Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Painted Canvas Pouches

Last week we took apart a moving box, got out painter's tape, mixed up some tempura paints (to be really permanent, acrylic paint would be a better choice - I don't plan on washing the finished result much but it is still washable if need be!), got out some scrap unbleached canvas fabric, and let our creative juices flow!

Time for some color!

love a good looking rainbow

toddler approved

"Mommy, I'm painting orange grass!"

drying works of art

Initially, I planned to make zippered pouches but I didn't have the zippers I thought I had laying around so I went for a simple drawstring bag instead with natural cotton ribbon.

The perfect little pouch for collecting treasures.

A fun way to display artwork and it is functional!

Twigs. Stones. Leaves.
Using a fabric marker write child's name or initials on the bottom with the date!

The stiffness of the painted canvas plus the boxed corners help the bag stand on its own.
Use it as an activity bag for child to put toys in for a rode trip. Whatever fits in the bag, may come on the trip!

The perfect size.

No-Knead Bread, The Best Bread Ever

This recipe for no-knead bread is a keeper. I promise. It is published in "The Times," courtesy of Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery (copied and pasted below for easy reference). I used all-purpose flour and no cornmeal or wheat bran. It's crusty on the outside and light and chewy on the inside. It's perfect. You hardly do anything. The most effort is in eating it and that hardly takes any effort. We enjoyed ours with avocado oil, freshly cracked black pepper, and grated Parmesan. Boom, half the loaf was gone before we knew it!

I would have never thought to bake bread in a cast iron pot.


  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • cornmeal or wheat bran as needed


  1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
  3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
  5. http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11376-no-knead-bread

Check out that golden crust. 

Already starting on the second batch.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Papier-Mâché on a Rainy Day

It has been a long long time since I even uttered the words "papier-mâché." As kids we used to make so many papier-mâché projects, including a piggy bank! Due to a recent move, we have packing paper lying around - which, by the way, is awesome drawing paper, table liner for paint projects - and is perfect for papier-mâché! Here are some little bowls we made (we have leftover glue to make plates another day!) using small snack bowls for a mold. Depending on how fast your project dries between the different steps (especially if it's rainy and/or super humid!), the project may roll over a few days to complete. Have fun!

Day 1: Cover work surface with wipe-able tablecloth, make glue, rip/cut up little strips of paper, line bowls with Saran wrap.

  • flour
  • water
  • salt
  • thin paper or newspaper (we don't get the newspaper yet so we used packing paper)
  • a mold for whatever you want to create
  • Saran wrap to line the mold
  • acrylic paint in an assortment of desired colors
  • paint brushes
  • mod podge if desired

Glue = whisk together 1 cup flour and 3 cups hot water and 3 tablespoons of salt (to discourage mold) until a thin glue-like consistency; add more flour or water as needed (note, there are other "glue" recipes out there, this just happens to be the one we used); this made more than enough for the two bowls we made so if you're making a little project, feel free to use half of the recipe.

Day 2: Remove bowls from the mold (toss the Saran wrap), paint bowls with a primer like gesso or just a solid acrylic paint coating. Allow bowls to dry completely before painting on other colors! It has been a bit humid here so the bowls have been drying next to the dehumidifier to speed things up!
Day 2: Ready to paint!

We bought some small acrylic paints on clearance. Little Miss E picked out the colors. Some of them have a pearly shine! "So sparkly mama!"
"Mama, can I have orange brushes for my project?"

"I'm painting a rainbow in the inside, mama."

"My brush needs to be wet."

"Hmmm...what color next?"

Day 2 or 3 (or whenever your bowls dry, acrylic paint dries pretty quickly but if you run out of time, leave it for the next day!): Time to seal the bowls with a glossy finish! I did this one sans-toddler since Mod Podge kinda smells. No rain this day so it was a back patio kind of thing.  I did two layers total no the outside and inside of the bowls.

The finished products in action (note, the bowls are not food-safe, just for play!):

Garden Treasures

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Toddler Pinafores

Summer is hot. Toddlers don't like clothes (well, not all of them but many go through a phase at some point of preferring to run around really free). A pinafore is quick to get on (no buttons, no zippers, no fuss) and depending on the length, it can last through the seasons as a dress, tunic, and top with nothing underneath, a t-shirt underneath, or a long-sleeved shirt underneath!

Fun floral outside. Light denim inside. Could be reversible but I added buttons. See caption of next photo.

I based my pattern loosely off of Steph Chow's Simple Toddler Pinafore Pattern. Her pattern does not include a seam allowance so I cut an additional 1/2 inch around to potentially make up for my two fabric not lining up exactly. Her pattern is for 18 month so I increased the length for my two year old and extended the strap length.

Large wooden buttons on the shoulder to hide part of the ugly join - I had to seam rip a couple times as I tried different ways to join the shoulder straps so they turned out not so pretty. Ignore the stray threads.

This one I didn't extend the original pattern yet so it's more top length than tunic or dress length.

"Mommy, my basil plant is REALLY thirsty" says Little Miss E before watering the flowers on her new top.

So after this first one, I HAD to make another (there's a trend with previous projects of HAVING to make several more immediately after the first one).

This one is a little longer than the first and the joining of the seams are overlapping instead of one tucked into the other.

This pinafore is reversible with solid yellow on the inside but she likes the flowers so the flowers are on the outside!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Book Nook

We recently checked out a great book from the library, Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures by Amanda Blake Soule. I started marking off projects with tape flags and realized I was pretty much checking off every other project! Here's one the author titles "cozy wall pockets" that we've renamed E's "book nook." 

Sear ends of ribbon for hanging the book nook. The length will depend on where you're hanging it. We're starting to run out of wall space so it had to be a certain length to fit below a hanging painting and above a vent. 
We used all scrap fabric and a branch from the yard. The book has instructions with dimensions for the fabric but we used scraps that were already cut into various rectangles and left them that way. After some arranging, rearranging, and pinning, the fabric pockets were sewn down to the back base fabric (that I serged to prevent a fraying mess).

Space ribbon loops out evenly across the top of the book nook base fabric (wrong side up) and pin. Then sew an "x" on each loop to the base of the book nook.

Little Miss E helping place the felt hearts on top of the sewn "x" for the loops (we hot glued them down).
The white hearts were perfect for little doodles.

The bottom right pocket is an old t-shirt of daddy's that got personalized by E with permanent marker. We left room should additional decor need to be added in the future!

Daddy smoothing out a branch to hang E's book nook.
The branch turned out to not be very straight and the loops didn't account for the difference so binder clips are evening out the book nook. But that's purely cosmetic! E loves the family project book nook and so do we!