Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hot Wheels Car & Truck Tote-n-Play!

This is a fun project to store little hot wheels & matchbox cars in! A great 'grab and go' toy for long waits, restaurants or car rides.

I made 4 of these using only 1 yard of bottom weight fabric (1/2 yard of 2 colors). Two are for my boys - Angie, guess who the other two are for? J&E's birthday - surprise! I hope you love them!

I rated this project intermediate since there are so many steps and this took several hours for me to put each together after the cutting and finishing. Pictures are below each step.

  • 17x10" bottom weight fabric color of choice (main/outside color).
  • 17x6" bottom weight fabric (car pocket color - I used outside color again).
  • 17x10" bottom weight fabric (inside color).
  • Scrap fabric for applique car/truck.
  • Steam a seam or other for applique.
  • 17x3" black cotton or felt for road.
  • 6 - 1x3/16" yellow felt for dashes.
  • Ribbon or elastic for attachment loop (I used a hairband).
  • 2 Buttons for car wheels/attachment.
  • Handle material - ribbon 10".
  1. Cut all pieces to correct size. Fold bottom weight fabric in half length wise and iron. Attach wrong side of scrap fabric to steam a seam, draw a design of choice on paper and cut.
  2. Pin and sew raw edges of folded 17x6 fabric to bottom raw edge of extended 17x10 fabric.
  3. Next sew car pockets: mark lines of pockets before sewing. Starting at 1/4" from the outside and measure 2.75" for each pocket. There will be 6 ending with another 1/4" seam allowance. Sew vertical lines through all 3 layers (2 of pocket and 1 interior), back stitch or double sew each pocket.
  4. For the road; pin and sew black 17x3 road piece centered on top of the inside fabric. Here is where the pre-fold comes in handy. Follow this step by pinning and sewing the dashes onto the road.
  5. Sew in strap next along the left edge near the bottom of the black road fabric, fold the ribbon in half and pin, be sure to reinforce the stitches and place the handle facing inward for correct placement after turning, set the interior fabric aside after this and move on to the next.
  6. With the exterior 17x10 bottom weight fabric, iron on the applique/steam a seam design. Place centered in the bottom half of this fabric approximately 1/2 inch from the fold you made in the fabric. Stitch around applique, if desired. Sew buttons onto car/truck. Template Here.
  7. Sew in closing elastic of choice in line with the button on either the right or left side. If sewed on right side the closure will be on the left of the car/truck, and visa-versa. I sewed mine on the right side of the bottom fabric.
  8. Place finished 17x10 pieces with right sides facing each other. Sew around to attach, leaving room to turn. TIP: do not leave corners as a turning point as this will be harder to finish later as the fabric is heavy. Also, ensure you stitch on the inside of existing stitches or they will show when turning.
  9. Turn, and sew around 1/4" to finish and close opening shut (pin opening first). I also like to iron this before sewing to get a good crisp edge. Next, sew along the center folded crease, to help keep construction of the folded tote.

You are now finished, add cars and enjoy! Here are folding directions and a few more photos!

Variations for this project: use Velcro or ribbon tie as a different closure. Stencil onto pockets or exterior using freezer paper to number the pockets or write letters/name. Sew in road signs, stop light, stop sign using felt in coordinating colors. Using similar method make a roll for crayons, doll and clothes or other toys - adjust pocket size accordingly. If you need help with sizing I am happy to assist!

Leave me a message if you have any questions or other suggestions about this project!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peppermint Bark Popcorn!

Happy Holidays! This past weekend I went to a holiday party and was in charge of bringing an "appetizer" - nothing I had made before sounded good and so, Peppermint Bark Popcorn was born. I guess you could call it something fun like Reindeer Munch - my kids could have eaten this entire bowl, instead the party guests did! It was a major hit - I hope you enjoy it!

2 bags white chocolate chips
1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips
2 tsp peppermint extract
1 6oz box of Bob's Candy Canes, crushed
30 cups air popped popcorn
Salt, to taste

  1. Pop 30 cups of popcorn, set aside.
  2. Melt white chocolate chips, on low in the microwave - stir every minute, until smooth.
  3. Add 2 tsp peppermint extract and stir - it is normal for extract to make chocolate mixture a bit lumpy so work fast.
  4. In HUGE bowl (I used a pot) put 2/3 of the popcorn, about 20 cups and mix in melted peppermint-white chocolate chips. Use your hands and really mix it up, you don't want large hunks of chocolate when it dries. Careful not to crush the popcorn.
  5. Lay out wax paper, and spread covered popcorn.
  6. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
  7. Melt the semi sweet chocolate chips, using same method above. Using a fork, dip into the chocolate and drizzle on top of popcorn.
  8. Add salt (to desired saltiness) to the remaining 10 cups of popcorn. Combine with chocolate covered popcorn for a salt & sweet combination. I also added a hint of salt directly on top of the chocolate popcorn for this effect.
  9. Allow to dry for about 30 minutes, longer if you can - put in a bowl and enjoy, or a large Ziploc bag to save. This will store for about 4 days uneaten until the popcorn starts to get chewy.
Let me know if you have any questions! This recipe can be made to fit any portion - use the above as a guide and your instincts to know how to portion the ingredients.

Variations: add pretzels, chex mix or peanuts!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

24 Activities of Christmas...

Each year around Christmas I try to think of ways to make our family feel in the holiday spirit, and I LOVE traditions. This year a friend and I made these magnets; the 24 activities of Christmas! It is a sort of advent calendar with holiday inspired activities, both big and small. I think the magnets look like cute little ornaments - Enjoy!

For a list of the activities we used, and a printable sheet please email MommyBrained@live.com - I am happy to share!

You will need:
  • Paper, ribbon in choice of colors.
  • Craft glue.
  • Magnets - make sure yours will stick to a surface on both sides I found packs of 10 small round magnets at my local craft store.
  • Large and small circle punches (example: 2" and 1") and number punches 0-9, or similar paper cutter like a Cricut (this can be done with scissors but will take longer and you will need to add a step below to print/draw for outline). We used a cricut for the numbers and large circles and small punch for the activities.
  • Hole puncher, we used a special ribbon puncher with two lines like II to thread the ribbon but a standard punch would work.
  • Printer.
What we did:
  1. Cut/Punch out 48 circles, in the large size. I did 24 red and 24 green - and alternated colors. Example of front/back below.
  2. Cut/Punch out numbers 1-24.
  3. Cut ribbon to desired length - I did the exact width of each large circle, and trimmed after the glue dried.
  4. Print out your list of activities, ensuring they will fit within your small circle punch - and cut/punch out.
  5. Assemble front pieces: Glue a piece of ribbon and number along each large circle - let dry. I alternated top/bottom for the ribbon.
  6. Assemble back pieces: Glue the activity (small punch) on another large circle - do not glue to the back side of your initial large circles. You will have two large circles for each day.
  7. Glue together: place a magnet in between each pair of large circles and glue (make sure you have the activity you want for that day picked out). For mine I have green on front and red on back - or visa versa. Let dry.
  8. Punch a slit out of the top of each circle - thread ribbon and tie.
  9. Arrange on magnetic surface 24-1 & count down with a fun activity each day!
Variations: I have seen other cute magnet advent calendars, such as the 'mini muffin tin' advent calendar that you can put little goodies inside. Note: you will need magnet sheets for this project, not the small rounds we used.

Let me know if you have any questions about this project, or suggestions on variations for other crafters!

Happy Holidays!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In a Pinch - Knit Hat

This is a very easy hat for beginning knitters, as it does not require any decreasing - you knit a square hat, use three needle bind of technique and pinch the corners to make ears!

If you are new to knitting I recommend searching on YouTube to find great tutorials on knitting basics. I have not included any step by step photos, but let me know if you have questions on this project.

  • Size 9 - 16 inch circular needles 
  • Set of double pointed needles (DPN)
  • 1 skein worsted weight navy blue yarn
  • Light blue yarn for hat brim

SIZING: This pattern can be adapted for larger or smaller heads, cast on number of stitches and knit for desired size:
0-6 months: CO 48, 5"
6-12 months: CO 56, 5 1/2"
1-2 years: CO 64, 6"
2 years and up: CO 72, 6 1/2"


  1. With main color, loosely CO desired number of stitches per size, above. Cast on one extra to join. Slip one stitch from the right hand to the left hand needle, being careful not to twist. Knit the first two stitches together. Place a marker.
  2. For brim: Knit 2, purl 2 to the end of the round. Repeat for 5 rounds (about 1 inch).
  3. Switch to second color, knit in the round until hat measures correct length, per sizing above.
  4. Turn hat inside out and bind off using the three needle bind off technique*, tie off and weave in ends.
*Tip: When doing three needle bind off on hats, I use the circular needle and one DPN. During my last round, I place a stitch marker at the half way point, this keeps me on track when knitting the sides together. Fold the circular needle in 'half' and insert the DPN into the first stitch on each needle (k2tog) repeat for second stitch - you will now have 2 stitches on the DPN. Lift the first stitch over the second and drop off using the typical bind off technique.

Variations - For 'girl ears' tie the yarn around the ears in a bow instead of a knot. Or, instead of pinching ears - add pompoms to the corners, creates a cute loose fitting hat. You may want to knit the hat a bit longer for this variation.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pumpkin Knit Hats!

This is the perfect hat for cold fall days, cute and practical. The rolled brim allows for flexibility in sizing and growth and is easy for beginner knitters!

Need directions on how to knit? I have found great toutorials on YouTube - search for "knitting in the round", "long tail cast on", "binding off", "knit joining in the round" or any other keywords used below for great videos on how to knit - for this reason step by step pictures are not included below.

  • Size 7 or 9 - 16 inch circular needles
  • Set of double pointed needles (DPN)
  • 1 skein worsted weight orange yarn
  • Green yarn for closing 

SIZING: This pattern can be adapted for larger or smaller heads, cast on number of stitches and knit for desired size:

0-6 months: CO 48, 5"
6-12 months: CO 56, 5 1/2"
1-2 years: CO 64, 6"
2 years and up: CO 72, 6 1/2"

  1. With main color, loosely CO desired number of stitches per size, above. Cast on one extra to join. Slip one stitch from the right hand to the left hand needle, being careful not to twist. Knit the first two stitches together. Place a marker and begin knitting in the round (knit every row).
  2. Knit in the round for set number of inches per size above (let curl when measuring).
  3. Knit 6, k2tog to end of round.
  4. Knit.
  5. Knit 5 k2tog to end of round.
  6. Knit
  7. Knit 4 k2tog to end of round.
  8. Switch to green yarn - Knit.*
  9. Knit 3 k2tog to end of round. Switch to DPNs if you have not already.**
  10. Knit.
  11. Knit 2 k2tog to end of round.
  12. Knit.
  13. Knit 1 k2tog to end of round.
  14. K2tog around (1 left one each of 4 DPNs).
  15. Knit one round plain.
  16. Slip all sts to one DPN.
  17. Knit all sts, don't turn and slide to opposite end of needle (right) continue to knit and slide sts down to right end of needle until pumpkin stem is at desired length. Keep pulled tight.
  18. Bind off and cut a long tail.
  19. With tapestry needle slip the tail down the stem and tie off the tail in adjacent stitch inside the crown of the hat. Cut remaining tail.
  20. Tie off and weave in all remaining ends.
*Tip: Decreasing: If you want a larger green top, switch to green yarn earlier! I would not recommend switching to green yarn before you begin decreasing or hat may look funny.
**Tip: Switching to DPNs: I like to knit my last complete row right on to DPNs when I feel my stitches getting to tight on the circular.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wall Activity Center

Several months ago I fell in love with the Pottery Barn 'school house utility decor' - but did not want to spend $169 each on a chalk board, cork board, and paper roll dry erase board. So it was time to figure out how to make something similar myself. Since my kids are little and I didn't want tacks at their level I just did the chalk board and dry erase easel.

You will need:
  • 2 large dry erase boards, one large cork board (if you want to do all 3) - I used the board dudes black framed version so I didn't have to paint the frame, such as this.
  • Painters tape.
  • Chalk board spray.
  • Small curtain rod approximately 22" long with 2.5" bracket projections such as this (note this is not the one I used, nor have I purchased this one).
  • Paper roll - I bought the one from Ikea.
  • Drill with 1/4" drill bit, and long screws - for mounting, 4 each.
What I did:
  1. Tape the framed edges of one of the dry erase boards, spray evenly with chalk board spray - set aside and let dry.
  2. On the other dry erase board, mount the curtain rod brackets . I set mine 4" from the top.
  3. Drill a 1/4" (or sized to your screws) hole in each of the 4 corners of the boards. I placed mine 2" from the top and bottom. This will allow you to mount the boards without fear that it will fall down, and remove from wall without cracking frame. Go slow when drilling and use a firm even pressure.
  4. Mount boards to the wall, with screws - add paper roll to curtain rod and enjoy!
Variations: Paint the framed portion of the boards bright colors, or using plywood recreate the school house theme and paint. Add a ledge to the bottom of each board.

Have other questions or theme suggestions for this project? Leave me a message!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Alphabet Flash Card Wall Art!

I looked everywhere for alphabet wall art for my boy's playroom that was not going to cost $150 - the only thing I could find were teaching posters so, I decided I could make my own version for substantially less. Because I had items I could repurpose, I made this for under $30.

You will need:
  • A pack of flash cards, your choice. I used these.
  • Paint of your choice, I used some white interior wall paint we had around.
  • Small paint roller.
  • A frame with heavy backing (I repurposed an old piece of metal framed art from Ikea). You could also frame a piece of plywood to get the same effect - the frame should sit above the backing about a 1/4 inch to give an edge/lip for pouring the gloss finish.
  •  Spray adhesive.
  • Pourable resin finish (I used, "pour on" high gloss finish: HERE. Which gives the finished piece a glass like finish - be sure to check the measurements so you will have enough, once you start pouring you can't stop - mine was 4 square feet).
What I did:
  1. Paint the backing, the color of choice - let dry at least 4 hours. I did two coats.
  2. Measure and set flash cards with spray adhesive - let dry per adhesive directions. The measuring part is actually what took me the longest. I used measuring tape and a pencil to ensure the items were lined up.
  3. Mix the resin per package directions and pour, avoiding bubbles. Brush with a small foam paint brush to smooth evenly. Let dry at least 24 hours. If bubbles appear during the drying process you can pop them, avoid trying to re-spread the resin as it is now tacky.
  4. Hang and enjoy!
*Be sure to do this craft in a well ventilated area, such as a garage as the paint/spray adhesive and resin all have very strong smells - you also need to let this project sit for several days to ensure it is dry.

Let me know if you have any questions about this project!