Jerusalem Day Cake

12 June 2013 15:16 by SarainAkko 0 comments

I volunteered myself to make a cake for a first grade class party... but really I was looking for a project. Although not the most clean cut cake decoration, it's not the worst thing I've thrown together either.

Step One: Cut Jerusalem out of gum-paste, sugar dough, fondant or modeling chocolate (whatever)

Step Two: Paint. (Gel food coloring and vodka)

Step Three: Frost to perfectly baked cake.

I think you'll find all the essentials of the Jerusalem experience are featured in this cake, windmill, walls, towers, camel, palms.  And yes, that is the Western Wall made of rice-krispey treats.


Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Ideas. Part II: Cake

13 May 2013 11:52 by SarainAkko 0 comments
After much Googling for the perfect Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday cake, I decided that for baby 3's 1st birthday I would go way over the top with some sugar-dough painting. If you haven't ever worked with fondant or sugar-dough, it helps to look at the dough as clay; sticky, quick drying, finicky clay.

However, I took a slight gamble on painting the individual elements of this caking, hoping it would produce a watercolor-ish, Eric Carle inspired VHC birthday cake.

Here's how it turned out:

I started with a non-dairy pound cake recipe, lots of green gel food coloring.... and more fake "buttercream" frosting than I care to admit.

I think the most inspiring element of the Very Hungry Caterpillar is that the illustrations look vibrant and timeless, so I used the bright dots on the cake as well as in the invitations and other party elements. 

I got so caught up in this enormous cake that took us many weeks to eat (even more to sweat off) that I even made a few dozen cupcakes just in case we didn't e enough batter in our systems. 

The cupcakes were so ridiculously green, the kids weren't even sure if they were allowed to eat them. 

Trust me, they got over they got over their confusion.

The cupcake toppers and wrappers were just a few quick DIY projects, maybe a quick tutorial template to follow? Let me know if anyone is interested.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Ideas. Part I: Invitations

11:00 by SarainAkko 0 comments
How do you throw an entirely successful "Very Hungry Caterpillar" 1st birthday party when you are either on a budget or live in a nation with no caterpillar party accessories in sight?

You say to yourself "Guess I'll just have to whip up a party solely on wit and grit!"

Very Hungry Caterpillar party idea are pretty easy to come by after a few dozen searches. So if your setting out to craft the bajeebeez out of your child's birthday, you're in good company.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Invitations

Although some things absolutely require a good understanding of photoshop and advanced image manipulation, these invites were simple Word creations using graphics found online. Seriously, "Copy, Paste & Rotate," are pretty simple to work with. Stick to the basics and make your own life easier. I saw this layout in a few forums, I'm sorry I don't know who to credit as the crafty mastermind. 

Outside (you're invited)
 Use a straight hole punch for peek-thru fruit

Inside (leaf and party details)

Back- "out came a beautiful butterfly."

Envelope front

Envelope back

All envelope and invitation formatting was achieved through a process of what can only be described as "futzing."

Back to School DIY, Return of the Trapperkeeper

I remember the excitement of new school supplies. The fresh notebooks, the perfect folders and does anyone have a soft spot for Lisa Frank TrapperKeepers?

My oldest began first grade today, proud as pie of her new backpack (nobody in a school of a few hundred girls has one like hers), super stocked about her pencil case and the only caveat is that all her notebooks, folders, pencils must be standard blah blah blah.

Seriously, blah. 

She goes to a school that has asked parents to buy brown paper notebooks, clear covers, yellow #2 pencils and white erasers. No distracting stickers, please! I've never encountered a list that killed the joy of school supplies so thoroughly.

I stuck to the letter of the law when buying her supplies, somehow knowing in the back of my mind that she will come home today and ask why she was the only girl in the entire school with blank and joyless supplies.  No way my motherly cohorts will resist the temptation of colorful store-bought vigor for back to school. I feel it in my bones that no other mother fears pissing off the teacher in the way that I do, but I also know that I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

Of all of the many directions given for supply purchases, the ringed binder did not come with a list of instructions, here's your instructions crazy rigid school supply list!

Tutorial for the best damn homemade fabric covered binder in this school.

1 cheap ringed binder
1 fat quarter
felt scrap
fabric flower pattern
random trimming scraps
needle and thread

Before sewing anything, try to iron out the the fat quarter or fabric scrap you choose as a base, it probably won't help a ton but it may lessen the folds. I didn't prewash because I live on the edge, and because this is fabric for a trapper keeper, not a wearable work of art. 

Measure out the size of your binder when it lays folded and begin folding the edges of your fabric over the top, just as you would if covering a book with a paper-bag. I used packing tape to hold the edges before securing with embroidery thread.

Here's some not too fancy needle work securing the corners of the fabric. If I had stopped here with this step, the cover would have been a pretty weakly secured case as the fabric didn't provide for deep pockets to tuck the edges in.

Enter the rick-a-rack and brick-a-brack for jazzing things up.

I went with my favorite go-to felt peony template for decorations and added some somewhat coordinating ribbon. To secure the ribbon flower strip, I actually used the embroidery needle to sew through the cardboard of the binder in a few strategic places which also reinforce the weak design of the light fabric.

Simple enough right? I might try a larger cut of fabric next time which would be sturdier and interchangeable or more details with embroidery, but for now I'm pretty sure it's cool enough for a first grader. 

update: Hebrew readers will quickly notice what my neighbors all did, the binder opens backwards and turning it makes the butterflies upside down. My bad. 

la vie du cirque abandonné

For some, the circus holds magical memories of childhood captivation and entrancement. For anyone who knows me well, they would probably guess that the razzle dazzle of the circus was simply not for me. The noise, the people, the enourmous tent and large animals are overwhelming to my sensibilities.

But this magical place- Peru Indiana- for me, has the makings of a circus I could wrap my mind around. The home of the circus hall of fame and the winter home of many of America's greats of the big-top, Peru is like a scene from some strange and slightly cautionary children's tale, a mesmerizing and curious world in a bygone time.

Some of my photos from the visit explain better than I ever could.


Odd, mysterious, slightly surreal and almost impossibly existent; this is my kind of circus. 

It's been a long time baby

15 May 2011 10:11 by SarainAkko 2 comments
I've been a little busy as of late. 

Busy working and mothering and living and crafting and nourishing and hosting and cleaning and celebrating and running and occasionally coming up for air. 

This is the part where I take a breath.

Here's a little video I made of my newest creative exploit.


Princess Dress from T-shirts aka Purim on the Cheap

I'm not sure what it is that compels me to make my kid's costume instead of buying them. It just goes against my DIY nature. Also, I'm fairly sure I never had a store bought costume in my lifetime.

So here's the princess dress made entirely out of T-shirts.

Stack of shirts

 Yellow shirt, minus sleeves = skirt

 very tedious cutting = puffy princess sleeves

shirt and skirt set for maximum playability

Sassy Princess (notice the cape)

T-shirt dress = happy princess

Key Fob Quickie, Crafts for the Office Continued

My personal key ring has just undergone some major work-related changes

From this...

To this.

My key ring used to be simple (really simple) but now  it looks like that big old set of janitor keys hanging around some dude's belt. Despite the fact that they are heavy and jingle and slow me down when I'm on the go, I actually do need a surprising amount of these keys on a constant basis now and am forced to find a way to hold them along with all the other junk I tote around at work.

Enter the handcrafted key fob.

The tutorials online abound for this sort of project but as I only have this hardware on hand the project looks something like this:

Find heavy scrap of fabric, sew tube inside out and turn to right side, top stitch into a hand-sized loop. Attach to key ring and top stitch to reinforce. Easily find your less hideous keyring in style.

The close observer may also notice that this is the same scrap of fabric which I used to make my pinch close coin purse that holds my daily travel fare. So now it's a matching set. Find the tutorial of the coin purse remake here.

Next office preparedness craft is a true essential for your desk or purse, not to be missed.