Monday, December 31, 2012

Pirate Dinner Theater

Saturday night we did a sisters' night to celebrate our birthdays for which we'll be apart. It was also our last night all together before Lydia went back to Atlanta. We discussed many options of things to do and landed on the Pirate Adventure Dinner Theater to create a more memorable night, since we'd never been even though we've lived in Orlando all our lives.

It was fun to get all dressed up for something. This was the first time I used the diffuser in six months at least. I'm kinda like that. 

We were part of the yellow team (notice the yellow wall behind us).

Lydia was hand-picked to be part of a game. Here she is with our yellow pirate, our champion, Antonio.

Lydia just finished waving the yellow flag. Then she threw bean bags to the pirate up on a deck. 

We got a group ticket deal, so with tax, parking ($5/car) and tips ($5/person), we paid about $50/person. The larger the group, the lower the per-person price. I thought it was a good deal though, because:

1. The show was really great. It's a little hokey, but fun. Just clap, cheer, and be jovial. The songs were fun. The acrobatics are really cool. I mean, really, really cool. Plus, the pirates are all muscular and attractive! Haha! But seriously. The actors really get into their characters, which is fun when they interact with the audience.

2. The food was great. You get appetizers (veggies, chicken salad, carving stations), two rounds of beer and/or endless soda, salad, chicken or beef dinner with three sides, and dessert. All of it was very tasty. I kind of expected the food to be meh, but I was impressed and stuffed by the end.

3. The ambiance is cool. The appetizer room or waiting area looks like a town square, and the dining room has a giant ship/stage that's awesome. I'd even call it a Disney-quality design.

4. The service was wonderful. Everyone's very helpful and nice.

It was very family-friendly. I'd like to take Daisy back in about 6 years. It's great for anyone who likes pirates (it's not scary at all), live performances, acrobatics, or dinner shows. It's not something we'd do every weekend (because we aren't made of money), but it was perfect for our memorable sister evening.

Bonus: Lyd and I knew two of the actors because that's what happens when you're well-networked in O-town.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


A restaurant review. 

This week Zane and I tried out a local restaurant called Ravalia's Pasta Bar and Italian Rotisserie. We had an excellent experience! 

The restaurant has a cute, fresh, and clean atmosphere. Some hole-in-the-wall places feel dirty or old, but this restaurant was really clean and crisp. Even the bathroom was pleasant. 

The food was delicious. We had a rolled pizza dough rolleta or something (it's not on the online menu, and I can't remember what it was called). There was plenty of it to split and fill us both up. I didn't feel like we had to wait that long for it, but apparently we did, because one of the employees came out and gave us free side salads for our wait! That was the cherry on top of the sundae, making me really like this restaurant's customer service. 

While we were trying to decide what to eat, another customer ahead of us was ordering. He overheard us discussing menu options and said, "Everything is good here!" He recommended the pasta which is made fresh right behind the counter. We'll have to go back and try it!

The price is good. Our calzone-type thing was about $8.00, and we were able to split it! Check their website for the full menu. 

The employees are super friendly and helpful. It looked like the owner's family came in while we were there. The wife complimented our baby (you get lots of points for that!) and the husband thanked us for coming in. 

We had a great time!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Daisy's First Christmas

Christmas came and went in its usual chaotic nature. I sometimes wonder if I'd like a quiet Christmas, but after so many big family ones, I might actually be sad to have a quiet one. As Daisy gets bigger, Christmas is just going to keep getting more crazy and busy, especially if kids get added to the family. I guess that's part of what makes Christmas fun. 

We went to the Christmas Eve service at FB Winter Park, and Daisy did well until about halfway through some of the music. I thought maybe it was her diaper, so I took her to the bathroom. No changing station (because apparently there's a nice baby/mom room that I missed), so I laid her on the counter top. However, this bathroom counter was festively decorated with nutcrackers, Christmas trees and fake snow. Daisy wanted to eat them all. I had to move all the decorations to the other side of the bathroom, change her (diaper was bone dry, dang it!), and put them all back. 

That's a mom experience. Someday, I'll write a comedy screenplay called The Mom Experience. It'll be full of situations like, "Where's the changing table?" and "I didn't bring the burp cloth," and "She only a pooped a little on my shirt." 

Anyways, after that we stood in church foyer with all the other babies. It was baby town back there. 

Christmas morning started with a little family Christmas where she received her tutu. Then we went to my mom's for round two of presents. Daisy was actually pretty interested in opening her gifts. She liked the bows and tissue paper. After breakfast, we headed back home for round three of presents with Zane's parents. Let's just say, Daisy banked this year.

I'm glad Daisy is too young to be materialistic, but I'm also kind of concerned about future Christmases.  Parents, what do you do to help ward off materialism at Christmastime?

Despite how busy the morning felt, the afternoon/evening was full of relaxation and fellowship. Zane's parents joined my family for a nice big family lunch at my grandma's house. It was really special to have both our parents at the same holiday gathering. Over all, it was a sweet day, and I look forward to future Christmases as our family evolves. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Five More Handmade Christmas Gifts

My lofty goal of blogging tutorials on each of my handmade Christmas presents is slipping away like 2012. Instead, here's quick overview of the rest of the handmade gifts I gave this year with links to the tutorials that I either used for inspiration or followed exactly. 

1. Tutus for Daisy

These are super simple to make. I kind of figured this one out on my own, but there's a handy tutorial found at The Ribbon Retreat here

2. Watermark Tees for my sisters.

These were very well-received. I got this from Sweet Verbena's post on UCreate found here. Hers turned out much sharper than mine, which are more abstract-looking. If you can read it, then I think you'll get a good chuckle. My sisters both did. 

3. Daisy handprint ornaments for her grandmas.

Sorry this photo is kind of blurry, but it's the only one I have on my computer, and I don't want to go do a photo shoot of the ornaments right now. I got this tutorial off pinterest for a baby footprint garden stone: The Imagine Tree. The only thing I did differently is a handprint (obviously), and I painted the area around the hand a different color, which made the hand part pop out nicely. 

I did this impression of Daisy's hand in either late October or early November, and her hand is already bigger than the whole ornament! 

4. Infinity Scarf for sisters

This is another Sweet Verbena tutorial. These are SO easy to make. You can easily crank out several of these in a one sitting. The tutorial is here. 

5. Bow Tie Top for sisters. 

Yet another Sweet Verbena project. The tutorial is called the Simple Bow Tie Top. Bah! "Simple" yeah, right. I had a hard time with this one. I ran into several problems making these, so I had to rip out lots of stitches, and I would totally have given up on this if I hadn't bought all the materials and if it wasn't a gift. The tutorial looks so EASY! 

If you missed my other handmade gift posts, you can find them here with links to more tutorials: 

I hope you all had a great holiday season. We had a fantastic Christmas with Daisy, but that's another post for another day. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Freezer Paper Stencil Shirts

I've seen freezer paper stencil stuff all over the blog world the past couple years. I decided to finally try it this Christmas for gifts. I came up with several simple design ideas and one complicated one: 

My grandfather is a big Free Cell champ, so I thought the FC man would be perfect. I blacked in most of the design (his shirt) and still messed up his curly hair, but the main theme remains. Be careful when you choose your designs! It can get tedious fast when using an exacto knife to cut out the stencil. 

Here are my other designs. I did these for some of the men of the family. Zane helped me brainstorm design ideas.
Daisy watching me paint the shirts.

Getting ready to paint the oak tree. The Free Cell man is painted in the background. 

I didn't do a tutorial for you, because I basically used this tutorial from Dana Made It. It was a fun project, and since I have a whole roll of freezer paper now, I'll probably eventually make more. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Secret Book Box

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone had a lovely day yesterday. I can finally post about my DIY Christmas gifts that I gave this year, since they've all been distributed to their recipients. 

Let's start with the secret book box that I made for my bro-in-law. 

Phase 1: Carving out the insides of a book. 

I got the Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen at a used bookstore for $4.00. I didn't know who Ibsen was when I purchased it. I specifically chose a guy who I hadn't heard of to avoid destroying a classic, but apparently I'm just uncultured. I destroyed a classic. 

Materials Needed for Phase One: 
Old book
Knife sharpener
(You don't need glue, clips or sharpie. I was over-zealous with materials)

Phase 1, Step 1: Measure and trace a rectangle on the first page of the book. I left about 1/2 to 3/4 inch around the edge. 

Phase 1, Step 2: Hold the book firmly with pages stacked evenly and cut along the line.

I only cleanly cut about 6-10 pages at a time this way. But the blade would partially cut additional pages, which is when you can use the scissors to finish up a page if the box cutter already started it pretty well. I also used scissors to clean up/even up my edges and corners. 

Phase 1, Step 3:  Close the pages and use the box cutter to cut along the edge of the carved-out interior. Finish up any partially-cut pages with the scissors. Repeat until the entire book is carved-out. 

Important: I sharpened my knife between every repetition of this step. It made all the difference!

That is by FAR the most tedious part of this project. It took me three consecutive hours of cutting to carve out the entire book, and it's not even that thick of a book. If I ever do this again, I might try a different knife. 

Save the pages for another project! There are tons of crafts that require book pages. 

Phase 2: Securing the secret box. 

Materials Needed for Phase 2:
Wood glue
Old paint brush
Wax Paper
Hot glue/glue gun

Phase 2, Step 1: Using an old paint brush, paint the interior of your carved pages wood glue (I used Titebond II). I really saturated the pages. Get the corners well and make sure every part of the inside is covered in wood glue. 

Phase 2, Step 2: Lay a piece of wax paper on top of the carved-out box and close book so the wax paper can protect the cover of the book from gluing to the box. Place on a table with a heavy box/book on top and let sit for 24 hours. The glue needs to dry and cure, and the weight keeps all the pages in place. 

Phase 2, Step 3: After 24 hours, open the book and peel off the wax paper. Cut a piece of felt like so, to line the box. Cut a little bit at a time and keep testing the fit to make sure you have the right measurements.

Phase 2, Step 4: When you've got the right felt shape, hot glue it to the inside of the book. I recommend gluing it in this order: bottom, short sides, long sides. 

This is after I glued the bottom and short sides and was about to glue the long side. 

I also added a tiny strip of felt in each corner to cover the pages of the book completely. 

Phase 2, Step 5: Trim the excess felt from the top so the book closes evenly.

And you're done! Secret book box!

This box is hiding... 

Sewing pins! 

Maybe you can find a better use for it than pins. I'm sure my brother-in-law will. A secret book box is so fun!

Update: I just found another DIY post on the blogosphere on this type of project. She did it a little differently, and I might try her method of drilling holes in the corners if I ever do this project again. Here it is: Our Small Town Idaho Life. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Season Fun

It's Christmastime! I haven't always been a fan of Christmas. There are many stressful things associated with the holiday (gift-giving...I'm a seriously self-conscious gift-giver), but this year has been fun. Here's a little glimpse into our December so far: 

We decorated the house!

We went to Jamaica for a few days!

Daisy was an amazing traveller, sleeping on the plane, napping on mommy by the pool, playing in the sand. I thought she'd like the water best, but apparently she's a sand-girl. She LOVED the sand. We got some great short videos of her raking her fingers through the gritty goodness and making her version of sand angels. 

We had a fantastic time!
It was beautiful, mon!
I was a little sad to leave Jamaica, but more excited to get home to see my sister who's visiting from China. She lives across the world full-time these days. We have her home for the holidays for the first time in nearly two years!

She's wearing her Pushing Daisies shirt! Pun intended!

We finally took a four generations picture this week. Daisy even waved at the camera. It's mind-blowing to think about how each of us carried and birthed our daughters. Someday Daisy may have a daughter, and she can experience this miracle of bearing life. I've seen a four generations photo where my grandma was the youngest one, and someday we might take a four generations photo where I'm in my grandma's spot. It's crazy. Life.... my mind just exploded.

Daisy's saying hello!

My other sister and bro-in-law are in town now too! So we're having all kinds of family fun times. Lots of games, jigsaw-puzzling, movie-watching, baking, and general fun-having.

The baking is leading to new year's eating/exercise resolutions for me. My body is reaching it's capacity of Christmas cookies. Yum!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Three Hats and a Lace Stocking

It's been busy up in here for the past month or so. I finally finished home-made Christmas, but I can't share my projects with you until next week.

I originally envisioned each of these projects being different blog posts, but in an effort to save time (precious nap time), I'm consolidating! I bought 2/3 yard of green fleece for this monster hat craft from On Hand By Hand. The tutorial is here. They're SO cute! I made two matching hats for my sweet little cousins, one who was born last month. I tried to make an infant size, but they're both kind of big for kiddies.
Daisy and I had some fun trying them on before I mailed them off. 

I totally forgot to include a card, but luckily, my cousin figured it out. Here's baby Felix modeling his monster hat. 

I guess he'll grow into it. 

2. I had PLENTY of leftover fleece from that project (note to whoever makes monster hats after reading this post). Since Daisy doesn't have a stocking, I decided to make her one with the leftover fabric.

I was going to do an entire stocking tutorial, but ain't nobody got time for that. I basically copied the design from Zane and my stockings. I accidentally made it face the wrong way at first, which resulted in tearing out stitches, but that's my sewing life anyways. 

I think the final product turned out quite nicely.

3. Lastly, I STILL had leftover fleece fabric, so I altered the monster hat pattern to made this cute little frog hat. I have a slew of ideas for other alterations to the pattern including an owl, princess hat, and mushroom hat. Maybe someday I'll find time for those! 

All three of these were pretty quick projects that I was able to start and finish in a couple naps. I thought they'd take longer, but I was happy to get them all done in about two days. With just one baby, I can still manage to get some crafting done. Stay tuned for the reveal of some of my hand-made Christmas gifts next week. 

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Steelers Diaper Cake

This weekend was my friend's baby shower. I got to be part of the shower-planning committee for her, and part of my contribution was a diaper cake. I did some Pinterest research in diaper cake-making, but there's really not much out there for tutorials (that I found). I saw several different designs, which was enough for me to figure it out on my own. 

Basically, you start with a bunch of diapers. I bought a 192-pack of size 1's, but I only used about 90 diapers. I rolled each diaper into a little cylinder and bundled them with a rubber band: 

Top Tier
The top tier was the easiest, because you can hold them all and bind it at once. The second two tiers, I used larger rubber bands and added rolled-up diapers into the middle of the bundle until it grew and grew. I had to re-roll some of them and re-organize them to make it a snug fit, but it wasn't as tedious as I thought it would be. 

Top Tier: 7 Diapers
Middle Tier: 26 Diapers 
Bottom Tier: 56 Diapers

It was a sports-themed shower, and this baby's dad is a huge Steelers and Tarheels fan, so I knew I wanted to incorporate one or both of those teams. I thought I would cover each tier with black or Tarheel blue, and then put an emblem on the front of each tier, BUT when I got to the fabric store, they had Steeler fabric! I dropped the Tarheels idea and went full-on Steelers. 

I bought 1/2 yard of fabric and cut it in half longways, then cut the strips into three pieces: 
Top Tier: 15''
Middle Tier: 30''
Bottom Tier: 45''

Then I covered each tier. I used silver-topped straight pins (like the ones you get with mens' collared shirts) to pin the circumference edge. The pins were barely visible on the outside of the cake. 

Then I pinned the top of the fabric into the diapers, folding it over ever couple inches. The top of the tier needs to be covered pretty well. I left a little space of exposed diapers where the next tier would cover it. 

The bottom can just barely cover the diapers: 

Then I made a little cake-topper football out of felt, stuffed it and pinned it on top. It was fun to make and everybody loved it at the shower. Hope this helps if you want to make one of these too!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Plush Christmas Tree

Four years ago I got the idea to make this craft from a similar stuffed Christmas tree that my coworker brought into the office to decorate for the Holidays. I bought the fabric a year later. This year I finally made it! 

I made two: one for me and one for my neighbor.

I was going to blog a step-by-step tutorial, but I was totally figuring it out as I went, so I skipped photos and made too many mistakes for a proper tutorial. If I make more, I'll show you in detail how to do everything. Basically, I made two Christmas tree pillow-sacks (how else do you describe this?):

Then I sewed them together down the middle and stuffed the four pockets. 

I have a whole list of things I'll do differently next time to make this a smoother process, but it was fun to figure it out and make little toy Christmas trees for Daisy and Ella!