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Diaper cakes – not as expensive or difficult as you’d think.

Babies babies everywhere! Thankfully not mine, but I guess I’m at that age where everyone decides to spit out a baby. For one of these babies, I have been given the task of planning a baby shower. We are having it at a restaurant in a corner of the main room, so I didn’t want to go crazy with big decorations. I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money on decorations that would be used once and then thrown away. So what’s a girl to do? Yup, that’s right! Diaper cakes!

I have always wanted to make a diaper cake but thought it would be a lot of work and a lot of money. Well, yes, making a diaper cake is not cheap. For each cake, I bought the jumbo packs of diapers (with two $2 coupons and a $5 Target gift card when you buy 2 packs). I bought two different sizes (size 1 and 2 – not newborn) so I could make two different sized cakes. Then I realized I needed decorations for the cakes…..there came another $30 for those. Lastly, you need ribbon – turns out it’s not as cheap as I thought it would be – at least $5 per roll (but you can save money by buying it at Michael’s with a 50% off coupon!). Oh, also if you don’t work in an office where you can borrow rubber bands (your recipient will have no use for almost hundred rubber bands once she uses the diapers!), you will have to purchase really large and small rubber bands as well.

By the time you turn around you have spent around $45 on each cake. Fortunately, all of the stuff you purchased can be used again. So, when I say diaper cakes are not expensive as you think, I mean buying one. The ones you buy aren’t that much more in cost and are beautifully wrapped in cellophane AND delivered right to your door!

That being said, making a diaper cake is actually super easy. For this shower, I made two different types of cakes – the first one used a fanned out method and the second one used the more common rolled type method.

I used this tutorial for the fanned out method.

2014-10-14 09.30.09I bought a set of 4 round cake pans from Bed Bath & Beyond thinking I could return them afterwards, but I decided they might be useful in the future so I kept them. I followed the directions in the tutorial and was done with the diaper formation in under 20 minutes. I needed 4 yards of ribbon. I wanted the ribbon tight so I sewed it closed, so I could ensure it wouldn’t slip like tape.  Because I found that cute Octopus to top the cake and it was kind of large, I decided to not insert extra toys into the rest of the cake.

The cake was a bit boring with just the octopus and ribbon, so I went online and found some sea themed characters which I printed and glued to manila folders. I then cut out the shapes and used Elmer’s glue to attach them to the cake. I used paper clips to hold them on while the glue dried. Sizing and cutting out the attachments took much longer than any other part. I spaced it out over a few days so I would get frustrated and rush through.

The only real problem I had with this cake was that the diapers had decorations on them (I never bought diapers before, so I didn’t realize that the cartoon character on the box meant that it would be on the diaper as well.) Fortunately the diapers had blue on them so I was able to incorporate that theme into the design of the cake.

 

For the common rolled diaper cake, I used this tutorial 
2014-10-11 22.30.45This method was much more time consuming. I did it while watching television so it wasn’t too annoying, but it definitely took more time. I decided to make this cake only three tiers because I hid a bottle of wine in the middle of the cake. The diapers I used for this cake were the smaller diapers and had a green design on them. This worked well with the jungle theme I had chosen, but it was pure luck that I didn’t get pink or purple diapers which would have ruined the theme of either cake.

This cake was more difficult to keep together, but it wasn’t hard….just a little clumsy. Basically wrap the large rubber band around a few diapers and the bottle and insert the rest one at a time…..don’t try to form them all and then wrap the rubber band around – you’ll just have diapers fall over everywhere.

I thought this cake looked a little plain with just the ribbon and toys, so I stuck in a few woodland creatures as well.

 

Overall, I think the cake pan fanning method is much easier and more pleasing to the eye. Oh another tip – be sure to get ribbon that is not see through. I first bought really pretty blue ribbon, not realizing it was sheer and when I tried to use it, you could see the rubber band – not attractive at all! Also, for large diapers, you’ll want a 2.5 inch ribbon; for the smaller diapers, you can get away with a 1.5 inch ribbon.

Happy crafting!

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Adventures in Hiking – Eagle Rock Reservation – 9/11 Memorial

This hike has many good things going for it. Number one is the view. It is a great place to view the fall foliage, the freedom tower and even the Verrazano Bridge. It seems like it would be good in all seasons and is an easy hike with very few uphill sections. The only negative would be for people unsteady on their feet – several sections have loose rocks on the path, but if you use a walking stick, I would think you should be fine.

Yellow Trail

Yellow Trail

Red Trail

Red Trail

 

I should never say to myself “wow this trail has so many markers!” because I always jinx myself. The directions on the NY/NJ Trail Conference Site and the trail markers were great until I got to the blue trail. My first confusion was confirming that I was supposed to follow the trail at the last house. I don’t know why but that tripped me up (maybe it had to do with the off-leash dog attacking my leashed dog).

Check out this cool treehouse as you enter the blue trail

Check out this cool treehouse as you enter the blue trail

Once I started on the blue trail, I had very few problems (one downed tree made me search harder for the further marker) (switchbacks were also fine and clear) until I passed the stone bridge and ended up in a maze of trees where the trail bears left.

I felt so lost that I nearly started to panic (yes an overreaction, I could have just backtracked to the other trails or the street, but I wanted to continue on). In that area of mass trees, the trail is barely clear (at least in October with leaves everywhere) and there are several possible options of similar looking ground. There is no next blue marker in sight for a while. I made 4 wrong starts and needed to backtrack to the blue left turn marker to start over before I finally tredged ahead on the correct trail for a while (after pulling up Google maps and seeing that I would at least be heading towards a road) and I finally found the next blue marker. It was a very exciting moment for me. You may have heard me yell “BLUE!”   🙂

After that the trail was again obvious with markers on both trees and rocks to help you navigate your way uphill along large flat rocks to a clear intersection at the yellow trail.

I found the trail to be very clean with not much debris (if you see debris when hiking, how about you pick it up and throw it away!). The trails were rocky and I did turn my ankles a bit but I blame myself because I was only wearing sneakers (that I also used to hike Macchu Picchu) but I didn’t have them tied tightly. None of my minor stumbles were enough for me to bother bending down and tying them better, so the rocks must not be that bad!

On a Wednesday morning in October, there were not many people around and it was a peaceful and mostly enjoyable hike.

Also, the views from the 9/11 memorial area are amazing even on an overcast day. They did a very nice job with the memorial. I even saw a big buck hanging out there.

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Squint down under the edge of the red tree to find the buck

Squint down under the edge of the red tree to find the buck

How I made a cat bed from a vintage suitcase

Several years ago I inherited a couple of ugly old school suitcases from my grandmother’s estate. Personally, I loved them and knew I would find a use for them. Initially I built a stand and used them as a nightstand / storage unit, but then I saw some posts about using them to make cat furniture. Well that settled that.

I first set the suitcase on the floor to see if the cats would actually use the bed. As you can see from the picture below, Freddie in particular loved it.

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I thought it looked a bit plain just sitting on the floor and I was nervous that they would knock the ugly stick over and decapitate themselves like my hamster did when I was a kid (side note, don’t use a brick to keep your hamster’s cage cover on), so I headed to the hardware store to find some legs. Turns out legs are expensive so I picked the cheapest of the ones I liked (4 for around $12 total) and spray painted them with some metallic paint I had laying around.

I first tried to just attach them to the suitcase by drilling four holes in the bottom and sticking them in, but this resulted in no stability – the suitcase just collapsed to the floor. I had to wait until the weekend when I would see my dad, so I could steal, I mean borrow and never give back, a few pieces of wood and a saw. Okay, okay, I admit it. As usual, when my dad knew I was doing a project that involved sawing, he stepped in and helped me out…..okay okay, he did it for me….but I stood there and watched!

My idea was to cut four pieces of wood and place them inside of the suitcase to stabilize the material. My dad, the genius handyman that he is, pointed out without nuts, it would still wobble. Off to the hardware store we went. With the proper tools, the rest of the project went pretty quickly. He even cut another piece of wood to lay on top of the four stabilizers so that the cats would have a flatter surface to lay on in case they pushed the pillow out of the way. Yay Daddy!

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To ensure the lid didn’t decapitate the cats, we wedged a few pieces of wood in the hollow space between the top and the bottom pieces.

The final step in this process was to enlarge the pillow I was planning on using. I cut open the back of the pillow and sewed on a piece of old t-shirt. This way the top shows the pretty satin blue colored fabric, but the entire suitcase and edges would be comfy.

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The final bed looks pretty cute, if I say so myself! However, I have only seen a cat jump onto it to take some of the catnip I sprinkled on it. I guess they prefer low-key designs instead of the fancy stuff.:(

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PS My parents’ dog, Jack, liked the bed just fine, so maybe I should give it to him for Christmas!

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Master of sewing – Earbud pouch

Since I have become a master sewer after one month of practice, I have been scouring the web for projects to tackle. One of the projects I came across is this nifty earbud pouch.

Usually I just shove my headphones somewhere in my purse and then yank out half the contents of my purse trying to get out the tangled mess they easily become. This pouch was going to fix all that.

However……..I may have overstated when I said I was a master sewer. Perhaps beginner+ is more like it. For this project, I followed the instructions, cut out the circles and thought I was doing everything great! That is, until I looked at what I thought was the finished product. It wasn’t a circle by any means. I don’t think they have an official shape for what I created!

Instead of a zipper, I decided to just try to overlap the two front panels. Unfortunately, I misjudged the size I would need – I didn’t calculate the space I would need to fold over the inside panel to make it look pretty. The template also was sized to include a zipper, so I should have allowed for even more extra flap than I did – I forgot about that. Oops!

In any case, I just tightened up the edges so that it would mostly stay closed, and it seems to be doing its job. If I find that the headphones fall out, I will simply add a button and a small piece of crochet thread to latch it closed. Easy Peasy!

After this picture was taken, I also added a small carabiner so that I could easily move the pouch from purse to purse!

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Fall Foliage – New York’s Route 97

While away in the Catskills this weekend, I wanted to take advantage of the time of year and check out the beautiful fall foliage. I wasn’t sure where the best driving views would be, so I Googled and found out that the road right down the block from my house was listed as having a great view! Lucky me!

Instead of just taking a scenic drive, we decided to take the road less traveled home and drove down Route 97 from Hankins to Port Jervis to enjoy the views along the way. What’s great about the drive is that there are several roadside pull-offs with great views.

The foliage this year seems a bit “off”. Some maps say we are past peak, others say we are at peak. I just was happy to not have missed it altogether.

Here are a few shots (The colors were much better in person. The sun was in a bad position for well-lit shots, but you’ll get the gist):

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Adventures in Hiking – Hoffman Park (aka ticks ticks and more ticks!)

Hiking in Hoffman Park will go down in history as the first hike I have done where I never once felt like I was lost! Woohoo! Perhaps I am making progress…..or perhaps the trails were so worn and wide and obvious that I couldn’t help but stay on track.2014-10-15 10.57.55

By staying on track, I mean wandering around, missing the turns I was supposed to make, etc. So I guess technically I was off the hiking trail pathway that was listed in Hiking with Dogs, New Jersey. In any case, the hike was a really nice, non-taxing walk, albeit a bit boring. Aside from a few tiny lakes, some hawks, one lone deer and a caterpillar, I didn’t really see anything too interesting. I did purposely veer off the trail from the book since the map posted online pointed out the other trails in between were easily accessible and wouldn’t add much mileage to the hike. The fall foliage was quite pretty to look at though, so I think the hike was worth the time.2014-10-15 11.03.22 2014-10-15 12.13.46.

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Oh! What I did see was a tick on Mimi that I was able to swat off and we were lucky enough to take at least one giant tick home on Eli that I found the next day. Removing that was a huge task. It was stuck on his ear so deeply that I really had to yank it out. I had to enlist the help of a friend for moral support as the ear was so red and inflamed that I was nervous and needed an assist!

It didn’t help that I think Eli had a reaction to the flea and tick treatment I gave him the night before after the hike. He was shaking and breathing weird and was basically glued to my side the whole day.

I guess the lesson learned from this hike was do not stray from the path like I did and take the tick warning signs very seriously. Also make sure that your dogs are up to date on their lyme vaccine and flea/tick treatments.  PS. find one that your dog does not have an adverse reaction to.

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Perhaps it’s really the bat trail?

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Adventures in Hiking – Bouchoux Trail (Jensen’s Ledges) – Lordville, NY

Labor day weekend is always bittersweet. It’s a long weekend away from work, filled with friends and activities, but it also means the summer is coming to an end. For this year’s weekend, I decided to enjoy the time by going on a quick hike a few miles from my home in Upstate New York.

To get to the Bouchoux Trail (Jensen’s Ledges) (I don’t believe those GPS coordinates are correct by the way as they send you to Pennsylvania.) travel on Route 97 north of Long Eddy and South of Hancock, turn at the Lordville sign onto Lordville Road. Take the road to the T-intersection where you will see an old white building with separate entrances for ladies and gents, then turn left. You will see a bridge on your right side and a dead end sign in front of you. Go straight onto that dead end road (Bouchouxville Road). Travel to the end where you will find the trailhead. Along this road, you will see interesting sights like houses – both run down and beautiful and hunters with guns and bows & arrows. Also be prepared for speeding cars even though there is barely space for two cars on the road. You may even encounter a ghost (see details on Lordville at the end of this blog).

The official trails are on private property but open to the public. There are two trails – the one that leads up to the ledges and another that leads down to the river. Both are clear and defined and have security cameras, so behave yourselves! On the river trail, there’s even a picnic bench and bbq which I assume belongs to the property owner and should not be used. The river trail splits into two where you can climb up to the railroad tracks and down the other side through a cut path in the bushes or you can walk under the tracks through the water to the rocky entrance to the Delaware. Climbing up to the tracks will give you a beautiful panoramic view of the river and fields below.

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The river trail is a great walk for people steady on their feet. You will encounter slippery rocks in the river or a steep ascent and descent if you go over the tracks, but a five month pregnant woman had no trouble maneuvering through. It would also be a nice place to sit on some rocks and watch the boats go by.

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The more difficult trail is the one up to the ledges. It has a pretty steep ascent right at the beginning and it feels uphill most of the way. I have gone to the top twice and have always had to take a break ¾ of the way through. Working to get to the top is worth it. The views are beautiful and the formations that have been created are awesome. There is also a waterfall and great place to sit and have a picnic. (Note the pictures below were taken in October 2013.)

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The town of Lordville also has its own interesting points. When we were leaving Bouchouxville Road, I noticed a mannequin in the top floor window of the house near the corner. It was spooky and eerie, but it made me think that perhaps there was more to Lordville’s story than first appears. When driving through Lordville, it seems like perhaps it is a hippie town with peace signs and artwork; however, the story goes much deeper. I found this Tumblr site where I learned that there is a documentary of Lordville and a history of ghost encounters. Being in Lordville gives you the feeling that you are in a bit of a time warp. One day I hope to explore it further.

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