Hey, look, I know things are a mess. I took a hiatus from blogging and decided to switch up my design before returning. Please be patient, because if you can wait out the mess it means REGULAR POSTING WILL RETURN SOON! :D


Friday, April 30

Mailbox Winner!

Thanks to everyone who participated!

The 2010 MS Walk

It’s almost time.
I try to participate in the MS Walk every year, in honor of my mother. It’s a cause that matters greatly to me. And I would love your help.
This year I’m hoping to raise at least $1,000. If all 328 of my Blogger followers gave just $4 that would be more than enough. See? Even small donations can make a big difference! So, if you’re able, please consider sponsoring me. Not able to donate? That’s OK. You can still help me out by blogging, tweeting, and sharing on Facebook. Any help at all will mean a lot to me, and to the MS Society.
I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me about the MS Walk a few more times between now and the date of my local walk. Consider this a “kick-off” post.
And, just FYI, I will make a blog signature for anyone who donates $10 dollars or more and provides a valid e-mail address in their online donation form. You’ll have to select the “name and amount” option to receive your free signature. Or, if you donate $15 dollars or more you can choose between a free signature or one month of advertising space on Domestic Dork {provide an e-mail address and select “name and amount”}. And everyone who donates {again, you’ll need to provide an e-mail address in the form”} has the option of being added to an “Honor Blog Roll.” The blog roll will be left in my sidebar for 3 months and then left indefinitely on the blog page {see the “blogs” button in my menu on the left}.
Thanks for reading this, and thanks in advance and from the bottom of my heart for any donations and/or help spreading the word.
Thursday, April 29

DIY Baby Doll Sling Tutorial


featured on Craft Gossip

I got my sewing machine set back up the other day {it’s been faaaar too long since last I sewed – my machine is broken so it’s a frustrating experience}. But I wanted to make something, anything really. So I decided to whip up a simple baby doll pouch sling for Lucy. I checked online and did find some how-to guides for making pouch slings. But I was feeling lazy and wanted something really easy. I didn’t want to have to adjust the measurements or do quite so many steps {even if it would make a nicer sling}. So I improvised.
At some point in the future I’ll probably make a nicer one {maybe once I have a working machine}. But in the meantime this gets the job done. And just in case you’re a lazy sewer too I present:
baby doll sling tutorial 
baby doll sling tutorial
First pick out your fabric. I just grabbed some from my fabric box. I estimated how long to cut it by wrapping it around Lucy {from hip to shoulder and back down to hip} but you could measure your child if you want. Then cut it longer than you think you need it to be. I cut mine about 6 inches wide. But just do what you think looks best for your kiddo. 
baby doll sling tutorial
Hem the long edges of your fabric strip. Make sure to fold over the right side {the pretty side of the fabric} and hem onto the wrong side {the back side, or ugly side of the fabric}. If you do it the opposite way the hemming seams will be on the outside of the doll sling and that won’t look nice.
baby doll sling tutorial
Fold the strip in half lengthwise making sure the wrong side is facing out.
baby doll sling tutorial
Sew the open ends together with a curved line. Then cut off the edges following the curve you’ve just sewn. In the above image the fold is to the left and the dotted line is what you’ll sew.
baby doll sling tutorial
Turn the sling right side out again and try it on your kiddo. If it fits, great! You’re all done. If it’s too big {and it probably will be because you cut it too long on purpose – better too big than too small!} then turn it wrong side out again and sew another curve next to the original curved seam. Then cut off the excess. Repeat until you’re happy with the fit.
See? Easy peasy! Just a few cuts, and a few lines of simple stitching. Enjoy! And if you make one of your own I’d love to see pictures so link ‘em in the comments!
By the way, these instructions are NOT suitable for a real baby carrier. Dolls only!
Tuesday, April 27

Final Wilton Class Cake

Alas, my Wilton cake decorating class has come to an end. For our final cake we tackled the “Wilton Rose.” They’re kind of fun actually, you know…when you don’t want to chuck your frosting bag across the room because you can’t get the petals just right. Anyhow, after getting all my roses on the rest of the cake just looked so empty so I did a tribute to one of my favorite Cake Wrecks.
orange Wilton cake decorating class rose
I have to admit, I totally cheated on this cake. We were supposed to do a shell and sweet pea border instead of a star border. But you know what? I hate shells. And I hadn’t had a chance to practice them since last class. So, as my table-mate in class put it, I was a “rebel.” Because there’s nothing like using the wrong border to really stick it to the man! Viva la cake revolution!
Anyhow…the roses…here they are.
orange Wilton cake decorating class rose
orange Wilton cake decorating class roseMy best one ended up buried on the bottom of the pile, so I did one more and it ended up being better than the one that got covered up. But then it got a little smooshed by the lid of my cake carrier. That’s it to the left. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to see the smooshage or not. Adam and our friend Liz didn’t seem to notice. So it’s all good. And here are a few more shots, just because I feel like it:
 orange Wilton cake decorating class rose  orange Wilton cake decorating class roseorange Wilton cake decorating class roseI finally figured out why I was getting so many little craters in my base coat of icing. And by “figured out” I mean I asked the teacher. Turns out I was over-mixing my icing. So this time my base coat turned out much better.  I went with an orange vanilla cake this time. It was OK. I think chocolate will always be my favorite {though the key lime cake we had at Lucy’s birthday and funfetti cake are yummy too}.
Anyway, I really, really enjoyed the class. And if supplies didn’t cost so freakin’ much I’d be signed up for the next course already. But for now, it will have to wait. In the mean time I have a LOT of leftover frosting with which I can practice those lovely roses and stupid shells.
What’s you favorite flavor of cake? Tell me in the comments.
Friday, April 23

Giveaway: Toy Mailbox!

Well, I promised a giveaway and here it is! CSN Stores is sponsoring this one. I especially love their toys and games site. They also have a furniture web store with some more great stuff for little ones like kid bedding and kid furniture. I was approached to do a review/giveaway and given the chance to browse the store for an item I’d like to review. The hardest part was choosing just one item. The pretend play items on their toy site are awesome {the play kitchen items, like the toy stand mixers, are adorable}! But, in the end, I chose this:
toy pretend mail mailbox giveaway
I even showed you how to make some cute pretend mail. I like this toy because
  1. It’s just small and adorable and
  2. It encourages pretend play.
At first Lucy was frustrated with it because she had trouble opening the little door. But we filled it with cat litter to weigh it down and now she can open and shut it no problem. My only complaint is that the box is a little small. If you make your pretend mail just a little smaller then mine that won’t be a big deal. Though, it would have been nice to be able to fit Lucy’s actual mail in it {sometimes she gets greeting cards and each month she gets a mini magazine called Wild Animal Baby – thanks Grandma!}. Other than that it’s great! It’s plastic, so it’s easy to clean and would be suitable for outdoor play {wouldn’t it look great outside a play house?}.
And now for your chance to win one!
Here are the rules {I’m keeping it simple this time}:
You must live in Canada or the US. And you must leave a comment on this post.
That’s pretty much it. Your comment can be about anything, how badly you want to win, what the weather is like where you are, whatever. I’m not picky. You can get one extra entry by blogging about the giveaway {leave a link to the POST, not to your blog homepage, in a separate comment to get the extra entry}.
I’ll use random.org to select a winner next week. I’ll close entries Friday morning and post the winner Friday afternoon {good way to kick off the weekend, no?}.
Good luck!

PLEASE NOTE: You must be able to be contacted through your post {either by leaving your e-mail or by having your blog linked through your name}. Anonymous entries will not count.

Tuesday, April 20

Clowns! *shudder*

So, this week in class we were making clown cakes. Clowns. Like this guy…
cake clown icing wilton
{image from Wilton.com}
And this guy isn’t so bad. But the photos of the example cake, well, they were kinda creepy. And you know what, if I have to make a creepy-ass clown cake then I’m gonna go ALL OUT.
 wilton cake class clown evil mocha
It says “Can’t sleep, Clowns will eat me!” And, may I just say, it’s pretty wilton cake class clown evil mochamuch impossible to get really black icing {red is no cake walk either…ha ha, cake walk, see what I did there?}. But, whatever. I still had fun in class, even if my colors were a bit disappointing. Did you notice the angry eyebrows? I added those myself with black nail polish, for that extra evil clown touch. I also piped a “666” on his back in red icing.
I feel this cake is more or less mediocre. And I’m OK with that. It was good practice and, more importantly, it is DELICIOUS. It’s a mocha cake with whipped espresso filling. OH MY GOD THE FILLING IS SO DELICIOUS! And it’s super easy to make. Here’s my recipe {which I created by improvising on a recipe I found online for a Kahlua filling because I didn’t have any Kahlua}.
Whipped Espresso Filling
1 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
whip until fluffy then fold in
1/2 package chocolate pudding mix
an equal amount powdered cappuccino mix and
2 tbs. espresso
whip until fully blended and fluffy
chill at least 30 minutes and try not to eat it all straight from the bowl
wilton cake class clown evil mocha
Enjoy! And if you decide to make it let me know what you think!

Please Mister Postman


Hmmm…what’s this? Envelopes? A marker?
toy mail craft project
Not just any envelopes, not just any marker…
toy mail craft projectDear readers, THESE are special play letters! That marker is a wet erase marker. And those envelopes are laminated. That means hours of fun imaginary play and, someday, practice for printing and addressing letters!
How did I make them? It was easy-peasy. I took some small, colorful note cards and envelopes I had lying around, added a few US stamps leftover from before we moved to Canada {and a few 2 cent Canadian stamps} then took ‘em over to Staples and asked for their sturdiest laminating job. While I was there I picked up some wet erase markers. And that’s all it took. Now, I’ve seen some pretty adorable felt play mail. But I like my way for two reasons:
  1. This mail can be addressed, cleaned off, and addressed again and again and again and again. How fun is that?
  2. My way was eeeeeeeaaaaaasy {no sewing}!
Why did I make them? Well, besides the obvious {hello! they’re adorable!} I made them because of this:
toy mail box mailbox play
How cute is this play mailbox? I’ll tell you. WAAAAAY cute!
It’s the perfect size for Lucy. And while it is pretty dang cute that she hides her toy chickens inside it I thought it was high time she had some proper mail to go in it.toy mail box mailbox play
It’s got a working door, and a working flag {that way the mail carrier won’t miss your outgoing mail – too bad Canadian mail carriers don’t seem to pick up outgoing mail. We have to drop it off at the Post Office, but I digress}.
I loaded all the letters in the box and closed it up. Lucy was immediately curious.
 toy mail box mailbox play toy mail box mailbox play
{Awww…my poor baby got a boo-boo a few days ago, right under her nose.}toy mail box mailbox play
I think she digs it. Were I to do it again I’d use slightly smaller envelopes. These just barely fit inside the mailbox. But it’s all good. I love them. And I love the mailbox. It even came with a few white stickers for writing an address or name. See Lucy’s name there on the side? I’m pretty much in love with how cute this toy is. I’m considering making a play house for Lucy just to go with it. Admit it. You love it too. You’re jealous…on behalf of your kid of course. ;)
Well, guess what.
One of you is getting one.
For free.
That’s right folks. I’m doing a giveaway, this week, compliments of CSN Stores*. So don’t miss it {it will be a separate post}! Closed.

*CSN stores provided me with the toy mailbox for the purposes of reviewing it. However  I had a wide variety of choices in toy to review and I personally wanted the mailbox for Lucy. Just FYI.
Monday, April 19

Organizing Your Daughter’s Massive Collection of Hair Clips

I like easy crafts ya’ll. And this was easy.
hair clip bow storage organize craft
Ha-ha! Did I break your scroll wheel? Sorry ‘bout that.
Anyhow, this is an easy-peasy project. You can get all the supplies at your local craft store. You’ll need:
  • a wooden letter or plaque or a picture frame!
  • acrylic paint {it doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just pick whatever color(s) you like} and a paintbrush
  • ribbon
  • a wooden shape {like these- your craft store probably has a whole aisle of shapes to choose from, some unfinished and some painted}
  • felt {optional}
  • hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
Once you’ve gathered your supplies here’s what you need to do:
  1. Cut your ribbon to your desired length. I chose a rainbow ribbon because when Lucy has her own room it’s going to be a “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” theme and I wanted to carry the sky motif over to her hair clip organizer.
  2. Paint your wooden letter your desired color. Alternatively you could decoupage it with pretty scrapbook paper or fabric. Let it dry.
  3. Prepare your wooden shape. This will serve as the weight for the ribbon. If it’s unfinished, paint it. If you’d like to cover it with felt, like I did you’ll need to follow the extra steps listed below.
  4. Attach the ribbon to both the letter and the wood weight with hot glue.
  5. Hang and enjoy! :)
Extra Instructions for Using Felt:
  • cut two rectangles of felt in your desired color that are big enough to cover the wooden weight with room to spare
  • attach the ribbon the the weight with hot glue
  • place the weight in between the two felt pieces and neatly hand stitch them together following the outline of your wood shape
  • trim the excess so it matches the outline you have stitched
  • continue to step 4 as listed above
That’s all there is to it. Like I said, easy-peasy!
It’s pretty easy to make your own hair clips too! I made the Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patty’s Day, and “hello” clippies in the picture. The rest were purchased at the dollar store, the local farmers’ market, or on Etsy {the top four flower clips were made by one of my sisters-in-law and her oldest daughter}. You can use grippy shelf liner on clips to help them stay in. And, just a hint, if your kiddo has fine, thin hair like Lucy you can use a thin, stretchy, fabric headband {like these or check the dollar store for something that’ll work}. You can clip alligator style hair clips to the headband {or the stretchy crochet hats} instead of to hair.
Lucy’s still not great at wearing hair clips or headbands. She’s so interested in looking at what I’ve just put on her head that she reaches right up and pulls them off. But at least she’s past the “you-are-a-horrible-mother-how-could-you-do-this-to-me-I-hate-headbands-waaaaaaaaaaah! stage.”
Does your daughter wear hear clips? Have you amassed a massive collection of them? Have you made your own organizer? Tell me about it in the comments.
Saturday, April 17

How Angmar Got His Name

We’re a geeky family, we are. In fact, we start the geeky indoctrination from day one.
geekynewborn {This was in the hospital. We hadn’t even brought Lucy home yet and Daddy was already reading The Lord of the Rings to her.}
So, it really shouldn’t come as any surprise that Adam has always known that if he ever owned a white car he’d call it Shadowfax. And just to help out you non-geeky types I’ll tell you who Shadowfax is. Shadowfax is the lord of horses. He makes his first appearance in The Two Towers. He’s the big, beautiful white horse that Gandalf rides {see clip below}.
{This was the best clip I could find.}
Well, we have one car. We bought it several years ago. And it’s not white. It’s black. So “Shadowfax” was out. “But,” we thought, “maybe we could stick with the whole ‘Middle Earth Horses theme.’” Problem is, there are no named, black horses in the LotR. Though, there are plenty of nameless, black horses…
lotr_movie_ringwraiths {image from Swashbuckler332}
Yup, these bad guys, known as Ringwraiths, Nazgûl, Black Riders, Dark Riders, the Nine, The Backstreet Boys, etc. have some mean-looking black mounts. And the baddest of these bad guys is this fellow right here:
witchking {image from Tolkien Forums}
The Witch-king of Angmar! *dramatic music goes here*
Do not piss this guy off. He will stab you. He will stab you with a Morgul-blade. You do not mess with the Witch-king of Angmar.
And since this dude rides a black horse, and we don’t know what his horse’s name* is, we used part of the dude’s “name” instead. And thus, our car was named Angmar.
But, just FYI, Angmar won’t stab you. He might pee coolant on you. But he won’t stab you.
*He probably would have named him a nice, friendly name like ‘Bill’ if somebody hadn’t already taken that name. I’m looking at you Samwise Gamgee!

Apparently You Shouldn’t Hear A Boiling Sound Coming From Your Engine

If your car regularly makes a squealing noise every time it starts don’t assume it’s just an “older car thing.” It’s not.
Yesterday our car Angmar peed coolant all over the pavement. Was it a leak? We drove straight to Canadian Tire to investigate {or rather, have them investigate}. Before we went in Adam popped the hood and took a quick look. Nope, not a leak…our coolant had boiled over. Not good.
The helpful Canadian Tire mechanic took a look, told us it could be any number of things, told us to come back first thing in the morning and he’d take care of us. He filled our now-empty coolant reservoir with water. He also warned us to pull over and let Angmar cool down if the engine heat indicator thingy* went into the red zone. We didn’t make it out of the parking lot before the needled hit red. We parked. We waited. We tried again. We didn’t make it a third of the way home before we could hear a terrible boiling sound. The needle had enthusiastically climbed back into the red and settled for the long haul. We pulled into the mall parking lot, parked, and caught a bus home.
This morning Adam caught an early bus so he could get back to the mall so he could attempt to drive Angmar back to Canadian tire.
No word yet on if he made it.

UPDATE: Here's the e-mail I got from Adam.
Everything is fixed up.  Turns out it wasn't the pump (so the squeaky noise is probably just a belt), it was the thermostat.  They replaced the thermostat, did an oil change, and we needed a new air filter.  Everything came to $230.
They checked for an oil leak to see why the oil was all gone, but didn't find any leaks.  Turns out Wal-Mart is just stupid and doesn't know how to do oil changes on Hyundai cars.  Apparently you have to fill up the oil, turn the car on for about a minute, turn it off then fill it back up because the car has to run to pull it in.  That's why last time we got an oil change they told us it was totally empty, because the time before had been from Wal-Mart also.

Anyway, the housing for the thermostat had warped from the heat, and he had to grind it back into a shape that would fit on, but he didn't charge us for that.

Also, we need to switch out the winter tires.  I forgot to ask how much that will cost.
*That’s the technical term us mechanically minded folks use.
Tuesday, April 13

CAKE! My First Wilton Class Cake

So, how did my cake class go?
Well, after an epic cake fail that ruined my second rainbow batter cake {don’t ask, I don’t want to talk about it} I ended up making a third cake. This time I went with the always lovable chocolate cake because I didn’t have the heart or the time to do the rainbow batter a third time. I didn’t even make it to class on time.
I pretty much hated my cake until I got to class and snuck a peak at some of my classmate’s cakes. Clearly I have some perfectionism issues to work on. Compared to my fellow beginners I’m doing just fine thank you. Anyhow, here’s the cake:
Wilton cake decorating class rainbow
Partway through the band of purple I realized I meant to do red on the top. But it was too a late to fix it. Here’s another shot:
Wilton cake decorating class rainbow
And here’s a close up, so you can see, in detail, the flaws in my base coat.
Wilton cake decorating class rainbow
Overall though, I’m happy with it. I gave it to our friend who just had a baby, a BEAUTIFUL baby girl. Sorry, I don’t have a picture of the baby. She was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake her with the camera flash. But trust me, she’s gorgeous! And I got to hold her! {Yes, be jealous!}
Next week I’m making a mocha cake, an evil mocha clown cake {I’ll explain later}. I’ll be sure to take pictures and report on how class went. Class this week went fairly well, and I enjoyed myself. But my hand is killing me. Parchment paper bags are evil. That is all.
Saturday, April 10

Test-Run Cake

Two days ago I make a test-cake. It’s a good thing I did. I’m going to need to double this particular recipe. Yesterday I did a test run on icing the cake {no decoration, just a base coat, so to speak}. It’s a good thing I did. I definitely need the practice. I have plans for the “real” cake, but shhhhh! It’s a secret. Don’t worry, I’ll reveal it soon. In the meantime, here are some photos of my uneven test run.
 rainbow cake wilton decorating class
Behold! A light blue lopsided circle! And when you cut into the cake?
rainbow cake wilton decorating class
RAINBOW! The red turned out perfectly, but the other colors need to be more saturated. I also need to have more batter because, even though it might be hard to tell from a photograph, the cake was way too short.
Anyway, this weekend I’ll have another go at baking the cake. And maybe the icing will turn out better the second time around. It’s definitely smoother than any cake I’ve done before, but there were still lots of imperfections, only some of which would have been covered by decorations had I practiced the design we’ll be doing on Tuesday in class.
Wish me luck!
Friday, April 9

Organizing Toys

The first key to keeping toys from taking over your house? Limit them. We try not to go overboard in the amount of toys Lucy has. Past that the best thing you can do is find an organizing system that works for you. Simplicity is the key. You don’t want it to be a hassle to put things away, or you’ll never bother sticking to your system. Here’s the system that’s working for us:
toy organizing organizationHere’s my lovely model in front of our Ikea shelves/tv stand in the family room. It’s an Expedit 4x4 {they have a lot of size/color options}. As Lucy has grown we’ve had to move our own items to higher and higher shelves {or storage shelves in another room}. She can reach items on the bottom 3 levels {except for the items in the blue and red boxes}. The red box is for library books. The blue box is for Wii accessories and games. We have a door that will go in the upper right corner to hide the mess of Wii cables but it hasn’t been assembled yet.
toy organizing organization
Here’s a close up on the toy shelves. The bins are a mix of Ikea products and bins we picked up at Walmart. I like using clear boxes because Lucy can easily see what’s inside. I made labels for each box by taking toy organizing organizationpictures of the contents. I cut out the pictures and affixed them to the boxes with clear vinyl {removable contact paper, which I buy from the dollar store}. She can’t read so picture labels were the obvious choice. But I also wrote the words on the pictures for future use when she’s learning to read.
It may not be worthy of a PB Kids photo shoot. But it works a lot better than dumping all her toys into one or two large bins. And it definitely looks better than no system at all. It was cheap and easy and Lucy loves getting boxes off the shelf and bringing them to us to open {she still hasn’t figured out how to open them herself}. All in all, I quite like it.
How do you organize your kids stuff, or your own stuff? Tell me about your system in the comments.
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