27 June 2011

American Flag Wall Hanging--"Out of Many, One"

I've been wanting to make something to decorate my apartment for the fourth of July, and yesterday, I came up with a great idea!  I'm so excited to make it.  I'll post a tutorial later (probably after the 4th--I'll have to race to get the wall hanging itself done in time), but here's the design:

The blocks are 2" square (finished size--cut 2 1/2" square), so the wall hanging will be...let's see...22 x 14 inches. I may or may not put a border on.
As you can see, I'm planning to use lots of different fabrics.  In fact, here are my options:

I probably won't end up using every fabric I have, but I really like the idea of putting together all these different fabrics into one American display.  It just seems so appropriate, since we're a nation of immigrants--a "melting pot" of cultures.  (And it's a nice way to use up random scraps!)

For the quilting, I am planning to machine-quilt: E pluribus unum/ Out of many, one.

Happy crafting, everyone!

20 June 2011

Chocolate Celebration Cake Recipe--Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy birthday to me!  It was my birthday recently, and I got some really great stuff, like a book about making patterns from clothes you already have (and altering the patterns to create new designs), and another about machine quilting in sections.  Oooh, I can't wait!

And to make a great birthday even better, this was my birthday cake!  It was soooo good, all that chocolate and caramel...

Chocolate Celebration Cake--is it chocolate for a celebration, or a celebration of chocolate.  I'll let you decide.

Hey, no licking the screen.

Not only was it good, but it was also easy.  Here's the recipe:

1 box of your favorite chocolate cake mix, and the ingredients to make it.
1 can dulce de leche, heated to a spreadable consistency (You could also use sweetened condensed milk, cooked down to a caramel consistency, or soft caramel candies, melted down.)
1 can of your favorite chocolate frosting
Assorted chocolate candies

Make the cake according to the package directions.  Bake it in two square/circle pans--we're making a layer cake.

Once the cake layers are completely cool, turn one layer out onto your hand, then place right-side-up on your cake stand (or green cutting board, if you're me).  You may need to cut the top flat so the second layer will have a stable foundation.  A bread knife works well for this.  (Now you get to nibble on the yummy cake you just cut off!  One of the joys of making your own birthday cake!)

The dulce de leche or other caramel goes on now.  Save some to drizzle on at the end.  Then top with the second cake layer.


Pile the cake high with your chocolate!   If it's chocolate, or tastes good with chocolate, it can go on this cake!  I used Reese's peanut butter cups, Rolos, M&Ms, peanut butter chips, and mini marshmallows.  The M&Ms and marshmallows helped break up the large amounts of (delicious, but not very colorful) chocolate.  To add additional visual appeal, I cut my peanut butter cups in half, to show the centers.   

Drizzle the leftover caramel over all the chocolate goodness.

Now all that's left is to enjoy you're amazing deliciousness!  Yummm!

Mmmm, caramel.

I should have heated up the caramel a bit more so it would flow better.  Oh, well.  Tasted great anyways!  So much chocolate.  So much caramel.  So good.

This recipe is adapted from one I found in the Taste of Home magazine.

13 June 2011

Refinishing a New Dresser for Boo

Mr. MadeIt was browsing Goodwill one day and he found this:

Cute, right?  We'd been saying for a while that we needed to get Boo a dresser, so this was a great chance.  It needed a little TLC...

But the price was right!  It was marked $19.99, but Goodwill was having a half-off furniture sale (Goodwill has sales?  Who knew?) so we got it for ten dollars.  Sweet.  Let the refinishing begin!

First, deconstruction.  Mr. MadeIt didn't like the carved decorativeness of the handles and corners, so they came off.  (I thought they were cute for a little girl, but hubby was right that the dresser would be more timeless without them.  Maybe I'll make a matching picture frame out of them...)  And the rails (is that what you would call them?) had to come off the top (but just temporarily).  Drawers, too.

Then sanding.  For a project like this, it was time to break out the power tools!  We used a random orbit hand sander, so it would be harder to gouge out a section if we sanded in one area for too long.

Poor thing needed a lot of sanding.  It had bubbled up where moisture had soaked in, so that had to be sanded down, to say nothing of the gunk that was stuck to the surface...

Next was painting.  The paint guy at Lowe's recommended a satin finish enamel paint.  He told us it would be nice and durable--very important for children's furniture!  And the paint was still soap and water clean-up (no paint thinners or anything).  I even got some paint on my jacket, and the paint washed out!  (I don't recommend experimenting with that, though.)

I don't have any more in-process pictures, but I bet you can image it:  paint, new hardware, and put everything back together.  It took forever to get the finish even--maybe we should have primed it first?--but eventually, we got it all done.

And the moment we've all been waiting for..The After Picture.

(Yes, Boo chooses her own clothes.  She's not even two, but she sure has opinions on everything!)

Boo wasn't much interested in the dresser when it was sitting mostly completed in the living room, but the instant we set the finished dresser down in Boo's room, she picked up some of her toys and piled them on the top of the dresser.  "Oh, this is mine," she seemed to say.  Yep, little one.  Mommy and Daddy made it just for you.

11 June 2011

How I Did My Tutorials Page/How to Make a Blog Button

One of you wonderful readers asked how I did my tutorials page, so get ready for a tutorial on that!  You could use this technique wherever you want to have images function as links.

First, of course, you need to make your image (to become the button/badge).  Mine is 162 px square, but just choose whatever size works for you.  You'll probably want to include a picture (who doesn't like pictures?) and a title.  If you will be making several of these images, I suggest keeping one as a template.  In the case of Photoshop (my image-making software of choice), this means not flattening the layers, so I can just switch in the new pictures and titles.

Now, upload the image to Photobucket or similar site.

Next, in Blogger, go to Edit Pages and then Edit HTML for the page of your choice.

For each image, enter this code, replacing the orange words with your own information:

<a href="the url you are linking to"><img src="the Direct Link to your image" /></a>

If you are putting in more than one button, just paste the above code in again, with new information in the orange spots.  If your buttons are showing up too close to each other, you can just enter a couple spaces between the two sets of code.  You can make other additions to your page (adding categories for the tutorials, for example) in the Compose tab.

And that's it!  It's really easy, and makes your blog easy to navigate.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment or e-mail me!

08 June 2011

How To Add a Different Image Before Each Post Title

I was looking and looking and trying and trying and asking and--well, no, I just asked once--how to get a cute image with the posting date to show up before each post title.  I easily found tutorials on how to put the same image before each post title, but I couldn't have each post dated "June 2" (unless I severely cut down on how often I post).  But finally, I found a tutorial that worked.  And now I'm going to share it with you:  Add Icon or Picture in Blogger Post Title

It's really easy, and it actually worked.  The main post is on adding the same image before every post title, but scroll down to the Update, and you'll see how to add different images.

PS--If your image is pressing too close to the title, you can add some breathing room by entering a few spaces (just hit the spacebar key--no complicated coding) between the HTML code given and your title.  I added two.

So what do you think of my little date icon?  I think it adds a little personality.  :)

UPDATE:  I found out a different and easier way to customize the posting date.  I will write a post about it soon.  But so you know what I was talking about in this post, this is how I was doing it:

I do like how this little icon looks, but now I don't have to create a new image for each post.

02 June 2011

New Free Blog Backgrounds

Well, June is here, and that means it is officially SUMMER!  Okay, okay, I know summer doesn't "officially" begin until June 21, but really, JUNE is summer.  And I'm so excited about the new season that I made some fun summer-themed blog backgrounds for you.  I hope you like them.  If you download one, leave me a comment!  I'd love to visit your blog.  And of course, if you have any questions about using the backgrounds, leave a comment or e-mail me at jillmadeitblog(at)gmail(dot)com.

(Right click on the image you want to download, click "Save Image to Downloads" or similar options, and Save.)

By the way, all the backgrounds are repeating except the Bumblebee background.


Ah, the season of picnics...and ants.

Getting ready for the Fourth of July!

For those of you who like the "distressed" look.

For my fellow quilters, or anyone who loves quilts.

What's not to love about watermelons?

Watermelons and picnics--does anything say "summer" more than that?

I call this one "Yellow Happiness." :)

For personal use only.