Friday, July 31, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

The latest from "Cupcakes by Heather & Joanne" - a chocolate chip cupcake with vanilla frosting garnished with a mini chocolate chip cookie and mini chocolate chips.

Cupcakes + Cookies = YUM!

PS) Stay tuned for a hip new out-of-this-world collaboration between cupcakes & muffins a la Ready, Set, Craft! and Mega.Crafty! Get excited, people!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm knitting a teddy bear!

My Mum subscribes to Crafters Choice. For those of you that are unfamiliar, it's a book club for solely crafty and cooking books. It's pretty sweet. Through her, I got one of those deals where if I joined I could get four books for 99 cents. I jumped at the chance! The shipping was $11 - but still, four books for $12? You can't beat that!

Here's what came in the mail this week...

If you follow this blog even sort-of regularly - you know that I, along with my partner-in-crime Heather have a SERIOUS cupcake thing going on!

Now that I'm knitting, I absolutely want to learn how to crochet as well!

You know how I like quick and easy projects, and you may also remember that I'm getting a sewing machine for my birthday. I can't wait to give some of these projects a try!

Now, the final book I ordered kind of on a whim...

Look at it - it's adorable. Knitted bears! How sweet! Plus, the book gives all kinds of patterns for clothes and costumes for the bears. I ordered it will full knowledge that I am nowhere near skilled enough to knit a bear. I'm still such a knitting novice! I figured I'd keep it until I got better at knitting and could actually use it.


Turns out that there are patterns for "simple" "intermediate" and "advanced" bears. And you know what? The "simple" bear is just knitting, pearling, increasing, and decreasing. Amazing! I've only been working on it for two days and look how I'm doing...

You have to ignore all the floating strings - the pattern told me to leave long tails for sewing. And yes, he's missing a leg - it's in progress and will be done this evening. If all I did was knit constantly, I swear I could knit up this entire little bear in less than a day easily.

The instructions for assembling and finishing the bear are a little vague - so I'm a bit intimidated about that part. Reads like it will be more complicated than the knitting. BUT, we'll see. I'm just happy to be knitting more than scarves!

Stay tuned, you'll be seeing this little fella again soon... and hopefully he'll have two legs and a face by then! : )

Monday, July 27, 2009

Claire's Hat

I finished my second baby hat. This one actually has a home. It's heading to baby Claire in the morning.

All packaged up and ready to go!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Flower Headbands

Thank you all, so much, for your support. All of the comments, e-mails and messages have been out of this world. I truly appreciate your support as I work through this sudden change in my life.

I still don't have my blogging mojo back yet, but wanted to share something from last week. I'm teaching a jewelry/fashion art class with a friend of mine from the Y and last week we used
THIS TUTORIAL and made beautiful flower headbands!

They turned our exceptionally cute. Now all I need is the right outfit and I'm sooo rocking it out.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting...

The last 24 hours have been hard for me. I found out yesterday that I was losing my job - being laid off due to the awful economic situation that we're battling nationwide. It was a complete shock, of know fault of my own, and absolutely devastating.

I haven't been able to put much into words yet - although I plan to do so on my personal blog in the next couple of days. I do know that I am incredibly thankful for our friends and family near and far who have rallied around us to provide comfort and support during this tough time.

It's hard to know what to do first, or at all. But today when everything was still so fresh I figured - "hell, if cupcakes can't make a girl at least a little bit happier - what can?" so I went over to Heather's and we whipped up a batch of chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting.

Everyone agrees they're the best we've made so far. Probably because so much heart went into them.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Easy Peasy Bugs with Paint

Phew! Today I will be teaching my 9th and 10th classes this week. Everything from visual art to jewelry and fashion art to theatre... it's been a busy week!

Here's a lovely project I did with my class of 4-6 year old's this week. This is a project that can work well in a classroom, or at home with your own kids. If you are doing it with a large group though, make sure you have an adult for every 4-5 kids to help keep things under control. Mess is fun - but not if it gets out of hand!

Painted Bugs!

1. Fold paper in half either "hamburger" or "hotdog" style - student's choice - and open up.

2. Ask students to paint dots with globs of paint down the center fold, as few or as many as they wish with two guidelines...
- no dot can be bigger than a quarter
- dots must stay at least one inch from either edge of the paper

Believe me - these two guidelines will help get the best results and reign in the mess!

3. Fold the paper in half again, smooth the painted area with your hand to spread the paint.

4. Open it back up - kids go crazy when they see the results! :)

5. Add antenna, wings, etc. etc. with a black sharpie marker.

6. Finish up with some googly eyes - kids can never get enough of the googly eyes!

7. They look really neat cut out, and pasted onto black paper.

I guarantee once your child has made one of these bugs - they will want to make more! Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I've graduated from scarves!

I know - two posts in very quick succession here - but I couldn't resist posting a quick photo of THIS...

For those of you who have been with me for awhile and followed my knitting journey - you'll know I've been a bit stuck in a rut (go ahead and click on the "knitting" label for some flashbacks) on beginner scarves. Well, no more!

It was a very simple pattern, with a bit of ad-libbing, and a few imperfections, but I made it through. My first baby hat!

Good thing too since some dear friends of ours just had a little one last week. Off to the store this afternoon to find the perfect yarn and ribbon to knit a baby hat for their little girl!

PS) If you missed it... be sure to check out the "Summer Fun Crayons" below!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Fun Crayons

Many of you may have made melted crayons in cake pans before, but here's a fun and summery twist on the old standard...

I've picked up several of these cheapo $1 ice cube trays from the dollar store - in all shapes and sizes. For this project, I used one with sea and beach shapes.

I broke up some crayons (if you have kids - I'm sure you already have lots of broken crayons laying around!) and put them in the molds.

I then microwaved the entire mold for 30 seconds at a time until the crayons melted...

IMPORTANT NOTE! Do NOT put mold in oven. Don't even think about it! These dollar store finds are plastic, not silicone, and will melt. Just trust me on this one... : )

Once the crayons have melted, allow to reset, then gently pry out of molds.

Hooray! Summer fun crayons! : )

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fudgy Chocolate Layer Cake

Seems like I'm ALWAYS wanting chocolate cake for dessert - no matter where we go for dinner. So when I got the urge to bake this weekend... it made perfect sense that I made one! In fact, I see this as the beginning of a quest - a quest to find the perfect chocolate cake recipe!

I pulled this recipe out of a "Great American Home Baking" binder that I'm honestly not sure where or when I got. I think maybe Mum gifted it to me at some point.

Anyhoo... here's the recipe...

Makes 12 servings


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup less 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

For the frosting...

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350. Line bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with waxed paper. Grease paper and sides of pans. Dust with flour.

2. Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown suar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.

3. At low speed, alternately beat flour mixture and buttermilk into butter mixture just until blended. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.

4. Bake cakes until a toothpick comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Remove paper. Turn layers top-side up and cool completely.

5. To prepare frosting, beat butter and confectioner's sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate and vanilla; continue beating until shiny and smooth.

6. Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate; spread with frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread frosting on top and sides of cake. Let cake stand for at least 30 minutes before sprinkling with chocolate shavings and slicing.

The cake itself was yummy - moist but not too moist, with good flavor. The frosting was okay - I really needed a double batch to cover everything will and get a nice middle layer. I'd definitely do a double batch next time.

Also, I'd consider using sweetened chocolate next time to make the frosting even more flavorful.

I've never made a cake from scratch before - other than cupcakes. Not bad for a first attempt! Anyone have a favorite chocolate cake recipe they'd like to share?

Friday, July 17, 2009


I needed to whip up a few cards for family and friends - there are all kinds of thanks that need to go out, and anniversaries, babies, and birthday's that need to be acknowledged right now!

Now when I say "whip up" cards - it actually makes me laugh out loud - because I'm far from being able to "whip up" a card. I get SO frustrated when making cards! I'm not as skilled and practiced as all of those crazy scrapbookers with their brilliant techniques and unique embellishments, and I don't have a lot of the snazzy machines and materials that would help me become that way. Although I must say I'm SO wanting a die-cutting machine...

I tried to keep things simple, as you can see from these cards. I've found some really beautiful papers that I think stand well by themselves without too much added to them (because I don't know how!) and used just simple backing and layering techniques.

I also used a circle hole punch in several sizes, and some rubber stamps. Instead of using an ink pad with the stamps I used washable markers to color them with - allowing me to stamp multiple colors at once (hence the little bird.)

Perfect or not, I think it's always nice to receive a card that's handmade - don't you?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stuffed Fish!

This art project was based on a concept from Preschool Art by MaryAnn Kohl (linked to BN for YOU - Rachel!) and was wildly successful with my little ones.

Stuffed Fish

Roll of butcher paper or other large paper
Crayons (or paints, or whatever you have on hand!)
Googly eyes

How To:

Step 1:
Pre-draw and cut a large fish on oversized paper. I used a roll of butcher paper, and used a clip art fish to base my freehand drawing off of. You'll need two fish per child.

Step 2:
Have each child color one side of each fish (be sure they are coloring two sides that will line up correctly when you go to assemble the fish. Perhaps label the sides they are supposed to color.

Encourage them to make bright and colorful fish and cover all the white space.

If children are old enough, talk about patterns and shapes. Maybe they want to create a striped or polka dotted fish? They can be whimsical - not realistic.

Step 3:
Staple the two sides of the fish together, stuffing with crumpled up newspaper as you go.

Step 4:
Add a googly eye on each side of your fish, and you're done!

I used crayons for this lesson because I had a large class of kids for a short time period and wanted to a) keep mess under control and b) avoid anything needing to dry. I think these fish would look fantastic with acrylic or glitter paints.

We attached our fish to ribbons and hung them in a hallway in our building. I even had my interns fashion some "seaweed" out of curling ribbon. They're so crafty!

What fun for the kids to walk through their "aquarium" and see their fish swimming around!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Scarf Model

I was at JoAnn's with Mum this weekend and scored a couple of pairs of Lion Brand knitting needles (regularly $8.99 a pair) for .97c a pair in the clearance section. Nice! The needles inspired me to grab some yarn and put them to work - I needed to check and make sure I remembered how to knit!

The packaging of the needles had a simple scarf pattern on it - so I gave it a whirl. It's knit with one color of Fun Fur yarn and one color of Homespun yarn held together. Lucky for me I had some fun fur on hand that I'd scored at the Dollar Store awhile ago (amazing, right?!) and after picking up a skein of Homespun I was off to the races.

I swear I probably spent a whole two hours on the thing. It knit up so fast!

I knew I wanted to share a photo with you - but scarves are kind of tricky to photograph if they're not actually ON someone...

...Good thing Bella was on hand to help out. She is SUCH a fashionista! Look at her pose!

The scarf is just 10 stitches per row for the entire ball of Fun Fur, leaving one yard at the end for casting off. I'm thinking this is a great base scarf pattern to knit some scarves for girlfriends for Christmas. I do think I'll knit it a little wider and longer next time though - which will make it no longer a one skein project - but that's okay.

Wouldn't you just love to get a sassy, cozy, fun-colored scarf like this for Christmas?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Coconut-Banana Coladas

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

In my opinion, there's nothing like a delicious fruity cocktail to make a summer afternoon great. This weekend I tried out a Bobby Flay recipe from the Food Network.

Coconut-Banana Coladas!

Talk about yum! Made with Cream of Coconut, Pineapple, Banana, and fresh Lime juice - they were out of this world! Want the recipe? Head over here!

Have a favorite summer cocktail recipe of your own? Please leave a comment and share!


Friday, July 10, 2009

Christmas Tree? FAIL!

So I have this idea in my head that I'd like to make Christmas ornaments for friends and family as gifts this year. Yes, yes, I understand it's only July - but with all kinds of "Christmas in July" things floating around the blogosphere - I started giving it some serious thought.

Since I've been feeling rather felt-y lately I had this great picture in my head of a felted Christmas tree ornament embellished with sequins and ribbon. So off I went, and here's what I ended up with...

Hm... not so satisfied. Not at ALL! It was sooooo tricky to hand sew - hard to stuff (so many little nooks and crannies!) and I couldn't get the sequins glued on without glue gun stringy messy residue getting on my felt to save my life. Grrr!

So it's a GOOD thing it's only July, right? Time to go back to the drawing board. The ornament is actually really quite similar to some that I remember my Mum making for a craft show when I was a kid. I can't for the life of me remember if she hand sewed them or machine sewed them? I'm thinking that machine sewing them would be WAY easier and neater. That is, once I actually learn to machine sew... : )

And in other crafty fails - Heather and I attempted our second batch of Bakerella's cupcake pops yesterday. We made the first batch for Lily's Cupcake Party back in May - and while they weren't perfect by any means - they weren't bad for a first attempt. Well... the second batch sucked. Plain and simple. Pretty much everything that could went wrong did! But we will not let the cupcake pops get the better of us - you'll hear about them again I promise!

Happy Friday, Crafters!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dabbledy-do, UPrinting, and Fishes, too! (Rainbow Fish Art Lesson)

Good Morning, folks! Welcome to my 100th post on Ready, Set, Craft! Yeah!

I initially had great expectations for my big post, but instead of making a big to-do about it, I have lots of other important and fun tidbits to share! Enjoy!

If you've been hanging around this blog for awhile, you'll know that I'm a big fan of Dot/Nancy over at It was one of the first crafting blogs I discovered, and one that motivated me to begin my own. Dabbled has brought me all kinds of good things... like the fabulous Felt Pins I made for Mariah, and the Make Something Cool Every Day in April challenge. I was featured over there with my Pinata Project back in April (thanks again!), and am always chatting about the neat contests going on at Dabbled like this one.

So Dabbled just got a huge makeover and is looking SNAZZY. For real! Unfortunately, while making the move from Blogger to Wordpress, Dabbled lost a ton of feed followers! Oh no! So, if you are a Dabbled follower and haven't seen any posts in the past few days, you may need to update their feed. Just head over to to get the updated feed. Then... head over and enjoy that new site! And if you haven't checked out before, now is the time to do so - and tell Dot I said hello!

Speaking of Dabbled and contests, I wanted to take a moment to chat about By being a sponsored blog of theirs, I'm eligible for all kinds of neat contests, giveaways, and info. AND, because Dabbled is sponsored by them as well (and many others...) I can participate in contests over there (such as the postcards above) as a reader. IN FACT - I actually WON a contest through them at Dabbled just last month and won a 16x20 canvas print of my choice! Sweet!

Now, not only did I not have to pay a dime for this print (no shipping or anything!) Gemini, my UPrinting contact was AWESOME to work with - so accomodating! I could even get a free pdf press ready proof of my print before I ordered. SWEET!

If you haven't already, you should definitely check them out...

Why isn't your average printing company:

Blog Sponsorships:
If you are looking to find a sponsor for your blog, is definitely interested. We offer giveaways, advertising and more for qualified bloggers.

Non-Profit Sponsorships:
The U-Community Program sponsors hundreds of non-profits and education to improve our local communities.

Social Justice Projects:
The UPrinting Kiva account promotes small business growth in developing countries.

Green Printing:
UPrinting supports a sustainable future by recycling, using non-toxic inks, and offering eco-friendly recycled paper stocks for business cards and postcard printing.

And lastly, the fishies! (Phew! Long post!)

I did a Rainbow Fish art lesson with a small group of kinders over at the library yesterday with great results. This is my very own project, and one of my faves. You could do this at home with your kid(s) very easily - it doesn't have to be done in a classroom! It's not messy at all, and really good for coordination and manipulation - since those teeny circles are tricky for little ones to handle!


You will need...
Rainbow Fish book
Blue construction paper
Photocopy of a fish - I use THIS
1 inch hole punch
Variety of textured papers (newspaper, construction, tissue, scrapbook, etc. etc.)
Aluminum foil
Glue stick
Googly eyes

After reading "The Rainbow Fish"...

Step 1
Dependent on the age of the kids you're working with, and the number of kids, pre-punch circles in a variety of paper types, and also a handful of aluminum foil circles.

Step 2
Students should cut out their fish (little ones may need help!) and glue it to their ocean (blue construction paper)

Step 3
Ask students to glue on their circles to form scales of the fish. Encourage older students to think about making patterns and designs. Explain that the aluminum foil circles are special, just like the shimmery scales in the book, and they can use as few or as many as they want - but to think hard about where they want to place them on their fish.

Step 4
Make sure that students cover all of their white space. Just like a real fish, our fishes need to be entirely covered with scales! When they are finished, add a googly eye and you're done!

If you wanted to go a step further, you could color an ocean background first wit seaweed, plants, the ocean floor, other fish, etc. using pastels, paint, or construction crayons. I like the simplicity and boldness of a plain ocean and colorful fish myself - but feel free to make it your own!