W.I.P. Round-Up

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I do hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day! We had a special day with a pancake breakfast (Peanut butter pancakes, a test recipe for Joni & Celine for 500 Vegan Recipes, yummers!), hanging around in our p.j.’s and eating left-over queso-free queso dip and nachos – while still in aforementioned pajamas – for lunch (also à la 500 Vegan Recipes), and some vegan sushi take-out. We also watched a fun movie to round out heart day – I’m not a big romantic comedy fan in general, but if you get a chance to see Prête moi ta main (the English title is I do) you should, because it was cute, funny and the kind of movie you could easily pause the four or five times it was necessary to re-tuck Guppy in after two false-alarm potty visits, a night-light check, a tissue emergency and a “one last kiss” visit. That’s what you get for feeding your 3 year-old too many starches and letting her hang out in her jammies all day. But who knows?

Enough about my domestic bliss (ahem), let’s take a peek at what the Wipsters have been up to!

I consider myself so lucky to be (virtually) surrounded by such talent and craftiness! Just take a look at these great projects :

carmen

Carmen made a cute little red softie doll for her daughter. I’m thinking she likes it :

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Krys made two adorable stuffies for her “two vegan boys”

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Aren’t they cute? (I mean the boys!)

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amanda

Amanda’s pillow is just gorgeous (that back fabric is so cheerful!).

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natalia

This patchwork-style pillow Natalia made for her daughter is precious! I love the buttons on the back , too :

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Beth made a mini-softie (you can see it here)

and here are my final creations :
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This is Guppy’s Valentine’s Day pillow, which was indeed an eleventh hour project. I embroidered her name (the yellow splotches…because no, her name isn’t really Guppy!) and there is also purple ribbon on the back. She really liked it, and we all had to “test it”, which was fun.

pillow1

This smaller version was part of a Valentine’s Day-themed package for my sister’s birthday. I definitely think the ribbon was a good idea when I see how plain-Jane this first one is.

This Stitch-Along has been fun, and I’ve already had a few suggestions for March. If you have an idea for a Stitch-Along project, you can email me at fishbowlmusings (at) gmail (dot) com – there is so much out there, any and all ideas are appreciated!

Don’t forget about our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool if you didn’t get your pictures to me in time, or if you’d just like to share what you’ve been up to on Wednesdays!

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W.I.P. Wednesday : Felty Heart Pins, Pin Cushions & Stitch-Along Progress

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Hello Crafties! It’s already Wednesday, can you believe it? I am losing the battle to stay on top of things, so I’ve decided to stop fighting and just be like water and flow! Woosh!

hearts-in-progress

Have you seen this Valentine Pins tutorial? I’ve been making tons of these cuties. Most everyone I would usually make sweet heart-shaped sugar cookies for is watching their weight, so rather than taunt them with pink royal icing and cookie love I think I’ll give them some sweet (and calorie-free) crafty love instead. These are really easy and fun, and gratifying for those moments when you feel like you want to complete a project. Of course I don’t know what that’s all about…

One thing that’s been occupying my time has been these :

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pin-cushion-linen-lavender

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pin-cushion-velours

pin-cushions

These pin cushions are really fun to make, and a wonderful way to use those favourite fabric scraps that are too cute to end up into the “scrap bag”. I’m also really loving the unique vibe they each have, which is why I love giving them as little gifts. No two look alike, though they may share similar DNA. Or weave. Whatever.

I’ve been so busy playing making the cushions o’ pins, that my Love Bear progress, well, isn’t. Progressing I mean. I’m down to the wire with my last one (ie: it’s hardly started) so if you’re not quite done, you’re in good company. But hey, Valentine’s Day is Saturday, and it’s only Wednesday, so there’s still tons of time left to get stitching, right? If you’ve been stitching along with us and would like to have your little Love Bear included in the W.I.P. Stitch-Along round-up on the 14th, just drop me a line with a link to your blog, your blog name and a photo! Voila!

I’m super excited about next week’s W.I.P. post because it’s a fun tutorial that I can’t wait to share with you! I just need to be patient and hold tight until these three P.I.F. winners receive their goody bags. Don’t want to spill the beans or anything. (Katie and Trina, once you’ve chosen your P.I.F. winners I’ll send you some goodies, too!). And I’ll be having yet another P.I.F. drawing soon because I am a lucky ducky and won yet another P.I.F. drawing! Betcha can’t wait?!?

The Wipster List is growing! If you’d like to play along, just leave me a comment here and snag yourself a beautiful logo à la VeganLovlie. Also, don’t forget about our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Group - show us your gorgeous masterpieces! You know you want to! Don’t be shy, this is fun for everyone!

Crafty Valentine’s Day Ideas!

Ok kids, you’ve got less than a week to make a few bobbles of love to share (along with smooches and dark chocolate of course). These are a few rather fun ideas I’ve come across in blogland. I hope they’ll help inspire you, too
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Learn to make a cute (and easy) heart-shaped pom-poms at Zakka Life. I think these are an adorable way to decorate a little gift using some scrappy yarn, or would make a great little valentine in their own right!

feb-wind

Check out Molly’s Sketchbook over at the Pearl Bee to make these adorable fabric window valentine’s. I still have a few I need to make…

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Also found at Purl Bee, these Sewn Paper Valentines. This tute will have you making you own beautiful valentines in no time at all! I think there is something so cool about sewing paper with the sewing machine…I feel like someone is going to come and scold me or something. I also totally admit to having a nerd crush on Molly and I want to be as clever as she is some day!

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I know not everyone has the inclination or the supplies to sew. No problemo, amigos! How about a no-sew garland? This is a great idea and it looks like fun – and it’s an opportunity to use a hot glue gun which is always fun, really. Visit Fiona at Scraps in Progress to see how!

Stay tuned for a “Sunday Dinners” post tomorrow featuring a recipe for “Divine Lemon Scones” (no those weren’t dinner, but they could have been) and more “food court”esque Chinese food.

Also, I know I’m behind on emails, comments, etc. Fear not, I still love you, just need a little catching up time! :)

Valentines for my Valentines : Late Love Is Better Than No Love, Right?

Cascade de coeurs

Here they are, the hand-made valentines I’ve been working on since early January (I started them on my birthday, actually). As mentioned in my previous post I don’t have much sewing or craft experience, so for the nimble-fingered, 13 felt and bead hearts don’t seem like a much of a feat, and I admit that doing them wasn’t difficult, but when I compare the first few hearts with the last few, the difference in the stitching is huge! When ever I had a few free minutes (my copious free-time is far from limitless, but you can always make time when you really want to do something, right?) I would add a few beads or cut out some hearts.

il pleut des coeurs

My goal was to get them finished before Valentine’s Day, and I did indeed manage that- I put the final touches on the last heart the morning of the 11th, but getting them into envelopes and in the mail, well, that just happened today.

Coeur Rose

Sending them regular mail, they should get to the States before Saint Patrick’s Day…

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So here they are, and there they go. They are on their way to Michigan and to Arizona to remind the ones I love that I miss them so and that they are always in my heart. My poor belle-mère, my mother-in-law, had a heart attack two weeks before Valentine’s Day, so she got her felt heart early. She is recovering very well for her 75 years, and she had her felt heart hanging next to her bed in the CCU at the hospital. A healthy heart is what I wish for everyone this year. And lots of love, too!

Coeur Rouge & Noir

Valentine’s Day Cupcake Love or Adventures in Valentine’s Day Baking With The Guppy!

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!

I wanted to make something sweet and tasty for Valentine’s Day to share with my collegues at the school where I teach, but I also wanted to have some extra “whatever” for our little family. Still recovering from the cookie extravaganza over the holidays, yet needing something easily portable, the logical thing to do was to go with cupcakes (actually, “when in doubt, go with cupcakes” is one of my many little mottos, along with “What would Xena do?” and “If it ain’t rainin’, you ain’t trainin’!”).

The Guppy and I set to work to make some special Valentine’s cup cakes. We get very excited about cupcakes as I’ve mentioned before, and I know I will have to aquire a copy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. I tell myself I’ve been resisting because I just can’t have too many sweet recipes lying around…mind strong, body weak…must make yummy treats…but in reality it’s the over-seas shipping that’s been keeping me from ordering it. I have, however, made the “fauxstess cupcakes” from her Vegan With A Vengeance and even though I didn’t do all the steps, found them to be just perfect. We frosted them with her “Coconut Heaven” icing last time, but I wanted to decorate somehow involving the Valentine’s Day theme, so I went ahead– oops! I mean we, the Guppy and I that is, and made the chocolate ganache icing and the “Royal Icing for Squigglies” but at the risk of totally offending cupcake-loving Moskowitz, used it to make (un-intentionally) funky-looking hearts. Don’t tell her, please.

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Guppy helping mum

Doing a little math (I hear friends and loved ones snickering. That’s not nice.) I realized that the yeild of 12 cupcakes would be a bit juste if I was to share cupcake love with collegues and the fam, so I decided ever-so-spontaneously to double the batch. No problemo. Moskowitz even assures me in her super-book that this recipe doubles really well. Yeah, I bet it does, when you’re not baking with a 2-year-old.

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Finger Lickin’ Good Batter, Mum!

Truth be told, the Guppy is really into cooking, baking and of course, tasting. She’s very easy to have as a helper, you just have to be sure to continually give her jobs to do. The only trick with that is making sure that the jobs will last long enough to distract her while I finish the task at hand. It all worked out pretty well, the only real problem was that my individual cupcake doses of batter weren’t as equal as I’d have liked, so they came out with varying heights.

 

No Food Worries With Vegan Beaters!
No Food Worries With Vegan Beaters!
So I would assign varying tasks to the Guppy such as “put all these measuring cups in this big bowl” or “please help Mumma count all these apples in the fruit basket”.
Have you ever been to the circus? Seen one on television? Are you familiar with the Chinese Plate Spinners? No matter how talented you are, eventually you’ll have so many pates spinning that you’ll just have to let a few fall in order to tend to those in front of you.
Some plates did indeed fall. But no one was hurt.
When I decided to double the batch I forgot to do the most basic of baking protocols- make sure I had enough of everything to do the double (as I’ve said before, I’m new to this). I didn’t. I had to substitute brown rice syrup for the maple syrup for the ganache icing. No biggie. Other tiny problem? My tablespoon dissappeared. No biggie. Just double-up on the half-teaspoon. Ok, but when you’re already doubling the recipe that means you’ll need 20 half teaspoons of soy milk for the ganache or 28 half-teaspoons of cocoa powder for the cupcakes…do you see where I’m going with this? (I again hear family and loved ones chortle as they picture dyslexically-inclined Shellyfish counting cocoa powdered spoons while counting apples with the Guppy. You shouldn’t make fun of me.)
The good news is, the cupcakes, while I cannot vouch for their actual cocoa powder content, were splended, the ganache very thick but in a good, decadant-fudgy way, and I found the tablespoon later in the evening when sweeping up the kitchen.
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ET VOILA!
The only sour note is my poor Guppy woke up in the middle of the night with a 104f fever, so I had to call in sick to work and thus not share cupcake love with collegues. The best laid plans of mice and men… oh well, more cupcakes for us as Mr. Fish declared!

 

 

With all my heart…

Heart Trio
Heart Trio

I had a very difficult time taking our holiday decorations down this year. They usually make their appearance between Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving, and the rule is they get to stay up until at least my birthday which is the beginning of January. This year, though, they were still up until nearly the end of January.

It seems to me that my hesitance was due in part to my super-cute daughter and her love for all that is holiday decoration. She still asks from time to time where the “Spiders” are, and then tells me with authority that they are sleeping (for information the spiders are some fuzzy plush toys that decorated our apartment at Halloween and which the Guppy just adored to the point of sleeping with them when we let her).

The second reason is I’m feeling a bit homesick. I haven’t had a real holiday with my family since December of 2002 (the operative word being my family, because we have indeed spent the holidays with members of Mr. Fish’s family). Somehow by leaving the tree and tinsel up, well, the hope that I’d be home for christmas was still in an admittedly rather sentimental and cheesy way, alive.

But whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes…uh, I mean the Guppy or my missing my family, the decorations had to come down. People were beginning to notice our décalage with the rest of the world, so it was time to move on, yet, as I was boxing up and tucking away I saw the void I was leaving, and wanted to do something…

Red on white heart
Red on white heart

I actually got the idea to make the felt hearts as Valentines for friends and family members when I was making these adorable cupcake-tree orniments for our holiday tree, an idea which came from this great blog called Bittersweet (and no, I’m not simply a fan because we have the same theme for our blogs!). Ms. Hannah seems like a very talented chica who must not sleep much, but anyway, she shared this great idea for the cupcakes, and being a tempered cupcake fan, I threw together some felty-cakes for our tree and they were really cute. It was the first time I’d done anything vaguely ‘crafty’ since my late teens, and they were so fun and easy I got to thinking about how cute some felty-hearts could be.

White on black felt heart
White on black felt heart

After doing a quick search on Google for heart patterns, I printed out a few and bought some felt at my local mercantile and there you go. The red on white heart is really the cutest I think, though it’s difficult to tell with the grainy photos.

Black on red felt heart
Black on red felt heart

I have made some various little hearts to send out as Valentines using different color combinations like red on pink with multi-colored sparkles, pink on red with white…once I get them all done I’ll probably get some photos up. If you are not terribly sewing-inclined, really, this is a simple and fun project that anyone can do (before doing this the most sewing I’d ever done was attaching my ribbons & elastics to my points & ballet slippers!).