Bread & Butter Quilt

SONY DSCMy roommate from freshman year of college just had her first baby, the third of my close friends from freshman year to procreate this year.  We’ve stayed in touch over the years; she’ll randomly send me a little email here and there and they just brighten my day so much.  She’s always been one of the nicest people I know.

So, of course, when she emailed me early on in the year to let me know that she was expecting, I wanted to go all out for her and her wee one.  I had plenty of notice, so I really sat down and thought about what to make.  I recalled a quilt pattern I’d seen in a book I borrowed from the library while we were living in Australia, and luckily, I remembered the name of the book, Two From One Jelly Roll Quilts, by Pam and Nicky Lintott, and even more luckily, the book was available on Amazon.com (so many Australian books cannot be obtained stateside, but this one was British!), so I ordered it, took a glance at the pattern, chuckled at its cleverness, and committed.

Her nursery has been decorated with an alphabet and storybook theme, and she said she was fond of polka dots, and then she found out she was having a girl, and the Bread & Butter fabric collection popped into my mind’s eye, and I knew we had a winner.

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I’ve been in a lot of pain for the past couple of months so progress on this quilt was very slow.  It was decided that I would have another surgery to help with the problem, and when I finally got a surgery date scheduled, I just had a feeling that I really needed to get this to the binding stage before I went under the knife.  I had to enlist the help of my bestie, Denise, to cheer me on and encourage me, and we hosted a couple weeks’ worth of “Epic Sewing Thursdays” where we’d text pictures back and forth to each other every hour or so to show our progress on our respective projects.  You sure can get a lot done when you’re working “alongside” friends!

My check-in for surgery was at 12:45pm on Election Tuesday, and I was finishing up the machine-stitching portion of the binding at 10:30am.  Why fret about surgery and politics when you can focus on making pretty things for babies?

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The hand binding took two days, and the quilt label took lots of minutes over lots of days because my surgery ended up being a little more invasive than originally planned, and I was put on bed rest for five weeks instead of “three days of resting” afterwards.  Bah.  (Which is also why you’re getting quilt photos in front of the Christmas Tree…I wasn’t allowed to leave the house, ha ha.)

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But in the end, the result was the same:  A beautiful baby quilt for a beautiful baby girl, who has a beautiful mother with one of the kindest hearts you’ve ever met.

Congratulations, Stephanie and Jon, on the start of your family.  Welcome to your life, Baby Sydney…look to your mother’s example and you’ll do well.

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Bed Rest, Weeks 1-3

Sooooo…

…had some surgery in November, which wasn’t supposed to take that long to recover from, but then, at the one-week follow-up appointment, my doctor broke the news that I needed to stay in bed for another five weeks.  So I went from expecting one week of lying around to SIX WEEKS.  DURING THE HOLIDAYS.

The six-week follow-up appointment happens during the week before Christmas, so I’m pretty much stuck in bed, drooling over all the gorgeous Instagram posts of beautiful Christmas quilts and lamenting that I can’t finish all the stuff that I promised myself that I was going to finally finish up this year.  2016 has not been a banner year for me, people.

BUT…I do not want to be one of those people who mopes about and whines about their difficulties, so that has meant trying to stay “busy” despite the bed rest.

Week #1:

I spent the days leading up to my surgery frantically finishing up a quilt to the point where I’d only have the hand stitching of the binding left to do.  During my first week post-op, I finished hand stitching the binding.  Then I designed some alterations for a dress I own that’s too short on me, and, inspired by the idea of sewing clothing, I read Couture Sewing Techniques, which then had me researching Christian Dior-everything for a few days.

Week #2:

After receiving the very unexpected news of another five weeks of bed rest, I panicked and decided to start a Christmas EPP quilt, but after finishing two of the blocks I realized that I didn’t actually want to make it and abandoned it.  I’ll keep the blocks for something else in the future.

Then I decided that the quilt label for the quilt I’d just finished binding could use a little extra pizazz, so I opted to embroider parts of it, which took the rest of the week and little of the next.  (There is a lot of napping happening during my day.)

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I also read The Art of Manipulating Fabric, and Draping: The Complete Course.  I’m seeing some garment construction in my future, and I’m excited.  I have three daughters who are about to embark upon their teenage years, and I’ve always thought that one of the funnest parts of having girls would be making their party and dance dresses, and it’s always good to practice a skill before you actually *need* it, so maybe next year will see me venture into that arena a bit.

Week #3:

Thanksgiving, which had to be delegated to my kids and they did a pretty great job of it.  A friend from my quilt guild saw my SOS Instagram post and brought me over a ton of books to read, so I spent most of my third week reading:

  1. A Curse Dark as Gold (very good retelling of “Rumpelstiltskin!”)
  2. Dragonfly (enjoyed very much!)
  3. Once Upon a Marigold (not sure I’ll finish it), and
  4. The Blue Sword (enjoying)

So here we are, amidst Week #4, and I was really hoping that my doctor’s “six weeks” prescription was just overly cautious, but I tried to sew up the swap block for November this week and it about killed me with pain and exhaustion to just do a fabric pull, so I had to send out an email apologizing for the block’s tardiness because it will not be getting finished anytime soon.  And, as a precaution, I wrote to December’s swap recipient as well and gave her a heads-up that her block could end up being late as well.  Sigh.

BUT…I woke up from this surgery with NO BACK PAIN for the first time in three years, so the future is looking mighty bright!  I can rest three more weeks if it means no back pain.

And, for Week #4, I’m feeling the knitting a-calling to me…especially:

  • Color-Tipped Italian Cashmere Beanie by Churchmouse Yarns (because it’s beautiful in that wonderfully elegant way that “simple” is beautiful)
  • Honeymoon Cowl by FitzBirch Crafts (learning double knit could be fun)
  • Botanical Yoke Pullover by Purl Soho (oh, that cabled yoke…will have to wait, but it’s sure fun to stare at it when I can)
  • St. Brendan by Kelbourne Woolens (I’m making this some day, but not now because it takes some planning), or
  • Socks! (Because I can do that…)

My son does need a new winter hat…I think my second daughter might need one, too…OH! And I was supposed to mend my youngest daughter’s Hello Kitty hat…bed rest or not, a mama’s work is never done.  I cannot wait to get back to making pancakes, and vacuuming, and cooking dinners that don’t come from a box.  Resting is a nice change, but it’s sucky to be forced to rest from taking care of the people you love.

AGF Stitched with Kimberly: “Blithe” quilt pattern

Hello again!  It’s time for another round of AGF Stitched with Kimberly, featuring a new pattern and some lovely Art Gallery Fabrics!

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The new pattern this time is called “Blithe,” and the Fat Quarter Shop version used a new fabric collection called Chalk & Paint, which, when I first saw it during those gray, cold days of late January, just filled me with so much excitement over the eventual arrival of spring that I decided to make a spring-colored version myself.

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I went with a bunch of fabrics from the Paperie collection and the Playing Pop collection, with a few selections from the Millie Fleur collection as well, paired with the solid “Icy Mint” from the Pure Elements line.

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I really liked the look of this pattern, but I had the idea to scale it down and decided to go with it.  Instead of six-inch blocks, I scaled it down by 50% to make three-inch blocks, and made some cheerful throw pillows.  The pillows measure 18.5 inches square.

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Love it.  The pattern used Triangles on a Roll, which I’d always wanted to give a try, so there was some extra fun in doing that–I think if I need to mass-produce HSTs in the future that I’ll go this route again.

I’ve been obsessed with pebbling quilting for a few months now, so I decided to take the plunge and give it try as well.  I used Aurifil 50 in “Medium Mint” for pebbling on the mint sections, and Aurifil 50 in “Natural White” to outline quilt the prints.  Using the darker mint thread really brought out the green tones of the Icy Mint fabric, which was neat.

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To help you out with making your own Blithe quilt, the Fat Quarter Shop has assembled two kits using that fabulous Chalk & Paint fabric collection:

Blithe Quilt Kit

Backing Set for Blithe Quilt Kit

And, the pattern is free, and you can get your own copy by clicking here.

There’s also a video explaining the pattern more in-depth.  Enjoy!

In exchange for creating this project, Art Gallery Fabrics provided me with the fabric.  Thank you to both Art Gallery Fabrics, and to the Fat Quarter Shop for allowing me the opportunity to sew up another beautiful pattern with such great fabrics!

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It Begins: Journal Covers for my Activity Days Girls

I serve as a leader for my church’s Activity Days program, which is basically our version of Girl Scouts for girls ages 8-11 years old.  When they turn twelve years old, they advance into the Young Women’s program, and we say good-bye.

I started serving in this position last spring, and we haven’t had any of the girls turn twelve in that time until now…and it just so happens that it is my very own daughter who is advancing.

SONY DSCServing as Activity Days leader when my girl is moving up is interesting because I have firsthand observations as to what would actually be valuable to her at this point in her life, and then I can apply that knowledge to the other girls as they reach this age.  And since you really do fall in love with these girls as you teach them and spend time with them, you want to give something to them when they leave, and the Young Women’s organization seems to be pretty big on keeping a journal, so I decided to go with making journal covers for my advancing twelve year olds.

This week was my daughter’s last Activity Days meeting, as she turns twelve in February, so we said our good-byes and presented her with her journal cover that will hopefully see her through to adulthood and beyond.

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I used Lori Holt’s journal cover pattern that can be found over at AllPeopleQuilt.com.  I’m planning on making a lot of these over the next few years (seven alone this year), so I think in the future I’m going to size it down to fit a composition book–this particular pattern fits your  basic full page journal ($15 +/-), which my Activity Days budget cannot handle purchasing for each advancing girl.  But a $2 composition book for each girl?  You betcha, and it will be so easy to replace those journals as the girls fill them up during their angst-filled teenage years of seeking solitude in writing their emotions.

I used a lot of fabric from a fat quarter bundle of Wee Wander fabrics that I bought specifically for my daughter a year or two ago.  She’s big into blues and greens and absolutely loved the collection, but then I gifted her the “Locket” quilt for Christmas, so I probably won’t be making a Wee Wander quilt for her anymore.  Which means I can start using it in other projects, and what better project than one meant for her?

The gingham is from Tasha Noel’s “The Simple Life” collection, and the other three non-Wee Wander prints inside the journal cover are from the years when I wasn’t paying attention to the names of fabric collections, and were conveniently missing their selvages, so I don’t know their names.  (That hexagon one, though…it’s on the tip of my tongue…Riley Blake?)  And the coral tile-looking print…I think it had something to do with Ty Pennington.)

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Front inside pocket

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Back inside pocket

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Back outside cover

SONY DSCThe navy strip on the top of the cover is from Pat Bravo’s “Dare” collection, leftover from binding the “Locket” quilt, and used when I cut my cover fabric the wrong size…good thing we quilters aren’t scared by that sort of mistake, eh?

The “e” on the front cover was cut with my Silhouette Cameo (font = Garamond), and then I just slowly machine straight-stitched it onto the pocket.  We’ll see how it stands up to wear-and-tear; it is backed with some fusible webbing to try to avoid fraying.

It’s a cute little thing, and I hope it gets a lot of use!

I’m going to be the mother of a twelve year old in a matter of weeks.  Goodness me.  Hopefully she’ll have journals filled with happy memories and wise lessons…

Linking up:
Made by You Mondays @ skiptomylou.org
Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Needle & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

 

 

Layers of Charm “Flower Sugar” Quilt

Top-10-VIdeosHappy New Year everyone!  In celebration of the new year, Fat Quarter Shop decided to showcase their top ten YouTube videos from 2015, and the Layers of Charm pattern was one of them.  It is a very easy pattern to stitch!

 

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I chose to make my Layers of Charm quilt using the very pretty Flower Sugar 10″ Origami Square pack, and paired it with a White Bella Solids Charm Pack I had on hand.

Every time I’ve seen a Layers of Charm quilt, I’ve always noticed those middle diamonds, and I’ve always thought that they made perfect little blank canvases for some embellishment, so I went with it and added a redwork rose to my center diamond:

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I simply traced a vintage roses pattern (found all over the internet) onto the fabric, and then used some DMC cotton perle #8 in color #321 to stem stitch the design.  I think it goes perfectly with the Flower Sugar “look.”

I then did some double diagonal lines of quilting with 40 weight Aurifil thread in color #2250, and I love how they cross each other!

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I loved making this quilt, and it turned out so beautiful!

If you’d like to watch the Layers of Charm video, here it is:

And, the pattern is FREE and you can download it here: http://static.fatquartershop.com/media/wysiwyg/pdf/LayersofCharm.pdf

One layer cake + one charm pack.  Simple.

Also, if you head on over to the Fat Quarter Shop’s Jolly Jabber blog, they’re offering a $100 gift certificate giveaway in connection with this #FQSTop10 event.  Go find out how to enter!

Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop, for this great pattern and the opportunity to share it with others!

But, wait!  Others are making the Layers of Charm quilt and showing it off today!  Go check ’em out:

Tina of Emily Ann’s Kloset
Tricia of Notes of Sincerity
Anorina of Samelia’s Mum
Erica of Kitchen Table Quilting
Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation
Cara of That Crafty Cara
Connie of Free Motion by the River
Gerri of Planted Seed Designs
Shruti of 13 Woodhouse Road

Linking up:
Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Needles & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

Randomly in November

  1. I saw the sign-ups for the Bee Hive Swap in time this year, and got in!  :::happy dance:::  So excited!
  2. My own swap group that I’m running liked it so much that a bunch want to do it again next year!  So, busy with setting that up at the moment.
  3. Yeah, two year-long swaps…talk to me at the end of next year.  🙂
  4. I wrote up an exhaustive inventory of the many works-in-progress taking up space in my craft room, and then hammered out a plan to plough through almost all of them in the next year.
  5. The first WIP that will reach completion as a result of my awesome new plan is probably a pair of socks that I started back in Australia.

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  6. A newly-finished pair of socks right now is kind of perfect, given that the snow has started.  I was actually thinking the socks would be a Christmas present for someone dear to me, but my feet are freakin’ freezing, so I’m going to keep them.  Mwa ha ha.
  7. The second WIP that will probably get finished is a baby boy quilt I started almost eight years ago.

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    The kid in this photo is Penguin, who is now nine years old.  She’s drinking from the mug I received after giving birth to Junebug, who is now seven-and-a-half years old…

  8. It’s funny how you can start a project with so much excitement, but with each passing year of not completing said project how much that excitement turns into resentment and shame.  So much so that I definitely don’t want to keep the quilt when I’m done, but fear the repercussions of giving a new life an item infused with so many negative feelings from myself.  The act of giving wipes off all the bad juju, right?  Right?

  9. I’ve also fleshed out a “Baby Gift Flowchart” to help me decide what to make for tiny humans on my radar.  In this age of social media, I find that I’m inundated with the awareness of many a pregnancy, and the baby-lovin’ crafter part of me really wants to make something for every one of them.  However, given the physical limitations of time, I can’t.  So I came up with a way to shrink the pool a bit and ease my conscience.  A line had to be drawn somewhere, or I’d never be done with making baby gifts.

    Baby Gift Flowchart

  10. I’m currently aware of nine pregnancies, and of three women trying to get pregnant.  That’s twelve impending births in the next year.  My flowchart narrows the gifts down to five recipients, which is still a lot, but gives me back a bunch of time.  I am raising four children of my own…
  11. My son broke the teeth off of the zipper of his winter parka the first day he wore it.  Of course.  Even better, he broke off enough teeth that the actual zipper pull fell off, too.  So, instead of working on WIPs, my time is needed to repair a zipper in a parka.
  12. Once again, making plans is a dumb idea.

Snowflake Trapunto Pillow

Forget Me Not Rollie PollieIf you’ve been following me on Instagram (@thatcraftycara), you saw my announcement a few weeks ago that I was asked to be a “Fabric Ambassador” for Calico Cat Fabrics.  My first “assignment” arrived a few days after the announcement:  a rollie pollie of the “Forget Me Not” fabric collection by Sue Daley and made by Penny Rose fabrics.

My knee jerk idea for the fabric was to add a little red and go the patriotic route, but I knew I couldn’t get something made up fast enough for the approaching Fourth of July weekend, so I didn’t want to spend my time making something that would then sit in a box for a year.

So I sat that little roll of fabric on my cutting table and we had a showdown.

The fabric won.

Exasperated, I went to bed.

But the next morning…ah, dear readers, the power of the early morning walk.  I had too many ideas, and I eventually had an epiphany regarding how to deal with these cuts of fabric that will be making their way to me:  Forget that it’s an assignment and act like it’s a gift.  THEN make something that I’d want to make, rather than what I thought others wanted me to make.  I mean, I was selected for the role based upon the things I was making for my own amusement, so it’d probably work out well to keep up with how I was already doing things, right?

I asked myself what I would make if no one was ever going to see that roll of fabric ever again, and a vision flashed through my mind.  The blues of the fabric collection made for a good snow-themed project.  Never mind that it was June, the fabric wanted to be used for wintertime purposes.  So I listened to the fabric, paired it with a fat quarter of white-on-white snowflake print, found a quilt block with a large chunk of negative space in its center (“Star and Chains” from The Quilter’s Cache), and plunged forward.

Close-up of That Crafty Cara's Snowflake Trapunto Pillow

I’d seen mentions of “trapunto” quilting, or “stuffed quilting,” in random corners of the blogosphere, and I’d always thought it was pretty, and I thought the technique would make for some extra prettiness on this particular project.  It wasn’t hard at all, and I’m totally planning on using this technique to beef up some of my future quilting projects!

I chose a simple snowflake shape for the trapunto portion of the pillow:

Trapunto quilting

Snowflake Trapunto Pillow featuring

Patchwork pillow featuring

This pillow used five of the fabric strips from the roll, leaving sixteen left over, so I have a second project in the works using up the other sixteen strips.  I thought I’d make a second pillow at first, but I’d used up most of the dark strips on this pillow alone, and I didn’t want a pillow with less contrast.  So, I’m dusting off a pattern I’ve had my eye on for a year and giving it a go with the leftovers.  Two projects from one little rollie pollie!

Thank you so much, Calico Cat Fabrics, for allowing me the opportunity to work with you and to stretch my creative muscles a bit.  I’m looking forward to our future projects together!

And, yes, I’m writing up a tutorial about trapunto quilting that I hope to share with you next week!  See you then!

Linking up with:
Link a Finish Friday @ Richard and Tanya Quilts
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts

Because I "Have Time" Now for Mending

My school-aged kids attend school now, in case you missed the update.  That being said, I have a lot more time for things that I’ve been somewhat content to ignore for many years.

Case in point:  Mending.

Of course, the moment I spent a bucket of cash on school uniforms, all the girls started literally ripping through their other clothes.  I am determined to not buy clothes while we’re here in Australia, mostly because I’m trying to save money to buy massive amounts of winter clothing when we land back in the States in the middle of winter, and also because most of the clothes that are wearing out are old, and on their last recipient (Junebug).

However, I have a thing about throwing away fabric.  I can’t do it.  If we were home, I’d launch all these into the fabric stash pile, to be used in some fashion in a future sewing project.  But we’re not home, and I’m not going to transport ripped clothing halfway around the world, so I decided, since I “have time” now, to see if I could fix the offending articles.

Armed with a few Pinterest images, and some handy how-to from The Beating Hearth, I mended this pair of Junebug’s pants, backing the hole with her “favorite” fabric that I’m using in her Star Spangled Diamonds quilt.  I extended the darning out quite a bit, as the fabric of her pants is very thin throughout the entire lower leg.

Pleased with my progress, I tackled a pair of Bluebird’s pants, which still have to last through two more girls:

That one didn’t turn out as well; I should have cut away the loose threads.  Ah, well.  I’m amused by the “Utah-shaped” darning.

Inside shot:

I’m still learning, but I’ve managed to save two pairs of pants with my mediocre skill!  That’s a skill in which to invest!  I’m unsure about the weaving part when you’re done with the lines of stitching…it seems unnecessary.

Of course, mending takes time, which meant I wasn’t able to work on my other creative projects as much as usual, so progress on those was small this last week.  But I saved two pairs of pants, which is totally worth a little delay on extra-curriculars.  (At least, it’s worth it to me.)  Also, it’s surprisingly satisfying to mend clothing.  Maybe I’ll try to unearth some articles out of the stash pile when we return home?

Green & Pink Hexie Applique

The long sides of my little bag are pieced, and now I’m working on appliqueing the teeny hexie strips to their proper places.  I decided to go with the hopscotch print for the main fabric of the bag because I just love it so much, it should be the main fabric, right?  Let’s just hope my girls don’t think that the bright pink earmarks it as only appropriate for the under-thirty crowd.

I do my handwork while listening to my kids recite their various school facts, or else I go insane sitting and listening to the things I recited as a young school child.  (The brain can only take so much–when you start in on the third kid’s schooling, you’re just kind of done.)  BUT, during my second grader’s math lesson, these little hexagons came in handy:

It was a lesson on angles, and she’d forgotten how many angles a hexagon had.  Hee hee.  Crafty teacher mama for the win!

Linking up with the Monday Morning Star Count at Life Under Quilts, and Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation.

Bluebird’s 9th Birthday: Baking Party!

It was during the week after Christmas–you know, when you’re fighting the urge to be sad that the big day is over, and you’re kind of euphoric with all the lofty New Year’s Resolutions to which you’re thinking about committing–that I found myself obsessed with the idea of throwing each of my kids their dream birthday parties in 2013.  We don’t do a lot of birthday partying in Brooketopia, mostly due to cost and logistics (newborn babies every two years will do that to you), but here we were going into a new year with no new babies…the idea sounded feasible.
 
Bluebird and I sat down to gorge ourselves do a little research on Pinterest birthday ideas, and we happened across a pin of a baking birthday party and she was awestruck.  Culinary celebration, commence!
 

First, we raided the fabric stash and picked out fabrics that somewhat coordinated with each other, and then I settled in for three weeks’ of sewing aprons for Bluebird and her guests:

Apron B from Little Retro Aprons by Cindy Taylor Oates
(Yes, you’ve seen this pattern on the blog before, both the child’s version AND the adult version–I’m totally in love with it.)

Then we hurried about with all the other preparations (amidst all the ear infection fun we were also dealing with at the time) and Bluebird bounced off the walls as she counted down the days until her party.

Finally, the Big Day of Baking Fun arrived…

…but first the girls had to stop and adore Baxter for a few minutes before I could entice them towards the birthday fun.  (After insisting they wash their hands after touching the dog.)

First, they made cupcake liner flower pins to adorn their new aprons, then we gathered in the kitchen to make mini pizzas for lunch.

While waiting for the pizzas to bake, the girls made fruit kabobs which they then drizzled with milk and white chocolate:

 

I had hired two of the young women in our ward to help me out, and they cleaned up the lunch mess while the party girls watched Bluebird open her presents in the living room.  Then, while the party girls decorated cake boxes, my helpers finished tinting batches of frosting for the finale of the party:

Man, a gang of 8-9 year old girls can pick up the basics of cake decorating pretty quick!  Candies, marshmallows, sprinkles…we had it all and they had a blast creating their own dream cakes.

After decorating cakes, we sat down to enjoy Bluebird’s actual birthday cake, complete with raucous singing and laughing:

Hardly anyone wanted any cake after the candles were blown out because they had just spent the past three hours stuffing their faces with candy, pizza and frosting.  No biggie, just more left over for the other Brookelets when they returned home!

Nine years old.  Bluebird, you’ve been with us for almost a decade!  You bring me so much joy, and I’m happy to indulge your lofty ideas.  You are such a creative spirit and I look forward to fleshing out more of your big birthday plans in the future.