Friday, March 01, 2013

Soft Toy Carrier/Mat

The Lego Bags are still going strong. So strong that one is being used to hold a bunch of Lego sets for the school's big fundraiser tomorrow night. The crochet t-shirt bag is also being pressed into service. It's the perfect home for the pile of crafting supplies. Both are part of a silent auction to benefit the school's PTC. (We're too frugal to pay to license the letter O.) Someone else is finding colorful plastic bins to hold two more sets of stuff, and the teachers are putting together a couple of book baskets.

Which left a pile of educational and preschool toys. Knowing that I had a pile of cute animal print fabric at home, I volunteered to make a bag for that. I found a pile of quilting fabric for the outside and a sheet from my grandfather's medical practice for the lining. (He had lovely linen sheets that softened with age and are still quite thick. It was light therapy, using giant lamps to treat skin and respiratory ailments, so nothing in the way of bodily fluids in his office.)

I decided to make a playmat bag, similar to the Lego ones, but without the plastic signs for stiffening. I did add one layer of stiff painted canvas in the center, to help things stay a little neater. I'll leave it up to the bidders to decide whether that's enough. The center fabric, a chalkboard theme, is left over from the sashing of a retirement quilt for our retired and now out of retirement interim principal. The cats and dogs and dinosaurs were purchased with an eye to making clothing for the girls. I think there's one finished skirt and a dress that got cut out but never sewn. I'm glad to see the fabric get used before they completely age out of it.

I really don't like velcro, so I went with a giant button to fasten the sides up. The handles are wide grosgrain ribbon doubled up for strength. My one concern now is that it is too gender-neutral and might be perceived as being too babyish. Then again, the toys include Wonder Pets and Thomas the Tank Engine Colorforms, so it may play beautifully to an age group that hasn't gotten too gender segregated yet. Now to buy the block and tackle off the winner to use in our house!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Going to the Dogs

The first half of February was completely filled with cookies. One daughter sold over 350 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. We picked up 32 cases on February 2 and still have a few boxes left to mail out to family nationwide. The other daughter sold Doggie Do-Right Biscuits, to benefit World Wildlife Fund and the Northeast Animal Shelter.

One very generous dog-loving friend ordered 10 packs of biscuits for her dog and her dog-in-law. Well, with an order like that, ziplock bags just were not going to be enough. A quick trip to the fabric stash revealed some dog fabric! Purchased for the dog-loving daughter but never used. On the Monday after the blizzard, when I knew I had to get the biscuits out or they'd never make it to California in time for Valentine's Day. So I measured the bags of biscuits and the box they had to fit in. And I whipped up a couple of these bags. Simple construction, unlined, sewn mostly with the serger. They're a bit long for a lunch bag and a bit small for a grocery bag, but they served their purpose and maybe the recipients will find them nice enough to save or to use to wrap a present for another dog.

The verdict on the biscuits is in already.

" "WOOF, WOOF, lick, lick, slurp, WOOF, WOOF" a thousand licks more from Macy. She is not a treat dog, but she is going crazy for your Doggie Do-Right Biscuits. Thank you and I LOVE the bag."

"My cookie order was spot on, but I just wanted to tell you how much my pup enjoyed the peanut butter dog treats.  She’s very picky about food in general, but wolfed these down with no delay.  Thanks!"

So if you have a dog that you want to make treats for, try this recipe. It seems even dogs appreciate fresh, top quality ingredients. I used uncured bacon (no nitrites) and all-natural peanut butter without any added salt. The recipe is adapted from one that came with a bone-shaped cutter, from the days before we even had kids. We used some fun shapes, too. A pig for the bacon biscuits. A peanut shaped cutter for the peanut butter biscuits. I took a pair of pliers and bent an egg-shaped cutter to make the peanut shape. Or you could make little balls and press them with a fork so they look like peanut butter cookies for humans.

Doggie Do-Right Biscuits

2 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp fat (bacon grease, plain peanut butter or more butter)
2-3 strips bacon, finely minced, optional
1 egg
3 cups whole wheat flour, plus some for rolling
½ cup non-fat dry milk powder
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp wheat germ
1 ½ tsp nutritional yeast (not baking yeast)
2/3 cup cool water

Cream butter, fat and egg until well blended.  Blend in the minced bacon, if using.
Stir together the flour, milk powder, salt, wheat germ and nutritional yeast.
Add flour mixture and cool water alternately to wet mixture. Knead 2-3 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to ¼” thick. Use cookie cutters or a pizza cutter to cut out shapes.
Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 25-30 minutes.
Allow to cool thoroughly before letting your dog in the kitchen.

Duct Tape Clutch (guest post)

My 4th grade daughter made this clutch.

My school had a Beat the Blues Breakfast yesterday. They also had crafts. One of them was working with duct tape. A lot of kids were making purses, so I made one too. It's really simple, except for the bow. First I made a sheet of purple "fabric". (Here's a basic tutorial to make the "fabric".)  Then I folded it over not quite half way to make the pouch part of the purse. I put silver tape along the ends to close it up. I put a strip along the edge of the flap to make it look pretty.

For the bow, I folded a piece of turquoise tape and folded it in half. Then I folded it in half again and "tied" it with a thin strip of pink tape. My mom figured out how to attach it to the purse flap. She cut a slit and used another strip of pink tape to go around the bow and through the slit. Then I put a square of tape over the ends of the strip and another on the other corner so it would match. I taped a length of green cord to the inside of the flap and I was all done!

January 2013 - Presidents' Day Comes Early

I have this friend. She's British but took US citizenship a few years back. For some reason, she's absolutely obsessed with the New England Patriots and most everything American football. She's also a committed Democrat and quite fond of the President. Her daughter suggested that if one could find something with Tom Brady and Barack Obama on it, that would make the perfect present.

Well, her birthday is coming up, so I took up the challenge. You might not be surprised to find that such a product does not exist in the commercial marketplace. I was momentarily excited when I searched for Brady + Obama and got a hit, but it was campaign gear for some Democratic Representative from Pennsylvania. Humbug.

To Spoonflower I went to find some Obama fabric. What do you know, there are artists who designed fabric with his image! I was surprised, but only at the small number of designs available. So I went with the antique looking one in the linen-cotton canvas. Then I searched for Tom Brady fabric there. Not so much overlap between artists and football fans. And probably a whole lot more copyright issues. So I got some basic licensed Patriots fabric from Again, surprisingly little selection, so I went with the one that matched the PoTUS stuff.

A simple small tote, with handles made of the last of the Patriots material. Reversible. Washable. Very Vanessa. Don't tell her yet, because her birthday's not for another 10 days. Hint hint.