Crayon Holder!

You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to make one of these things. It’s just never seemed very practical seeing as most packs of crayons have at least 16 and that is a lot of little slots and a long roll to lug around. But these are dry erase crayons that only come in eight colors, making it actually practical and necessary.

I even included space for the cleaning cloth and the crayon sharpener. Much neater than the plastic bag everything was just thrown in before. Plus, I labeled it so it won’t get confused with all the non-existent crayon holders.

(Sorry for the blurriness. I could’ve sworn that was in focus when I took the picture.)

I used some of the leftover fabric from the bicycle I refurbished a few weeks ago, some elastic, and some buttons I had taken off a pair of shorts that had to be retired to the trash can when they ripped to pieces. The words are just written in my trusty chalkboard markers, with a few layers to make it actually stand out.

Impromptu, Uneccessary Gloves

I picked up a lovely (now discontinued) skein of Chroma in Buttermint with my last Knitpicks order and was looking for something to make. Then I found these puff stitch gloves.

They call for an 8-ply yarn, but Chroma just so happened to be a 4-ply yarn. For the math-challenged, that means I could hold the yarn doubled to make it exactly the right weight. The pattern also includes the puff-stitch, which was a new-to-me stitch, so it made it a learning opportunity as well.

The Chroma yarn is really soft and fluffy, which made it nice to work with. It also bloomed nicely when I blocked it so the gloves themselves are extra soft.

They are really comfy, except not exactly wearable. Don’t get me wrong, I will probably be wearing them all fall long. But it is nowhere near fall temperatures here. That’s right, I just made a pair of fuzzy, wool gloves right before an over-100° heat wave. It’s so hot they had baseball practice with water balloons on Saturday and cancelled soccer practice today to keep the kids from melting in the park. So these will stay in my drawer for a bit longer before they actually get used.

You can find slightly more technical details on these on their Ravelry project page.

Icing The Trash Truck (Birthday Cake Semi-Tutorial): Part 2

So yesterday we baked a cake. Now it’s time to frost and decorate.

We have two sheet cakes that were left to cool all afternoon, now we have to truck-ify them. Yes, that’s a word. A word I just made up. Anyway, starting with one cake, cut the corners off one short side and the top of the other. Cut the other cake in half and place it next to the first cake. Now take a circular cookie cutter that seems like a good size for the wheels and cut two wheel wells into the body of the truck and one into the front. Then cut three wheels from the remaining half-cake and put them into place. Also, cut the front at a slight angle to create the windshield.

Now is time to make the frosting to hold this thing together.

Again, gather your ingredients. Then, start by measuring out your powdered sugar, your shortening, and add another 1/4 cup of sugar because you accidentally used a 1/4 cup rather than the 1/3 cup measure you meant to grab. Here’s where I changed it up again, I used 1 teaspoon of strawberry extract rather than the vanilla called for in the recipe. Like the recipe says, this looks nothing like icing at the beginning, but let the mixer run and it will soon smooth out.

Now you can mix in colors and “glue” all the pieces together with it. You want to thin it out and make a crumbcoat first. That has to sit overnight at least. Then you will also thin out the icing you use as your base color.

Make more icing, using the original vanilla flavor this time, to use for decorating. I used the “grass” tip to add texture to the wheels, a flat tip to fill larger spaces, and a number 2 tip for piping lines. Here’s the end result:

The icing sweat because it had been kept in the refrigerator overnight, but other than that it turned out perfectly. It’s still really delicious, and it is now nearing a week old.

Trashy Birthday Cake (A Semi-Tutorial) – Part 1

And I mean trashy in the best way possible. As in a trash truck shaped cake for a trash truck obsessed two-year-old. Before we jump in, perhaps I shall explain what I mean by a semi-tutorial. Basically, it’s my way of telling the story of how I baked this cake in a way that maybe helps you avoid any mistakes I made along the way, or at least let’s you point and laugh at me. I used two easily available recipes for this project: Hershey’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake Recipe and Best White Icing Ever Recipe. I’ll make a note of any changes as I go along.

First, let’s bake the cake, as I did on Saturday afternoon.

You have to start by prepping the pan. Since I was making two sheet cakes and only had one 9×13 inch pan, I used parchment paper to make liners so i could just switch from one cake to the other without having to clean the pan in between. Plus, it helps the cake come out easier.

Detailed Steps:

  1. Grab a pencil, your pan, some parchment paper, and a ruler if you want to be more precise. I had intended to actually measure things, and then just decided it was easier to trace the whole thing and shove the results in the pan.
  2. Tear off a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover your pan with at least two inches overlap on each side (considering the pan is usually 9x13x2 inches).
  3. Trace (or draw with your ruler) the bottom and sides of the pan as if you were peeling the pan apart at the edges.
  4. When you cut the paper out, don’t cut off the tabs created on the short ends. Instead, use them to wrap around so there won’t be any holes for cake batter to seep into the pan.

Once you have your pan ready, preheat the oven and grab your ingredients. This is the place where I differed from the cake recipe. Rather than peppermint, I just used dark chocolate chunks. But otherwise I kept all the ingredients the same.

Start by stirring your “wet” ingredients together: the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. While that is stirring in the mixer, you can move on to the dry ingredients which I always like to put through the sifter.

You could also just stir them in a bowl with a whisk, but that is less fun. Now it’s time to add the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl that has now been running way longer than the three minutes or so the recipe suggested, alternating with the water. Don’t worry about my cloudy water in that picture. The measuring cup I was using did not have 1 1/3 marked so I filled it to 1 and added 1/3 using the same cup as I had used to measure the cocoa powder. We don’t have cloudy water coming out of the pipes.

Once you have that all stirred together and you stir in the chocolate chunks that have been forgotten in the window and are starting to get quite soft, it’s time to pour the batter into the pan, wash all the dishes, and start over again to make the batter for the next cake while it bakes. Then you can let both cakes cool on the counter, continually checking over you shoulder to make sure the dog doesn’t jump up and decide to eat them, all afternoon while you feed, clean, and play with the soon-to-be-birthday-boy who has no idea why he smells cake but doesn’t get to eat any.

Now that we have the cakes ready, we can decorate them. And by that I mean combine them into one and decorate it. But I will save that for tomorrow since this is getting incredibly long.

Old Is New Again

This bike started with the godparents’ oldest boy, then was handed down to the now-five-year-old who never really used it, and now has been passed to the just-yesterday-turned-two-year-old. It needed some love. So I took it apart,

cleaned it up and gave it a nice coat of paint. Not to mention de-rusted the bolts. Some of those things were so rusted I couldn’t budge them without about half a can of WD-40. (Well, the generic version of it from Ace Hardware.)

Anyway, I asked the birthday boy what colors to paint it. His response was “lellow” and “geen”, so here’s what it looks like now:

New, fluffy seat covered with weatherproofed cotton, clean bolts and sealed paint. Much more fun to get excited about riding than the old one.