa Rica, Caroline's Birthday and Christmas.