Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fleece Scarf Tutorial

We did figure eights to celebrate daughter Mary Ashley's 8th birthday. Before heading to a local ice skating rink, the girls gathered at our house to sip hot cocoa and open presents. I found some winter hat and mitten ornaments in our color pink and aqua color scheme on clearance at Wal-Mart after Christmas, so I picked up a dozen of those and dropped them into an apothecary jar so each guest could choose one. Then I filled another apothecary jar with gloves in pink, white and aqua. And finally, each figure skater received a fleece scarf with rosette detail.

I found the aqua polka dot and pink fleece fabrics at Jo-Ann's Fabrics. (I believe this is the polka dot I chose, although the online photo looks a little more pale blue than aqua.) Fleece was an easy option for this project because it does not fray. To make our scarves, I simply used my rotary cutter to cut strips of fabric. Party guests ranged from ages 6 to 8, so it worked for me to cut 5-inch wide strips from one selvage edge to the other. Mary Ashley did not want fringe on the ends of the scarf, so I finished the edges by cutting scallops. You could do this by tracing a pattern to get exact scallops, but I just cut mine freehand. A pretty rosette added a sweet accent of pink to each scarf.


Making rosettes is so easy, and each one comes together in minutes.

 (1) Cut strips of fabric. Mine were about 1 1/2" x 10". Shorter strips will result in smaller buds, and longer strips allow for bigger roses.

(2) Cut a rounded edge on each end of one long side. This will be the top edge, so choose the most even side. Use sturdy thread to hand-sew a running stitch along the bottom edge of the strip. (I actually forgot to photograph this step, so I added dotted lines to demonstrate.)

(3) When you reach the end of the strip, gently gather the fabric. Roll the end nearest the needle into a little rosebud, and tack it into place with a few stitches. Then wrap the rest of the ruffled strip around the rosebud, and stitch it into place.

I think the longest step of this project was trying to decide where I wanted to added the rose accent to the scarf. The rosettes are so pretty, they would look lovely clustered in a grouping of three near the bottom of the scarf, covering the entire scarf, or stitched onto the edges to make a ruffled floral border. I ultimately decided it would be best to let the girls decide. So I stitched each rosette onto the center of a strip of pink fleece. This would allow the girls to position the rosette as desired, or leave it off if they preferred not to wear it. From the angle of the photo above, you can see a little of the fabric strip. Attaching the rosette to a ribbon of fabric turned out to be the best option for adaptability, and it allowed for cute presentation at the party.

Here are the scarves rolled, wrapped and ready for an afternoon on the ice. Our scarves and mittens kept the little girls warm, and the ornaments will serve as a lasting memento of the day.

"Brew me a cup for a winter's night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I'll toast our bright eyes,
my sweetheart fair."

~ Minna Thomas Antrim

Monday, January 30, 2012

Frost Bites: Ice Skating Party Menu

For Mary Ashley's recent ice skating birthday party, guests gathered at our house before heading to a local ice skating rink. Our figure skaters warmed up with steaming mugs of hot cocoa and sweet treats at our mid-afternoon party.

Ice Skating Party Menu

Birthday Cake
Iced Sugar Cookies
Hot Chocolate
Strawberry Cocoa
Marshmallows & Sprinkles
Bottled Waters

Ice skate and mitten cookies from favorite Etsy baker Lisa from Batches were the perfect complement to a cup of hot cocoa. Aren't these precious?

I appreciate the detailed approach Lisa takes with each cookie. Notice the silver shimmer of the silver figure skate blades and the frosty sparkle of the white icing frame. You can see -- and taste -- this baker's passion in every cookie.

Guests topped their mugs with marshmallows and sugar sprinkles. I will keep this apothecary jar full of these white and strawberry marshmallows through Valentine's Day.

I dipped the rims of our Irish coffee mugs in melted Wilton Candy Melts to carry out our color scheme of pink and aqua. Wilton sugar sprinkles added a frosty finishing touch to the mugs. This has to be done as soon as a glass is dipped because the candy melts harden very quickly. (A few of the rims missed getting sprinkled because I thought I could do several before added the sugar.) After the party, the candy melt rims dissolve quickly under hot water.

My friend Stacey came about 30 minutes before the party to help with last-minute details. I asked her to prepare the strawberry cocoa while I put together the hot chocolate. I like to make flavored hot chocolates, but kept this version simple for our little skaters

Ice Skater's Hot Chocolate

Perfect before or after hitting the ice for an afternoon of skating.
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 pinch salt
2/3 cup boiling water
6 cups skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup half-and-half
Sweetened whipped cream or marshmallows, optional
Combine cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan. Add the boiling water, and stir over medium heat until the sugar melts and you achieve a thick liquid. Stir in milk and heat until very hot, but not boiling. Stir in vanilla and half-and-half, and remove from heat. Divide the hot chocolate between 8 to 10 mugs. Top each serving with whipped cream or marshmallows.

I discovered strawberry cocoa on Pinterest. Pretty and pink, this would be a sweet treat for Valentine's Day. Find the recipe here.

The icing on the cake was this birthday cake. I made a three-layer cake using smaller cake pans hoping to cover it with a cloche for a snow globe effect, but with the ruffles of icing and fresh flowers and greenery, it still came out too big. It turned out pretty, though, and several guests didn't realize it was a cake until it was time to light the candles.

I wonder if Mary Ashley wished for figure eights on her 8th birthday?

After cocoa, cookies and cake, we headed to the ice skating rink. A couple of buckets of bottled waters kept our skaters hydrated during their afternoon on the ice.

Still to come, favors perfect for a cold winter's day.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ice Skating Winter Wonderland

Saturday we welcomed a few of Mary Ashley's friends for an ice skating party. The girls gathered here before heading to a local ice skating rink.

This fresh evergreen wreath greeted guests at the front door. I made this the day before the party, simply tucking sprigs into a wire wreath form I found at Hobby Lobby.

See yesterday's post for details of our pretty hot chocolate bar.

Our pink and aqua color scheme was reflected in these napkin bundles. I found the pink yarn at Jo-Ann's Fabrics and used it liberally throughout our decor. I loved the cozy softness it added to our wintertime celebration. Here you see the yarn tied around the napkins and a pink tin bucket. (Aqua napkins and bucket, Target; pink napkins, Caspari.)

Figure skating printables carried out our theme. The straw tags read, "Let's lace up our skates and do figure 8s * We Celebrate That Sweet Mary Ashley Is 8." (Aqua bucket, Target; figure skate embellishment, Jolee's; scrapbook papers, Michaels; straws, The Sugar Diva.)

I began the week trying to make a floor-length ruffled tablecloth but had to abandon the project due to sewing machine problems. So the hunt was on for a white tablecloth. I looked several places and could not be more pleased with the queen size white coverlet I found at a spur-of-the-moment stop at Tuesday Morning. This matelasse coverlet's allover diamond pattern is broken up by floral medallions, and it is edged with white fringe. It is so beautiful! I used it on the table, and now I am trying it out on our bed. I will have to show pictures of that soon. (Pink plates, Caspari.)

Here is a broader view of the dining room before I added the cake to the table. My photographs do not fully convey the beauty of the coverlet or the softness of the room, but you get a little taste here.

Here is our group of eight ready to celebrate! (Left to right, Emma, Lynleigh, Mary Ashley, Emma Cate, Kimber, Carlie, Emma and Lizzy).

I'll be back next week with details of our menu, along with a recipe perfect for warming up a winter day.

Then speaking of warming things up, we'll wrap up our ice skating party with fun favors perfect for a day on the ice.

Congratulations to JoAnne Kennedy, winner of the cupcake cookbook and wrapper giveaway. JoAnne is a longtime friend of A Little Loveliness, so I was thrilled to see that she won. JoAnne is a very talented cake decorator (visit her cake site here), so I can't wait to see what lovely creations she has in store!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ice Skating Birthday Party

"Winter came down to our home one night

Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,

And we, we were children once again."

~ Bill Morgan, Jr.

We did figure eights for Mary Ashley's birthday this year with an ice skating party last weekend.

See yesterday's post for more details about our cozy mitten invitations. These set the tone for our afternoon of wintertime fun. A soft palette of pink, aqua and white gave our party a sweet, wintry feel.

I wish our climate allowed for ice skating at a picturesque frozen pond, but the only ice skating option for us near Montgomery, Ala., is an indoor rink at a local mall. We invited a few of Mary Ashley's girlfriends to join us for an afternoon of skating, but hosted them at our house for refreshments first. 

Here is a shot of our buffet set up in the dining room for a hot chocolate bar.

The right side of the buffet held cookies from favorite Etsy baker Lisa of Batches. These were a perfect complement to our hot chocolate.

Mitten and ice skate cookies glided off this white porcelain ruffled platter to energize guests for an afternoon on the ice.

This cheery bouquet added a touch of softness to the buffet.

I asked Mary Ashley if I could borrow her doll-sized ice skates for our party. With a cuff of fleece tucked into the skates, these added a wintry touch to a wire dress form.

Sheer aqua ribbon and a fleece scarf also dressed up the form.

Here is the dress form positioned on the corner of the buffet.

This vignette was my favorite. I found the frame in a sweet little gift shop in Florida. I plan to use it in  Emma's room, but it was perfect for our party. I took the photo of Mary Ashley when we planned our Christmas card photo session and played with it in Picnik. (And by the way, when I started uploading party photos I learned that Picnik will be closing April 19, but premium services are free until then.)

I invited the girls to fix up their mugs of cocoa with marshmallows and sugar sprinkles. Don't these look like ice chips with my ice skate printables tucked in the bowl? I made these with polka dotted scrapbook papers from Michaels and Jolee's Figure Skate Embellishments.

White hydrangeas look almost like snowballs slipped into this bouquet of pink roses. Sprigs of evergreen tucked here and there added a warm winter fragrance to the room.

Here is another view of the buffet all set for the little ice skaters. Eyelet lanterns available here in pink and blue.

I have much more to share of our party decor, menu and favors, so come back soon!

"The color of springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination." ~ Terri Guillemets

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ice Skating Party Invitation

Hey Friend,

Let's Lace Up Our Skates,
Do Figure Eights
And All Celebrate
Mary Ashley Is 8!

You Are Invited to An
Ice Skating Party For

Mary Ashley Lester

Saturday, January 21, 2012
RSVP to Melissa for Details

Mitten invitations encouraged 8-year-old Mary Ashley's little girlfriends to join us for an ice skating birthday party. To make these, I found a mitten graphic I liked, re-sized it and removed extra details. Copying the altered graphic and flipping it horizontally allowed me to have a pair of mittens to work with. I personalized the left mittens with the guests' names and a greeting. Then the right mitten contained more details. My plan for the afternoon was a little complicated, so I wanted to talk with each guest's parents to coordinate details. I actually think not including all the party information on the invitation encourages guests to RSVP. To complete the front of the invitation, I hot glued mini-ball fringe across the cuffs. Then I connected the mitten pairs by hot gluing grosgrain ribbon to the back. Finally, I used polka dotted polar fleece to cover the backside of the mittens. When I printed my invitations, I printed an extra copy to use as a pattern. I traced the fleece with a blue marking pen and cut it out. Then I secured the fleece to the invitation with a light coating of spray adhesive and allowed the invitations to hang overnight to make sure they were dry before we distributed them. If you would like to make this invitation, click on the mittens below to copy the graphic I used.

If you make mitten invitations, I would love to see photos. If you would like to share, upload photos to the A Little Loveliness page on Facebook. I will be gliding through this week sharing lots of ice skating party ideas, so pour a cup of hot chocolate and stop in again soon!

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home." ~ Edith Sitwell

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cupcake Giveaway

Last year after Mary Ashley's cupcake party I offered a cupcake-themed giveaway, but the prize was never claimed. So I am offering up this copy of Perfect Cupcakes, Cookies and Muffins and box of cupcake liners again today. Please leave a comment below to get your name in the teacup. And if you follow my blog via Google, Facebook, Networked Blogs or RSS feed, leave extra comments to let me know. I plan to announce the winner sometime next week.

Now let me go finish my party projects so I can clean house. This place is a mess!

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