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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Robot 1st Birthday Party (DIY installment)

About two weeks ago i spent a ton of time putting together this post. It was beautiful. Apparently  I wasn't signed in while I was creating the post so it didn't save and when my son unplugged the computer I lost everything I had done. I got so fed up with the whole thing that I just resigned myself to not posting my links and recipes. Needless to say, I changed my mind. So, here are all the secrets behind my son's first birthday party, now you can host your own fool-proof Robot Birthday Party!

I just made a stencil (check out my tutorial here) and stenciled on blank greeting cards I had from the craft store. I also used this stencil to make Jude a t-shirt.

 I used the font "Fraulein" from to make all the signs and labels. I printed out the words on card stock and cut them out and then glued them onto colorful scrap book paper. For the big signs, I then strung the letters together with ribbon. Easy and CUTE!
I cut gear shapes out of foam core and spray painted them sliver. These got hung up around the house and on the front door. 

For cupcake toppers, I used some really cute robot stamp on some card stock and glued them onto toothpicks. 

 Call straws "Wires" and utensils "Tools," put them in cleaned out tin cans to add to the theme!

The Robot Photo Shop
We set up a photo booth. Guest were encouraged to pull out their cameras and phones and take some silly shots! I sewed a small casing in a yard of fabric and slid a dowel through it, then I tied some ribbon around the dowel and hung it up as a backdrop. Then I put some fun props (a chalkboard, a frame, some Mardi Gras beads, a tangle of Christmas lights, a robot mask with chalkboard mouth, and some funky party hats) on a small table with a sign that said "Go ahead, grab a prop and take some pics!" 

Here are some of the results.

The Fueling Station
AKA - The food!

Atomic Chili - Regular Chili
Assorted Parts - Chili Fixin's (sour cream, cheese, hot sauce, cheese, onions, jalapenos, Fritos)
Back Up Cables - Carrots and Celery Sticks (and other veggies)
Machine Oil - Pumpkin Pie Dip (recipe link below)
Nuts and Bolts - Chex Mix
Fuse Boxes - Grapes
Battery Cells - Bacon Wrapped Dates (recipe link below)
Sprokets - Bell Pepper Strips
Computer Chips - Regular Tortilla Chips
Mechanical Munchies - Salsa and Bean Dip (recipe below)
Loose Screws - Greek Pasta Salad (recipe below)
Antifreeze - Blue Cream Soda
Frozen Robots - Robot Ice Cubes (tutorial/recipe below)
Memory Cells - Cupcakes (recipe links below)

Here are some other ideas for food:
Robot Fuel - Drinks
Motor Oil - Drinks
Cables or Wires - Licorice Whips
Shockwaves - Cupcakes
Robot Parts - Decorate Your Own Cupcakes or Make Your Own Sundaes
Robot Screws - Cheese Curls

Pumpkin Pie Dip - Kitchen Simplicity (I added some powdered sugar and served with ginger snaps, but its super yummy with granny smith apples)
Bacon Wrapped Dates - YumSugar

Gluten Free, Blueberry Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Icing - Lemon Drop (These are so good. You would never be able to tell that they are gluten free!)
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing - Brown Eyed Baker
Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Icing - My Baking Addiction
# 1 Sprinkle Smash Cake Topper - kojo designs

Coco Butter Cream Recipe
Adapted from my mom's 1980's Betty Crocker Cookbook - this is my Go To chocolate icing recipe
(used to top half of the Vanilla Bean Cupcakes)

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/5 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 2 tablespoons milk

Cream the butter and the cocoa until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add vanilla and milk, beat until smooth. Add more milk until icing is spreading consistency.

Bean Dip Recipe
This recipe came from my dear Red Headed College Roommate

1 can re-fried beans, 32 oz. can (the big one)
1 tub sour cream , 12 oz. tub
1 packet ranch dressing mix (more or less depending on your taste)

Mix everything together in a large bowl. Chill for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips, Frito Scoops, or veggies.

Greek Pasta Salad Recipe

1 12 oz. box of curly bite-sized pasta (fuslli, girandole, cellentani, gemelli, etc...)
1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped (you want bigger pieces, so don't fine chop the pepper)
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped (same note)
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 medium cucumber, cut into bite-sized chunks
3/4 cup of Kalamata olives, cut into quarters
1, 16 oz can of chick peas, draned and rinced
1 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
About 1 cup (more or less according to your taste) oil and vinegar based Greek salad dressing (I used Newman's Own brand)

Cook the pasta to al dente according to the directions on the box. Mix everything together in a large bowl. Chill for at least an hour.

-Remember if you are making Loose Screws, you need curly pasta! Plus the curls provide a place for the dressing to rest and make the salad more flavorful
-This recipe would also be really good with salami chunks, pickled artichoke hearts, baby spinach leaves, red onion (My husband and I hate the taste of onion, so I almost never include it in my recipes), chunks of chicken
- I have made this recipe using just olive oil and balsamic or red wine vinegar as a dressing. Add some salt and pepper, garlic powder, and maybe some fresh oregano and you are good to go!

Robot Ice Cubes
Food coloring

Mix food coloring and water, pour into Chillbots tray and freeze until solid. Run upside-down under hot water before carefully popping Chillbots out of tray. Be very careful when popping these little guys out of the tray, I snapped off many a little claw hand.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Robot 1st Birthday Party (3rd installment)

I just couldn't resist putting up the Smash Cake progression. 

I used this recipe for a gluten-free blueberry cake with blueberry cream cheese icing. The cake turned out so yummy! Used the Chillbots ice cube trays to make little chocolate robots and keys to put around the sides. Used this tutorial from KoJo Designs for the #1 sprinkle cake topper.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Robot 1st Birthday Party (2nd installment)

Here is some more results of Jude's birthday party!

We created a Robot Photo Shop. 
Hung up a yard of cute fabric, and made and collected some fun props (including a chalk board, a tangle of Christmas lights, a big frame, and some party hats and a robot mask with a chalkboard mouth.) 

Here are some of the great moments that happened in our Robot Photo Shop...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sanity Tote Bag (Tutorial)

One of my very good friends from college recently made the very brave move to the Big Apple. (Check out her blog at ). Annie and I were the only Theatre Production majors in our class at school, therefore we were each others' biggest fan and biggest competition (though there wasn't much competition due to the fact that we were such good friends). We were even told by our professors that we should be friends and lean on each other, we took this advice to heart. Annie and I quickly adopted the nickname "Sanity" and started using it to address each other.

When I heard that Annie was moving to New York (just picking up and going!) I was jealous, proud, excited, impressed, and excited. She would now be only three hours away instead of 24. She is living the dream (living on couches and eating Ramen Noodles and peanut-butter) in the City that Never Sleeps.

I wanted to give her something that would be useful but also comforting. Something that she could use in her daily life of job searching and Subway riding. A tote bag seemed the perfect option.

You will have to forgive me. I don't have a picture for every step because I got rushed trying to finish the bag before Annie arrived so I forgot to take pictures. Hopefully the instructions will be clear enough, if not just send me a message and I will help you though the tutorial.

Sanity Tote Bag (Tutorial)

What you will need:

  • A bunch of different complimenting cotton fabrics for the stripes. Fat quarters are perfect for this project! 
  • 1/2 lining fabric (don't get the silky fabric used for lining clothing, you just want a quilting cotton fabric)
  • 1/2 quilting cotton fabric for the main body of the bag
  • 1 yard medium weight fusible interfacing
  • 40 inches of 1/2" bias tape (or make our own with this tutorial)
  • The Usual Stuff (sewing machine, hand sewing needle, fabric scissors, straight pins, matching thread, rotary cutter and mat, square ruler, etc...)

Cut the strips for the stripes. This is the same technique that I used to make my Patchwork Rice BagCut the complimenting cottons into strips of 1 ½”, 2” and 3”. The easiest way to do this is with a rotary cutter. Fold your fat quarters in half, making sure to line up all the edges. Then stack one on top of the other, again making sure to line up all the edges. Check out this tutorial from Purl Bee for more info on cutting with a rotary cutter.

Once you have cut all the strips you will need, around 13-20 total, mix them up in a pile or a small bag. This way you will get a random pattern. Stitch your strips together, using a ¼” seam allowance.

Once you have all of the strips sewn together press all the seams to one side. This is now going to be referred to as the “patchwork fabric.”

Outside pockets (the orange fabric) - 10"x18" cut 2
Stripes - 7"x18" (cut on a 45 degree angle) cut 2
Inside pocket - 12.5"x13"
Inside lining - 18"x15" cut 2
Outside lining - 8"x18" cut 2
Straps - 3"x33" cut 2
Interfacing - 18"x15" cut 2

Stitching It Up!
Use a 1/2" seam allowance unless otherwise noted.

Stitch the stripes to the outside lining along the 18" side. Iron the fusible interfacing onto this piece of the bag, just follow the instructions that came with the interfacing.

Attach the bias tape to the 18" side of the outside pocket. Hand embroider "Sanity" or your name. Check out this video on how to stitch a back stitch. Don't worry if its not perfect embroidery that's the charm of this bag! Using chalk or another fabric marking device, draw a line down the middle of the outside pocket piece. It should be dead center, so 9" from each side. This will be your stitch line a little later.

Lay the outside pocket on top of the outside lining/stripes piece. They should line up at the bottom and the outside pocket should overlap the stripes so you can't see the outside lining. Using a basting stitch, stitch around the three outside edges of the outside pocket. Stitch down the middle on the stitch line you drew. Make sure to back tack with this one.

With right sides together stitch the two outside pieces together around three sides. Trim the corners, turn right sides out, and press.

Fold the inside pocket in half so that it measures 12.5" x 6.5". Stitch around the non-folded edges, leaving a area for turning. Trim the corners. Turn the pocket right side out and press, tucking in the raw edges. Using chalk, draw lines for where you will stitch later on the pocket. These pockets will be 4.5" wide (for a cell phone), 5.5" wide (for a small notebook), and two 1" wide sections (for pens and pencils).
Pin this pocket to one the inside lining pieces. It should be about 3.5" from the top of the piece (the 18" part) and 3" from the sides. The folded edge should be the top and the open space you left for turning should be pined closed. Top-stitch around three sides leaving the top open. Now stitch over the lines that you drew for the pockets.
With right sides together stitch the two lining pieces together around three sides. Trim the corners, leave it inside out and press.

Fold the 3"x33" fabric for the straps in half long ways. Stitch up the long sides of the strips creating three tubes. Trim the seams to 1/4". Pin a safety pin to one end of one of the tubes, only pin through one layer of fabric. Feed the safety pin back through the tube to turn it right-side out. Just keep scrunching up the fabric around the pin until the pin comes out the other end of the tube, then keep pulling the pin through until all the tube is right-side out. (These pictures are from my Beach and Imagination Tent tutorial)

Press the tube. Fold the tube in half long ways and press again. Pin if you want to, I didn't because my fabric was staying folded pretty well. Stitch right on the edge of the fabric to keep the edges together, hopefully the photo will illustrate what I mean. Do the same thing for the other strap.

Pin the straps to the outside fabric piece. The straps should be 4.5" from each side. The straps' raw edges should be in line with the raw edge of the top of the bag. Baste these in place.

With right sides together, put the lining fabric inside the outside fabric. The straps should be on the inside of this sandwich too. Stitch around the top of the bag leaving a 3" hole for turning. Turn the whole thing right-sides out and press (making sure to press the raw edges you left for turning inside so they are no longer hanging out).  Top stitch around the top making sure to back stitch and the beginning and end. 

That's it! Hope you get creative and make one of these bags for yourself or for a friend. It would make a great Christmas gift!