Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Royal Sweetness

As I have emersed myself in the world of fabric, I forgot about my old fun place to play: the world of buttercream frosting and cake. A good friend, I used to work with, called me and asked if I would make a princess cake. I haven't made a cake in a long time. Considering I work on the weekends at night, and most parties are on the weekend, making cakes is not conducive to my schedule. I put a lot of effort into each cake and they can easily take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours or more to complete. I do not like to freeze cakes. No matter how many times I read that it locks in the moisture. There's just something about cutting into a fresh cake. I love that feeling and that's what I want people to see and taste when they eat my cakes. Luckily for my friend, this party was going to take place on a Tuesday. I didn't know how good my skills were anymore. I was nervous about this one. I think the last one I made was this princess cake. Boy, was I really rusty THEN... what about now??!! I searched for hours online for ideas on a cute princess cake. I have two boys. I know about transformers, cars, legos, bionicles, bugs, and dirt. Princesses are NOT my thing. I needed some serious inspiration. My go to places to look at cake images are Google images, Yahoo images, and Cake Central. OH MY!! There were thousands and thousands of princess cakes. I didn't like any of them. Thousands and thousands of cakes and I couldn't find a single one that caught my attention. I pulled ideas from different images and started planning... and praying.

12 hours...
12 cups of homemade buttercream frosting...
1.5 cups of royal icing...
8 ice cream cones...
4 sugar cones...
1/2 a bottle of hot pink sprinkles.
1.5 full recipes of WASC (White Almond Sour Cream) cake later...I had turned

100 royal icing flowers
4 turrets
2 double-layered tiers (12" and 8" squares)
into a beautiful Castle Cake!

This is what my kitchen looks like each time I make a cake. It looks like "bakery bomb" went off... TWICE!!! And yes.. I had icing in my hair.. on my clothes.. on the floor... you name it. I believe I even had cake batter splattered on the floor. Don't ask.. I don't know.

This time I ran out of room and had to extend the mess to the dining room table!

See those ice cream cones there... I'm cussing them out as I take this picture. We were NOT friends.

I actually tried to be efficient and I made the royal icing flowers early. That way, if they didn't come out I could go to Plan B... whatever that was. Fortunately, I was able to make 100 royal icing flowers. Every single one of them made it to the cake. Well... except a couple.. my little one thought he could steal a few without me knowing. He hasn't learned that mommy has eyes everywhere.

I even prepared the buttercream frosting for the decorations on the cake ahead of time.

This is a crumb coat. The purpose it to lock in all the crumbs so you don't see any crumbs through your white frosting. Also, if you are in a pinch and can't decorate your cake in one day, apply the crumb coat to lock in the moisture of the cake until you can get to it the next day. A crumb coat is just a really thin layer of frosting. You don't need to apply very much.

And we finally have tears tiers. I cut out a portion of the bottom ice cream cones so that they would sit flush against the cake.

In the end, I showed those cones who was boss! The top of the turret is a sugar cone I covered in frosting and rolled in sugar sprinkles. The window is made of black fondant.

Princess Ariel had her own pond outside of the castle.

Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty got to be at the top of the castle.

And finally...
here is a shot of the entire cake..

I am pleased with the way it came out. I am happy to know that while they are rusty.. I still have my skills. The recipient loved it and that is what always makes me the most happy. That wow factor. It's what every designer lives for. Wheather it be through art, sewing, quilting, or cake decorating. It's knowing that you just had a special part in making someone's day special. Happy 4th Birthday Nyelle!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Longhorn's Sacrifice

I finally finished my top secret project!! YAY!!! Here is the story behind my latest quilt.

In Texas, there is nothing bigger than football. In our house, there is nothing bigger than college football. Our Saturdays revolve around the college football schedule. My husband is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, thus making us Longhorn fans. Although, we live in Lubbock, Tx and he went to law school at Texas Tech University, he remains true to his undergraduate alma mater. There are many rival games in Texas, but none bigger for us than University of Texas vs. Texas A&M....Longhorns v. Aggies. It is part of our Thanksgiving tradition to sit and watch this great rivalry game. My husband has several cousins who are A&M fans, thus making this game even more fun. Oh, the trash talk that goes on during that week. It's great!!!

Well, in May 2011, one of my sister-in-laws graduated from Texas A&M San Antonio. Yes, she is now an Aggie. Poor thing. My heart goes out to her lost soul. Haha. Love you! After several years of doing accounting, she decided she wanted to do more. She pursued a degree in Elementary Education and graduated this past May. I am so very proud of her. When I asked her what she wanted for graduation, she had only one request... a quilt. YAY!!! I could do that. Then she dropped the bomb... she wanted an Aggie quilt!

 WHAT?!?!? Umm.. no way.. no how!!! How could I bring maroon fabric into my burnt orange household?!?! Nope.. not gonna do it.. nuh uh. I told her my machine might blow up as soon as the needle hits maroon fabric and she would have to buy me a new one.

But of course, my soft heart gave in. I would sacrifice just this once... afterall.. she IS family. We started talking about what she wanted on her quilt. All she wanted on it was Aggie fabric and some zebra print. Umm...that was HARD!!! I am a very symmetrical person. I can't handle abstract very well. I thought about the quilt for several weeks. How was I going to combine the aggie fabric and zebra print so that they flowed together nicely? I couldn't make anything work that I was pleased with. I finally went to my LQS for some advice and inspiration. I perused through the fabrics and couldn't find any that looked good. I don't usually follow patterns, because I don't follow rules well. :) Then.. it happened... I found the perfect pattern...an abstract pattern. Funny how things happen like that.

The wonderful ladies at the shop helped me find all the coordinating fabrics. 
There are a few fabrics missing in this stack that made their way into the quilt. Wow... they look good together don't they? I mean... those are the ugliest colors I have ever seen. Haha.

 I was excited to get this baby started.

Strips to cut and sew into squares

I quilted a meandering pattern all over the quilt in maroon thread. Each of the fabrics flowed into each other very well.

I put a zebra print on the back and a solid maroon binding

This quilt is one of the biggest quilts I have made. It measures appx 87"x57". A perfect size to lay on the couch with and watch a movie... or a football game. :)  Now, I need to put this in the mail so I can get this maroon fabric out of my house. Hahah.

 Hook 'Em Horns.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

To Bless a Child

The best part of bloggyland is all the different people you get to meet. As you reach more people, it enables you to do things that you couldn't do alone. To make an impact. To use your God-given talents to show God's love to others. A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Theresa of Confessions of a Craftaholic regarding her new project Quilt of Love. She was inviting me to participate in this wonderful opportunity. Her project "Quilt of Love" is about creating a quilt for a sick child at Texas Children's Hospital. Please read her post I linked above to get more details. As y'all may know, I am a pediatric nurse so this opportunity was very close to my heart. I was so excited. I love the children I care for. They are sweet kids lost and scared in a foreign place. They look to you and depend on you to make them feel better. Some kids come and go in a few days. Others, stay for weeks or months at a time. For the kids who stay in the hospital for weeks, they long for something that brings them comfort. Several of them bring their "special blankie" from home. When we took my youngest to the ER we made sure to bring the dog he always carried around and his favorite blanket. He clung to his dog and his blanket the entire time we were there. Sadly, there are some kids who don't have a "special blankie". What a great way to combine my compassion for sick children and my love for quilting to bless a child with a blanket that could become their "special blankie."

Theresa is simply asking for participants to make at least one 12 1/2" square quilt block of our choice and mail them to her. She will then join these blocks together into a quilt and donate this quilt to a child at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, TX . The more quilt blocks we can get the more children we can bless with a quilt. Oh what a great way to use our talents. If you would love to participate in this wonderful project please visit Theresa's blog Confessions of a Craftaholic. I look forward to working with all those who are participating.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Catching Up

*Taps mic* *tap tap tap* Anyone still out there? Hello?

Sorry, it has been way too many months since my last post. I have been busy sewing.... really....okay okay.. maybe not "busy" sewing.. but I have been BUSY. March was a crazy month and I had no desire to sew. OH my!!! Did I just say that?!?!? I should have been committed for such feelings!!! I really just had no inspiration, nor any real projects to complete. Thus, no motivation. I didn't even browse on Etsy or Artfire. *GASP*

In April, I dusted off my sewing machine and tried something new... crayon holders. I'm one of those scatterbrains that likes to try a little this and a little that. I had three cute girls to be my guinea pigs. It took me three tries to figure out exactly what works best for the crayon holders. So each one got something different. The following photos are the outside and inside of these three crayon holders. I placed a package of 8 crayons in each one and a 3x5 scratch pad. Although, they can fit up to 16 crayons, or 8 fat markers, or 16 mini markers, or 16 mini color pencils, etc... possibilities endless. Each one measures 6x9 closed and 18x9 open. The girls loved them! They are so portable and can be taken anywhere.

This one I got just right. Two sides were covered with interfacing. Loved the stability.

This one had no interfacing at all. That was definitely a NO NO

This one had only one side with interfacing. Needed a little more stability

These were easy and fun to make. So much fun I was willing to make them to sell. A good friend of mine placed an order for four!!! FUN FUN FUN!!! Two girls and two boys. I really should get that darn "store" up and running. * Rewrites that on the To Do list for the hundreth time* Can't really figure out what is keeping me. Mainly, I just need someone to tell me step by step how to do it. Oh yeah.. and inventory... But how can I work on inventory when I keep getting other projects to work on. Let's not forget about being a mom.. oh and a full-time nurse. Well, that must be why I can't get the "store" up and running. Heck, I can't even keep up with this blog!!!!

Focus ... focus... quilting blog... yes.. quilting (images of rulers, graph paper, and rotary cutters dance in my head)

Of course there has been some quilting going on in these past few months. My best friend from junior high became an auntie. YAY!!!! Her poor sister had to "put up" with me every night I spent at my best friend's house. Oh the stories she could tell. :) It was only "fair" that I make a quilt for her little peanut. This little peanut came a little earlier than expected. She spent several weeks in the NICU. Y'all know I have a very soft spot for tiny peanuts. To top it off, this little peanut was a GIRL!!! Doubly Whammy! Thus, a special quilt was created. I finally decided to use my scraps and made a stacked coin quilt. YAY!!! I have to admit... it didn't make a dent in my scraps! Anyone out there got a good pattern for scraps? Maybe I'll bust out another stacked coin quilt. Quick and easy. Those who have received some girly quilts from me will recognize some of these fabrics. I love the bright "fun" colors of this quilt. The white fabric and backing were not from scraps.  Many prayers were said during the making of this quilt for healing and blessings of this cute little peanut. I am happy to report that she is a healthy beautiful growing peanut. :)

Mmmm.... I LOVE LOVE LOVE the backing.

I took this quilt to work to show off. (And so I possibly sewed a little bit of the binding on too at work... shhhh) And with that came a quilt order!! A baby quilt for a baby boy. Oooo... I have two boys.. but I don't make many baby boy quilts. Theme? Unknown. WHAT?!!?!? Carte blanc?!?! No inspiration.. no theme..  no color scheme?!!?!? For any other quilter that is like the golden ticket to Charlie's Chocolate Factory.. for me... THE HAUNTED HOUSE!!!! My imganiation goes only so far. It definitely doesn't reach the carte blanc realm. So off to the fabric store I went in hopes that one fabric would catch my eye. After about an hour of roaming up and down the aisles. I had put together and assortment of blues and greens. A little log cabin block and VOILA: "Blue to the Green Squared" was born! I was very pleased with it. As you can tell, I LOVE Bright colors. They make me HAPPY.

Placed a line of scraps in the center of the quilt. I prayed so hard it wouldn't come out crooked after quilting 

 As you can tell, I love quilts rolled up

So, that is basically everything I have been up to in my sewing world that tries to squeeze itself into my mommy, nurse, wife, world. I am currently working on another special project that is top secret. It deserves a post all to itself. I will post as soon as I am done. Which should be sometime next week, I hope. If "life" doesn't try to interfere. HA!  

I will leave you with some AWESOME pics my wonderful friend Amanda from Nizhoni Pet Photography took of my handsome boys. She takes wonderful pics of people and their pets. I asked if she would use my boys as guniea pigs whenever she wanted to venture out into the world of human subjects. She gracefully agreed. All of the ones she took were my favorites, but these are my favs of the favs. Please visit her website to see the AWESOME work she does!

Love this sweet boy

Yes, that's the face he uses to get out of trouble

That's my handsome young man! 

Mmmm..this is my favorite. I want to jump in and squeeze them both!