Friday, January 31, 2014

Windy City & Twin Cities: Things To Do

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I am doing a bit of a blog swap with Kendra over at Thornton Travel in Chicago.  She invited me to work on a collaborated project where we both discuss the things we love to do in our hometowns.  Here is what Kendra had to say about Chicago:

The Windy City is a great place to live. As a travel enthusiast, I love that my hometown is also a great place to visit. There’s a story that says that locals tend not to go and see nearby attractions, but for me that is certainly not true. Chicago has a lot to offer, and I enjoy taking advantage of the many things to do, see and eat here.
1. See Sculptures in the Windy City
I love art. One of the greatest places to see art for free in Chicago is along the Michigan Avenue Bridge. This bascule bridge extends the famous avenue across the primary branch of the Chicago River into downtown. The bridge itself is a must-see. The landmark also boasts several famous sculptures and otherworks of art that make it a great place to visit.
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2. Get Water Logged in the Windy City
You don’t have to experience Chicago’s lake-effect snow to appreciate the city’s relationship to water. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, my city has been shaped by the water in many ways. One of my favorite ways to enjoy the water is with a visit to Shedd Aquarium. Located on Chicago’s Museum Campus near the lake, the aquarium houses over 1,500 species of marine life. Their Beluga Encounter provides visitors the opportunity to come face-to-face with a majestic beluga whale. (
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3. Check Out the Windy City Skyline
Few skylines are as famous as Chicago’s. It features three of the country’s five tallest buildings. Two of the most iconic buildings here are the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Center. When picking a place to stay in the Windy City, be sure to select one where you’ll have a great view. There are plenty of hotels to choose from, luxury and historic, to budget and modern, there is something for everyone and every family.
4. Eat at a Windy City Diner
If you love diner food and Milk Duds, you’ll fall in love with Lou Mitchell’s. This iconic local diner serves up some of the best all-American food in the Windy City. While eating out in Chicago can be expensive, it never is here. As an added bonus, they always distribute Milk Duds to the kids and the ladies. This tradition started years ago when a friend and customer of Uncle Lou first invented the candy.

Of course, you can see, do and experience plenty more in my city. I always recommend coming more than once to get in as much sightseeing, shopping and exploring as possible. I hope you can visit soon.

Thank you Kendra!  We enjoyed hearing about Chicago.  It has been a few years since I was there last.  Lake Michigan sure adds beauty to the cityscape.  Now to tell you a little bit about my hometown, otherwise known as the Twin Cities area, or Minneapolis/St. Paul. 

Credit: Wikimedia Commons / PhotosByJeremiah
My family has only lived here a few months, so at times I still feel like a tourist when I am out and about.  Minneapolis/St. Paul area has it all.  They have history, architecture, night life, family fun, and events for any pallet.  We have first class restaurants and premiere shopping.

Forbes named Minneapolis #1 for America's Top Healthiest Cities.  There are parks, biking and running paths woven through the whole metropolitan area and suburbs.  Here are a couple main points that make the Twin Cities an amazing place to visit.

1.  Art and Theater
The Twin Cities area of Minnesota has arguably the best art scene between the East and West coasts.  They host world renowned theaters, such as the Guthrie and the Ordway Theaters, as well as more intimate settings such as The Children's Theater and the Chanhassen Dinner Theater.  Minneapolis/St. Paul also support dozens of art, cultural, and science museums, large ballets, dance and fold companies, filmmakers groups and more.  If you are in the mood for culture, you will certainly find it in the Twin Cities.  Some of our favorite museums are the Walker Art Center, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Minnesota History Center.

2.  Getting Reacquainted With Nature
If  green is your scene, Minneapolis/St. Paul is the location for you.  All around and through the cities are thick patches of tall, bushy trees and lush green grass intertwined with bike and walking paths for the residents and visitors to enjoy.  Deemed Land of 10,000 lakes, The Twin Cities carry on Minnesota's mantra from East to West.  Public parks dot the area and provide endless opportunities for fishing, picnicking, ice skating, biking, bird watching, boating and a plethora of other activities.  Due to their vigilance in keeping wetlands protected and maintaining dense forested areas even with urban expansion, along with their incredibly environmentally conscious residents, Minneapolis/St. Paul was named the 4th cleanest of cities in the world.  

Photo courtesy of Brian Roberts

3.  Whoop For Your Team!
I would probably make a whole group of Minnesotans mad if I left out their fabulous sports teams :0}
With so many of it's residents fit and health conscious, plus some that just like to be spectators to the sports, the Twin Cities area hosts an excellent selection of top performing sports teams. The Twins, Saints, Vikings, Timberwolves, Wild, and Swarm are all here to name a few.  Twin Cities is also home to two of the top sports venues in America: Target Field and Xcel Energy Center.  

4. Families Welcome!!!

I hear that the Twin Cities is a smoken' place to be young and single...or old and single for that matter.  I don't know much about that since I am married and the proud mother of three.  I can tell you that Parenting Magazine named the Twin Cities in the top 5 cities for families.  We SewCakeMakers are all about family fun and getting out to discover our beautiful new home town.  That is probably because we find ourselves in a new home so often {compulsive over-movers right here ;0}  If I were to go into all of the fun-filled family activities there are awaiting you here in the Twin Cities, this article would never end.  I can send you to some sites though that have fabulous lists of activities and updated calendars so you can pick and choose for yourself.  

Science Museum of Minnesota
Mpls/St. Paul Magazine has an issue out this month with a host of places to visit, restaurants to try and even volunteer opportunities here in our home town.  I was so excited to find this list while waiting at the doctor's office, I ran over to the book store and bought it.  After that, I realized every place mentioned was on the website.  So, whether you buy the magazine or just read online, check that list out before you visit or decide on what to do this weekend.

Theaters at Mall of America has an awesome list of activities and things to experience with your kids.  I have never heard of half of these.  I am really excited to start checking these activities off the list!

Last, but not least, check out or Tourism in Minnesota page and see what else we have to offer. 

Whether you live in the Twin Cities area now, or are simply thinking of visiting, I know you will find more than you ever imagined in the way of things to do and see.  With all of our sources for art, theater, nature discovery, sports teams,and host of family activities, I know that you will enjoy your stay in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.    

The following sites provided information for some of the material presented about the Twin Cities:,_Minnesota

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Craften' the Whip

This morning I mailed off the final box of some 15 orders I have been feverishly working on...then waiting for my husband to screw together for the past two weeks.  The order for 8 fire pits was technically waiting for three ;0}  Let me just say, I have really been "Craften'" the Whip around here to get things done.
{like how I incorporated the creepy little title???  Huh?  Huh?}

I wanted to show you these awesome glue gun stands though.  You know I AM the worst at taking pictures of my work, right?  I either remember in the beginning, the middle, or the end.  Never a complete set of before, during, and after pictures.  

So, that said, these are gonna have to do.  The turquoise/grey chevron glue gun stand has got to be the most popular version by far, but the red damask is a close second.  

The polka dot is quickly becoming a favorite though.  The black with white polkas was absolutely adorable!

Then I got this special order, a red, yellow, green and blue polka dot on white.  Figuring out how to evenly space the different colored dots is enough to send me to the loony bin with my evenly-spaced-complex, but it actually worked out really well.  I used just my regular polka stencil I made with my silhouette.  Then, I just went down one diagonal row of dots and blopped every other one red, then filled in the skipped dots with yellow.

Once that was done, I did the same thing with the blue and green.  Worked down one diagonally row, every other dot blue, then the rest green.  HOW STINKEN' CUTE!!!

It reminds me of the book Put Me In The Zoo.  I showed the stand to Scott {when I made him screw it together} and he said exactly the same thing.  Now we will have to go read a little Seuss to fulfill the need this Hot Glue Gun stand has left in our hearts <3 p="">

The next "new" stand I did was one with BLING!  I used my handy dandy heat setter tool...

and placed every one of those rhinestones on there by hand, then went back and set them with the tool.

Woooohoo!  That is a sexy glue gun stand ;0}  Am I right, or am I right?

This one I made for a sweet husband to give his wife back for Christmas.  I was SO IMPRESSED!  There is NO WAY Mr. SewCakeMaker would have searched Etsy for a gift for me, LET ALONE actually message someone and ask for a special request.  SHOCKED.  Anyway, his wife is a seller on Etsy too, and he wanted her actual shop name on the stand.  I was so surprised by the order, having just listed the stands only a week or two before, that I had to take a minute to think about what to do.  Finally I went with vinyl.  I worked the name up on the Silhouette program and cut it out in gold vinyl.  Turned out great, I might add.  Now-a-days I probably would have cut a stencil and stenciled it on so it had the same look as the rest of the design, but I do actually like that the name is in solid gold.  I think it makes it stand out more than the rest.

Now, I just have a bunch of random pictures for you... 
This one makes me laugh.  Remember back a few weeks when I made the Brrrr Snowman?  Well, I had one guy with no hat, but instead had an extra scarf on the table.  As my children often do, they walked by my work table and saw an opportunity to leave their mark.  I don't know if it was Emmalee or Eli, probably both, but when I came back to the table, one of my snowman was a sensei.  Yep, Sensei Snowman.  Bet it never crossed YOUR mind to make a karate snowman before ;0}

Next, I had a customer in December order some of the mini ornaments.  She was such a cute lady and told me how she was going to use the mini's for a quilt-style advent calendar.  It sounded interesting to me, so I asked if she happened to have a picture.  She had to wait until Christmas to get me one, but sure enough she took the time to come back and show me this cute wall hanging advent calendar.  LOve iT!

And there is my little mini nativity ornament.  What a cute idea.  Dotty, thanks so much for sharing those photos!!!  I told her I absolutely loved the little pin cushion ornaments.  I haven't heard back yet if she made them herself, but they are adorable.

Now, I still need to post about my little nephew Sawyer that was born in December.  He came a bit early and really made an entrance into this world by starting out with a several week stay in the NICU.  We did a little photo shoot of him once he got out.  I will show you those adorable pictures in the near future, but these two didn't make the cut.  

Remember sweet Mary from back in Arizona, the world's best Yarn-smith???  Well, she made this cute little pixie outfit for me back when she first started selling on Etsy {ContrarywiseDesigns is her shop name AND she has the pattern for the pixie outfits for sale HERE ;0}  

Seeing as how Sawyer is a boy, and Kallie's significant other was NOT a fan of us putting a "girly" costume on him, we only got a quick snapshot of the outfit before the whole thing was kaboshed.  I guess that makes these photos black market items or something, but here they are nevertheless! 

Before Sawyer was born, we made a couple blankets and this cute boppy cover.  

I always enjoy the opportunity to break out my snap press and get snapping!  Never heard of a snap press before???  They are FABULOUS!  If you find yourself installing a lot of snaps, you need to check out KAM snap presses.  I got mine on  I recommend the starter pack...and YES you need to buy the die set.   The starter begins at $115, but it is so, so awesome!  I will have to show that machine off one of these days.  As for today, I have more blue and gold cubes to design before the kids get home from school.

Have I mentioned how nice it is to NOT have a snow day today ;0}

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Growing Like Weeds

I ventured into the garage the other day and finally pulled this old board out of the box it was resting in.  I purchase it three years ago, then painted it last year at Christmas time, all the while planning to make a growth chart out of it.  I painted one for me and one for my sister last December, but due to lack of time, I still never finished my own chart.  After a whole year and a couple of really cold, really bleak winter afternoons this past month, I decided to grab that board out of my garage and make a finished project out of it.

With the board painted and distressed, all that was really left was to add the tick marks and numbers.  Vinyl seemed to be an easy way to accomplish the job, so I pushed the power button on my Silhouette Cameo and settled into the computer chair.  

Think about how you would make vinyl pieces for a growth chart.  We are talking about 6-8 feet of little lines all one inch apart.  To take 6-8 feet of vinyl, make those marks where they need to be, and then throw away the rest is a total waste.  Instead, I made these crazy rows of tallies so that the inch tally lines are spaced just like they should be, but my whole set of vinyl fits on two sheets of 12x12 vinyl.  

One note, I started my chart just below 2 feet.  All my kids were 21" long or longer, so I didn't feel the need to start the chart any shorter.  I, instead, was worried about exactly how tall they would be {my boy especially}, plus I wanted him to see just how tall his favorite basketball players were, so I made my board go over 7' tall.  My husband is 6'4, his cousins are 6'8 and 7'1 so I am thinking it just might be a possibility we will need that 7' marker ;0}  

Can you imagine me grabbing the step ladder to get up high enough to plant a kiss on Eli's cheek?  No, me either.  That boy is gonna bend down so I can kiss him ;0}  I am his mama!  Anyway, I added a 7 and a few more tallies to the vinyl just in case you want to use them too.  

I have the silhouette cut file for the vinyl for this project available HERE with Dropbox!!!

You will also need a ruler, scissors, and a 
marking pencil to make this project, in addition to a painted board and a set of vinyl numbers and tallies.

So basically, if you are going to make a growth chart of your own, cut the 12x12 sheet of tallies into three columns.  Then you need to separate the two columns like this...
It is kind of tricky, but stay with it.  If all else fails, you will be back to marking the board for inches, then putting the tallies where they go on the board.  When I cut these apart, I just started at one end of the row of tallies and cut in a zig zag until I ran out of tallies.  If you notice {chuckling at self} I actually forgot one tally on both sides of 6".  For some small moment I forgot that there were 12 inches in a foot instead of 10.  Um, yeah.  Have I mentioned that my children have had no school 8 of the 15 days we have been back in school???  Something about arctic blasts and -40 degrees, blah, blah, blah...  The school district needs to realize it does bad things to my mind when my ears never hear quiet LOL!

{do you like the sight words Emmalee is working on.  Hee, hee...}
Decide if you want to start at one, or just below two...or even at 0 if you really want {just make sure you don't actually start at zero unless you will be hanging your growth chart where there is no baseboard.  Yep.  That is right.  If you plan to start at the floor, you will need to pry off the baseboard, otherwise you will need to start your board at least at 4 or 6 inches.  
When your growth chart is ready to hang, measure 2' off the floor and mark the wall.  Then have a spotter sit on the floor and make sure you get the board up so the 2' mark on the board matches the mark you just made on the wall.  I drilled two small holes at the top of my board before I tried to hang it.  That made it easy to just nail it right to the wall way up around 7 foot.  

Once it is up there on the wall, line up those kiddos and mark 'em on the chart!  Just do it.  Just get those cute little marks on there before they are too big to remember those kids ever being small.  I have been pretty sentimental lately about my little kids that are growing like weeds.  They are growing so, so fast.  I am so grateful for the three darlings I got, but am so sad these years have passed so fast and now we have so few left with our babies.  Madison will be in college in two years.  
How sad is that!?!

Now, here is another funny story...We had been marking the wall by the kitchen table with the kid's heights in our house in Arizona starting back in 2008.  When we moved in 2012 I took a 1x4 board from the garage and transferred all the marks from the wall to the board so we wouldn't lose that memory.  Now, two years later, I transferred all the markings from that 1x4 board {that by some miracle I didn't chop up in a sudden, random project-still amazed at that!} to the newly finished growth chart. 

 Now, I look at these markings and think they must be wrong.  I am pretty convinced that when I wrote "09"  on the board, it was actually 2008.  I really don't think he grew 1.5 inches in 6 months...I guess he could have, but even if he did, I only have 5 marks for him, or any of the kids, and I just don't think we measured 4 times in that 6 months and only once before...

I just can't figure it out.  I guess I will just have to look at doctor's notes to straighten out the mystery of our height pasts.  We did line everybody up and make our new marks last week once the chart was hung.  At least from here on out we will be recorded properly.  I started adding the date AND the age.  When these guys are married and bringing their kids to Granma's house, they are going to want to know how their kids measure compared to themselves ;0}  I want to add a couple famous people's heights to the board, but that will happen when it happens.  I chose to do a 10" board so that we had plenty of room for all the kids, and even, dare I say, grand kids when the time rolls around.  

As for me, I love each and every day I walk past this growth chart in my hall.  My kids may be growing like weeds, but from now until the day I die, when I look at this chart I will see their smiley faces that looked up at me while I measured.  I will never forget the light in their eyes as I lined 'em up and marked 'em down, each trying to sneak up on their tippy toes and trying to grow up just a little faster than I would allow. 
I sure love my kiddos.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Indiana Jones Blue and Gold

New Indiana Jones Blue and Gold prints!!!

What a fun theme.  I tell you what, these cub scout leaders these days are getting more and more creative.  That makes for a bunch of lucky cub scouts when their leaders care enough to put so much time into their activities!!!

As always, 4 prints to choose from and one blank so you can insert the pictures of each boy or each den.  

Instructions and links:
 I cut the blocks out of 4x4 {actual size 3.5 x 3.5}  posts.  It is my understanding that if you don't have a saw or a dad in the pack that can cut wood, Home Depot or Lowes will cut them for you, but you might have to pay a little extra.  If they happen to say no, I would say the small ma-n-pa lumber stores will cut them for you.  Just tell them to cut them to 3 1/2" long.  

Now, the cube prints are actually sized for 4x6 photo prints.  Just send them to your favorite photo lab.  Most labs will let you email the files over now.  I print one of each file for every cube you are going to make.

Paint the cubes {technically you only need to paint about 1" in from all the corners since the photos will cover the middle of the blocks}.  Cut the photos down to the square {they print on a 4x6 photo, but the actual print is only 3.5x3.5 (or actually smaller) square.  I use mod podge to glue the pictures to the blocks.  Paint one side of the cube with mod podge, a nice even, healthy coat, then place the print on top.  I rub it down, then use a credit card or old gift card to kinda squeegie across the print to make sure there are no bubbles underneath.  Be sure not to squeeze out all of the glue though.  It will cause your picture to pull away from the cube as it dries and result in bubbles under your picture.   {somewhat of a visual on how I paint my cubes at this posting}

Normally I do one print on all of the blocks, then start back at the first block and do print number two.  Do all the sides in this assembly-line-style until you are finished.  Once all the prints are glued to the sides AND THE GLUE HAS DRIED, paint an even coat of mod podge over the top.  You may have a couple edges not stuck down.  This is a good time to shove some glue underneath and to rub the print down, then mod podge over the top.  I set out bbq skewers across my covered table to rest the blocks on while they dry.  You do not need to do anything to the bottom of the cube, but it is nice to paint that side completely just to give it a finished feel.  If you are a crazy overachiever, you can glue some felt to the bottom.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Birthday Baubles

I just got an order for a couple of these the other day and went today to find the pattern but couldn't find it!
After a little digging, I found this blog post and decided it was worth re-posting.  If nothing else, maybe I will be able to find it easier next time ;0}

I made these a couple of years ago to use as birthday gifts for the ladies at church.  My heart is heavy today though, because my good friend serving in the presidency with me at the time, she passed away last month, just one week after giving birth to a beautiful little girl.  I just ran across a picture of her in a different post, and now looking at these cute birthday baubles makes me think of her sitting by my side...and how she never will again.  So sad.

As for the business end of this post, 
The cupcake is cut from a 2x4.  I cut the frosting from 1/8" mdf {HomeDepot} with paper mod podged to the front.  I inked all edges with my permanent ink pad and applied a top coat of the mod podge to seal it all up.

I thought it would be cute to use a dumdum sucker as the cherry on top.  I drilled a hole as deep as I possibly could and it happened to be just deep enough.  The sucker fit completely inside, then I tied the curling ribbon on for added festiveness.

The present is just a smaller version of my Christmas Present.

They turned out super cute.  I also cut these from a 2x4.  I glittered the "ribbon" sash for a little bling.

I am still debating wrapping a sucker in the curly wire just to make things fair.  

Just for kicks and giggles I made up a pattern for anyone that wants it :0)

Click on the image to make it bigger, then right click and save.  

Now I will print that pattern out myself and hit my 10 degree garage for as little time as it possibly takes to cut my current order out.  All the while I will try to remember the happy times with my dear lost friend and try to remember our fun-filled moments together.  Happy and cheerful like these birthday baubles.  That is how Season always was.  Smiley and happy, and bubbling over with sweetness and concern for all.

Novelty Print Quilt Pattern

I have had a hard time finding good quilt patterns for novelty prints the past couple times I purchased them.  I made up this pattern so tha...