Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes

We all know pumpkin is a fall flavor.  Sure, you can buy cans of it year round, but eating pumpkin in summer is like eating a strawberry in January.  You can do it, but it just feels weird…unless you’re my daughter. 

The kids wanted cupcakes instead of layer cake for the wedding, and there’s a local cupcake shop that makes them gluten-free once a week.  For a while, Codi was a Bella Cupcake Wednesday regular.  When it came time to place the wedding order, the one flavor she was absolutely sure about was pumpkin chai.  Thankfully, Bella was accommodating and agreed, even though it wasn’t pumpkin season for them.  Out of the four flavors, it ended up being the most popular.  Well, being the experimenter that I am, I decided to attempt my own version.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 1

First of all, let me say I cannot compete with Bella Cupcake.  I didn’t get a chance to try one of theirs (like I said, popular) but I already know these don’t taste the same.  However, for an amateur, starting-with-boxed-mix version, these are delicious. 

I made these gluten-free, but you could certainly use a regular cake mix.  Just adjust the amount of eggs and water to reflect what’s required on the box.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes

  • 1 box of vanilla cake mix
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup instant black tea
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 2

Dissolve the instant tea in the water.  Mix all of the dry spices into the cake mix.  Add the butter, eggs, pumpkin and tea/water.  Continue with the mixing and baking instructions on your box for cupcakes.

I had to try this recipe three times before I had one with the flavor I was looking for.  For the first attempt I replaced some of the water with liquid chai concentrate, and they were very pumpkinish and had very little chai coming through.  It was all we could do to scarf down the whole batch.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 3

The second time, I referred to my Spiced Chai drink mix for the spices to add.  I went a little light because I didn’t want them to be too overpowering.  They were good, but it was still hard to taste anything but pumpkin.  When I read the drink recipe a second time, I realized the number of servings was nearly the same as my cake mix, so I went all-out and added the same measurements for the spices.  You can even see the difference in color between the two batches.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 4

Bingo!  These are definitely spicy, but a good dose of cream cheese frosting on top tones them down just enough.  I’m pretty sure nothing has ever said fall quite as loudly as these do.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 5

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Friday Favorites–Back to School

I cannot believe it.  After spending 18 years getting kids ready to go back to school in the fall, I’m done.  My youngest starts college near our home next month, but it’s just not the same.  He doesn’t need anything from me, and I’m pretty sure his professors won’t be asking for party parents, or help with classroom projects.  It’s the end of an era, but I’m really okay with it.  I enjoyed all those years, but I’m excited to move on to this next phase of our lives.  And avoid the giant mom-line at Starbucks on Tuesday morning.

Back to School - Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites

Start the new school year off right by getting organized with this School Binder with Printables from Thirty Handmade Days.

School Binder Printables from Thrity Handmade Days

If you or your kids pack their lunch, you know sometimes an ice pack makes it a little more edible come lunchtime.  Make them cute and less drippy with these DIY Ice Pack Covers from Little White Whale.

Ice Pack Covers from Little White Whale

The ruffley girliness of this Bustle Backpack from The Sewing Rabbit is so sweet.

Bustle Backpack from Me Sew Crazy

If you have kids of THAT age, you might have noticed all of the options for interior locker decoration available in the stores these days.  Why not make your own?  Sassy Style has you covered with this set of DIYs.

DIY Locker Accessories from Sassy Style Redesign

How come I never noticed that a Twinkie looks like a pencil before?  Thanks to Club Chica Circle, that’s all I’ll see now.

Back to School Twinkies from Club Chica Circle

This First Day of School Sign from Pinkie for Pink is a great way to remember what your kidlet was like each year.  You know, once they’re almost 19 and in college.  Sniff.

First Day of School DIY Sign from Pinkie for Pink

If I needed a lunchbox to head back to school with, I’d make this Bento Box from Lark Crafts.

Bento Box from Lark Crafts

This Back to School Gift for Teacher from Skip to my Lou is a fantastic idea.  You can write your phone number on the tag so the teacher knows how to contact you if they need help in the classroom. 

Back to School Gift for Teacher from Skip to my Lou

My kids were always big readers.  They got it from me, which means someone was always trying to find a bookmark.  We really could have used these Printable Back to School Bookmarks from Simple as That.

Printable Back to School Bookmarks from Simple As That

I don’t remember daily wardrobe being a huge issue for my kids, except for the phase my son went through where any camo was good and it all matched.  In his head.  These closet dividers from West Side View would have been handy to space out the Army green a bit.

Back to school wardrobe organizer from Authentic Parent

To those of you who are getting back in the swing this week, or have already braved those first few days of school, my thoughts are with you!

Hanging Mason Jar Votive Lanterns

My daughter’s now-husband was a typical groom when it came to the wedding planning.  He was happy to be there, but didn’t have many things he was opinionated about.  Because of that, when he did express a desire to have something we tried to make it happen.  These little lanterns just happened to be one of those things.

Hanging Mason Jar Votive Lanterns - Crafty Staci 1

This is a project the bride and groom took on themselves and had finished in no time.  I wish I could show you a photo of the two of them working away at it, but I failed to take any.  If I could go back and do it over, that’s the one thing I would change.  More photos.

Anyway, to make these, remove the lids from the jars.  Lay the ring top down on a piece of wood and find a large nail.

Hanging Mason Jar Votive Lanterns - Crafty Staci 2

Make two marks directly across from each other and hammer the nail through at those points to create holes.

Hanging Mason Jar Votive Lanterns - Crafty Staci 3

Hanging Mason Jar Votive Lanterns - Crafty Staci 4

Cut a length of wire that will allow the jar to hang at whatever height you choose, plus a couple of inches extra on each end.  Feed the wire up through the hole and twist it around itself.

Hanging Mason Jar Votive Lanterns - Crafty Staci 5

Repeat on the other side and twist back onto the jar.  Add a candle and it’s ready to go.

Hanging Mason Jar Votive Lanterns - Crafty Staci 6

We went with all battery-operated candles for the wedding for three reasons.  The first, and most important, is that we knew there would be a lot of little kids in attendance and we didn’t want any of them getting burned.  Second, we didn’t want to burn the forest surrounding our house down.   That one was pretty important too.  The last reason was convenience.  We were able to turn the candles on while decorating earlier in the day. 

Hanging Mason Jar Votive Lanterns - Crafty Staci 7

As it started to get dark, all of the candles started to gradually become more obvious because they were already lit.  It created a pretty glow as the evening progressed.

Hanging Mason Jar Votive Lanterns - Crafty Staci 8

If you don’t happen to have any of our above issues, these would also be lovely with a real candle.  Come to think of it, these would make a great wedding favor for your guests too.  Chalk one up for the groom!

Hanging Mason Jar Votive Lanterns - Crafty Staci 9

Quilt! Knit! Stitch!

It’s been a very long time since I attended a sewing show.  In fact, it’s probably been more than 10 years.  When I saw that Quilt! Knit! Stitch! was making it’s Portland debut, I decided maybe it was time to give it another go.

Quilt! Knit! Stitch!

I got my daughter on board with the Knit! part, but I was a little skeptical that the $10 per person entry fee, plus parking, was going to be worth it.  That seemed a little steep considering I knew it was going to be full of vendors also wanting a peek into my wallet.  I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised.  We ended up spending over three hours there!

There were two sides to the show:  display pieces and vendors.  We started on the display side, which was set up like a museum.  The first thing we came to was a Community Garden.  It was a fabric tree covered in flowers made by attendees.  They offered to let us make some to add, but we were anxious to see what was ahead.

Quilt! Knit! Stitch! - Crafty Staci 3

There were some truly amazing works of art.  They started with those made of yarn, like this crochet piece from local Jo Hamilton, representing the city of Portland.

Quilt Knit Stitch - Crafty Staci 2

This quilt, called Gathering Hearty Roses, was made by a group of four quilters from Japan who have been creating together for 20 years.  Aiko Miyata, Norimi Tashiro, Nobuko Kotani and Reiko Terui each made one of the hearts, then put them together.

Quilt! Knit! Stitch! - Crafty Staci 4

I couldn’t get a photo that would do justice to Scarlett’s Crimson by Philippa Naylor from the U.K.  She drafted the pattern, then used piecing, quilting and applique to create this beauty.  She was inspired by 1950’s couture ball gowns.

Quilt! Knit! Stitch! - Crafty Staci 5

I love the color and style of Indian Summer Sunset by Shirley Gisi from Colorado.

Quilt! Knit! Stitch! - Crafty Staci 6

Jane Sassaman was inspired to make Illinois Album by the rural areas of her own state.

Quilt! Knit! Stitch! - Crafty Staci 7

Cindy Hickok, from Texas, had several 3D pieces made with machine embroidery, but my favorite was See the U.S.A.

Quilt! Knit! Stitch! - Crafty Staci 8

Alice’s Kitchen by Miki Murakami of Japan was a real eye-catcher.

Quilt! Knit! Stitch! - Crafty Staci 9

We moved on to the vendor side, which seemed to go on forever.  One the first booths we stepped into remained one of our favorites.  We even went back to it at the end to buy a book and chat with the author, Kay MacKenzie.

Quilt! Knit! Stitch! - Crafty Staci 10

You can visit Kay at her book website and applique blog.  She had so many cute things, but the Studio sign, which is in the above book, is the first thing I want to make.

Quilt! Knit! Stitch! - Crafty Staci 11

There were a few trends we spotted while we shopped.  Wool felt projects were everywhere.  Bertie’s Year, from Bonnie Sullivan, was a particularly fun set of patterns.

Quilt! Knit! Stitch! - Crafty Staci 12

Another prevalent theme was super-tiny quilts.  It really made me want to give one a try.  Imagine how happy we were when we walked by the Moda Bakeshop booth and they handed us each of us a sweet pack of 2 1/2” squares!

Quilt! Knit! Stitch! - Crafty Staci 13

You know how much I love to rip out a seam, but after holding this seam ripper from Lumenaris in my hand, I had to have one.  This thing is the perfect size and weight.  I’ve already used it, and I’m very happy to add it to my tool box.

Quilt! Knit! Stitch! - Crafty Staci 14

Overall, Quilt! Knit! Stitch! was a fun afternoon.  My daughter was hoping for more knitting and crochet patterns, but she enjoyed admiring the yarn.  I’m hoping the show returns next year!

Friday Favorites–On the Road Again

For some reason, my family tends to take a lot of end-of-summer vacations.  I can’t even blame procrastination.  It just seems that by the time we’re done flipping calendar pages to find a time we’re all available, that’s where we end up.  One year we came skidding into the driveway sideways from a cruise to Mexico the day before my son started school.  He politely requested that we never, ever do that again.  This year we’re giving him a whole week.

Travel DIYs - Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites

One of my favorite things about traveling is the anticipation.  I want this Vacation Countdown from the Dating Divas, and I want it to always have a number on it.

DIY Vacation Countdown from The Dating Divas

This Vintage Postcard Travel Journal from A Beautiful Mess is so pretty, I might actually remember to write in it.

Vintage Postcard Travel Journal from A Beautiful Mess

We, as a society and definitely my family, travel with an abundance of electronics these days.  They all need juice, which means cords.  Pin-N-Tell shares a smart idea for keeping them from exploding like a peanut can snake all over the inside of your suitcase.  My personal electronic advice:  invest in a wall multi-plug surge protector.  Many hotels haven’t quite caught up to the plug-in needs of today’s traveler.

Travel Charger Organizer from Pic-N-Tell

I like taking a bag on airplanes that’s large enough to hold lots of stuff, but small enough I can stuff it under the seat in front of me, rather than fight the overhead bin battle.  This Large Patchwork Bag from All People Quilt looks just about right.

Large Patchwork Bag from All People Quilt

Ok, those these don’t exactly travel, but they’ve got the look so I’m slipping them in.  Maybe you can make one, using the instructions from The Bark, so your dog has somewhere stylish to hang out while you’re gone.

Dog Airstream from The Bark

Studs and Pearls was able to make these Lace Aviator Sunglasses for under $7, and was probably able to do her nails to match.

DIY Lace Aviator Sunglasses from Studs and Pearls

Unless your kids fall asleep the moment their little behinds hit a car or plane seat, and don’t wake up until you’ve arrived, you have to keep them busy.  This Clipping Toy from Kids Activities Blog seems like it would buy you a few peaceful miles.

DIY Clipping Toy from Kids Activities

Back to that sleeping thing – even if they don’t sleep the whole time, you might be able to coax a nap out of them with these Travel Pillows from Imagine Gnats.

Travel Pillows from Imagine Gnats

This DIY Secret Hanger from Plan B is a great idea.  I could also see it used to hold the accessories to go with whichever outfit is hanging on it.  I love the map fabric she used!

DIY Secret Hanger from Plan B

This one isn’t a craft, but still a good idea.  Visit Stuffed Suitcase to find out how and why to back up your data before you take off.

Backing Up Data Before Vacation Matters from Stuffed Suitcase

Have you done all your vacationing for the year, or will I run into you in Disneyland in September?

Cedar Log Ring Bearer Box

I don’t remember how it started, whether my son volunteered or my daughter asked, but it came to be that my son, Tucker, was assigned the job of making something for the ring bearer to carry the rings in for the wedding ceremony.  It seemed appropriate since Tucker was the best man and would have to remove them from whatever he came up with in front of a crowd of people. 

Cedar Log Wedding Ring Bearer Box - Crafty Staci 1

Tucker took all the metals classes his high school had to offer, and threw in wood shop near the end.  His dad is a wood worker, so he had a bit of experience in that area already.  Recently, he’s also taken up leather working, so he didn’t have any trouble coming up with an idea for the ring box.  He spent hours in the school shop, then at home after he graduated, lovingly turning a plain log into an heirloom his sister and new brother-in-law will treasure forever.

Cedar Log Wedding Ring Bearer Box - Crafty Staci 2

Once he had finished the box, we talked about what should go inside.  He had carefully carved out a rectangular hole, which seemed perfect to fit a pillow into.  He was planning to sew the pillow himself, but time was running short, so I took care of it for him.  I’ll be explaining more about this in a future story, but I made the pillow out of a piece of my cut-up wedding dress and a leather cord.

Cedar Log Wedding Ring Bearer Box - Crafty Staci 3

The ring bearer, my nephew Greyson, carried that box like a champ.  He’s a little hard to spot in this photo, but it’s the only one I have of him so far.  He was the best ring bearer ever!

Cedar Log Wedding Ring Bearer Box - Crafty Staci 4

I was a little worried it would be hard for Tucker to unbuckle those leather straps when it was time to hand over the rings.  I should have known better than to think he’d do that to himself.

Cedar Log Wedding Ring Bearer Box - Crafty Staci 5

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my son work on something with such care for so long as he did this box.  He and his sister are very close, and I know he wanted to make her something special, not only for the wedding, but as a keepsake to remember what a great day it was.  He hit it out of the park.

Cedar Log Wedding Ring Bearer Box - Crafty Staci 6

Friday Favorites–Shark Week

So, sharks.  I can’t say it’s likely I’d be talking about them right now if there weren’t a popular television channel that has been dedicating an entire week to them, but here we are.  There are some great crafts and DIYs on the subject, but personally, they freak me out a little.  Thankfully, I’m not likely to ever come face to face with one of these toothy guys, because I am completely incapable of swimming.  Not even to save myself from a shark.

Shark Week DIYs - Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites

Some of the footage shown throughout the week might be a little too much for some of the little ones.  Okay, maybe some of us *ahem* not-so-little-ones too.  Let them play along anyway with this shark memory game from Molly Moo.

Shark Matching Game by Molly Moo Crafts

This Shark Fin Shirt from Dollar Store Crafts is just the kind of thing my son would have found hilarious at that age.

Shark Fin Shirt by Dollar Store Crafts

This Shark Bag from Small and Friendly reminds me of a cartoon that was on when I was a kid.

Shark Bag by Small Friendly

What could be more perfect than a Shark Hoodie Towel, like this one from Just Crafty Enough, for hanging out at the beach?

Shark Hoodie Towel from Just Crafty Enough

I’m not sure how I’d cope with these guys looking up at me, but if you’re intrigued you can find the crochet pattern at stacie71’s Etsy shop.  She also has a few made up for those of us who are crochet-challenged.

Shark Slipper Socks Crochet Pattern from stacie71 on Etsy

Rather have the shark eat your head than your feet?  Check out this Shark Attack Hat from pie popper on Instructables.

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You can also go all in with this Shark Costume from Create Craft Love.

Shark Costume by Create Craft Love

Okay, even I have to admit this Shark Pencil Case from Patchwork Posse is pretty adorable.

Shark Pencil Case by Patchwork Posse

And this Watermelon Shark from Spoonful is pretty amazing.

Watermelon Shark by Spoonful

But I think it’s this Shark Trick-or-Treat Bag from Stitched by Crystal that’s finally lured me into shark infested waters.

Shark Trick or Treat Bag by Stitched by Crystal

Inside Dress Bra Strap Anchors

This week I’d like to show you something I did for myself for my daughter’s wedding that made my day much smoother.  It seems like a small thing, but trust me, it was important.

Do your bra straps slide off your shoulders?  It seems like no matter what style of bra I buy, this happens to me.  It drives me crazy.  Then I bought a dress with little loops to attach the strap to the inside and it changed my life.  When I chose my mother-of-the-bride dress and it didn’t come with those magic loops, I knew immediately that I needed to add them.

Inside Dress Bra Strap Anchors - Crafty Staci 1

All this requires is some skinny twill tape or ribbon, 1/4 – 1/2” wide, and two small snaps. 

Inside Dress Bra Strap Anchors - Crafty Staci 2

Cut the twill tape to 3” long.  Fold one end over a couple of times and sew one side of the snap to it.

Inside Dress Bra Strap Anchors - Crafty Staci 3

Fold the other end under a couple of times and sew it to the inside of your garment with the snap side down.

Inside Dress Bra Strap Anchors - Crafty Staci 4

Sew the other side of the snap in the appropriate place on the garment so the snap sides will match.

Inside Dress Bra Strap Anchors - Crafty Staci 5

That’s really all there is to it.  Mine ended up in slightly different places on each side of my dress, but it doesn’t really matter as long as they can hook around the strap.

Inside Dress Bra Strap Anchors - Crafty Staci 6

With your garments on, slip the twill tape under the bra strap and snap in place.

Inside Dress Bra Strap Anchors - Crafty Staci 8

These tiny loops kept everything in its place all day long.  I had enough to think about, so that was a HUGE help.  I kinda want to do this to all my clothes!

Inside Dress Bra Strap Anchors - Crafty Staci 9

Book Review: Basic Black

I’m here today to share another book review courtesy of Tuttle Publishing.  They have provided me with the book, but the opinions are all my own.

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Happy Homemade Sew Chic and Stylish Skirts so far, and I loved things about all of them, but I’ve unintentionally saved the best for last.   I have lots of black clothes in my closet, so I was bound to find a few things here I liked, but I was pleasantly surprised at how many that turned out to be. 

Book Review Basic Black - Crafty Staci 1

This book was written by the talented Sato Watanabe.  It started as all the Tuttle books have so far – with photos of each finished garment.  Not that it has anything to do with the sewing aspect, but one thing I really liked about this book was the cheerfulness of the model.  With all of the garments being black, the happy expressions versus a typical starving model pose set a good tone.

Book Review Basic Black - Crafty Staci 2

I had a hard time narrowing down which favorites I wanted to share with you, but the first one that stood out to me was the Dress with Stitched Skirt.  I love the look of white embroidery on black.

Book Review Basic Black - Crafty Staci 3

While a good part of the book features cold weather items, like this Zip-Up Vest with High Neck…

Book Review Basic Black - Crafty Staci 4

…there are also plenty of things for the warm season too, like this Whimsical Vest in Chiffon Lace.

Book Review Basic Black - Crafty Staci 5

This High Neck Shirt with Three Quarter Length Sleeves would be great for that transition from summer to fall.

Book Review Basic Black - Crafty Staci 6

I love the neckline on this Flannel Short Coat. 

Book Review Basic Black - Crafty Staci 7

I haven’t made anything from this book yet, but it seems like there’s a pretty broad range of skill levels required for the different projects.  There is a page detailing the different tools needed, as you might find in a book for beginners.  There are many projects with only a small number of pieces to cut out and one page of instructions, like this Asymmetrical Blouse with Tape Trim.

Book Review Basic Black - Crafty Staci 8

But there are also a few more complex projects for those who’d like to stretch their wings, like this Seersucker Shirt with Collar, which requires several pieces and has three pages of instructions.

Book Review Basic Black - Crafty Staci 9

The patterns come in XS, S, M and L and need to be traced onto drafting paper or pattern tissue to use, as they’re overlapped on the pattern page included.  If you wonder why they do this, here is what 26 ordinary sewing patterns look like.

Book Review Basic Black - Crafty Staci 10

Compare that to this book, with it’s skinny envelope in the back.  Makes sense, right?

Book Review Basic Black - Crafty Staci 11

My thanks to Tuttle Publishing for asking me to review their books.  It was a real pleasure!

Book Review Basic Black - Crafty Staci 12

Friday Favorites–If the Shoe Fits…

I used to live in flip flops.  I had a favorite leather pair that I wore for years.  Then suddenly one day I couldn’t tolerate the strap between my toes.  I don’t know what happened, but I have to be very picky about what I wear now.  I made myself some flip flop covers a few years ago, which made them a little more tolerable, but they’re still not my favorite.  It makes me sad, because I love the convenience and style options! 

DIY Shoes - Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites

There is nothing cuter in this world than baby shoes.  The irony is, they don’t need them.  For a pretty solution to unnecessarily covering up those tiny toes, try these Barefoot Baby Sandals from Craftaholics Anonymous.

Barefoot Baby Sandals - Craftaholics Anonymous

For the littles that are old enough to need shoes but have trouble keeping them on their feet, Make it and Love it has the solution with these Interchangeable Flip Flop Back Straps.

Interchangeable Flip Flop Back Straps - Make it and Love it

I have some shoes very similar to the ones used by Me Making Do for this wedge sandal refashion.  This might have to happen!

Wedge Shoe Redo - Me Making Do

I love the black and white ribbon used on May Arts for these embellished flip flops.

Flip Flops with Flair - May Arts

The easy tutorial makes these Dip Dyed Shoes from Frankie seem doable.

Dip Dyed Shoes - Frankie

I’m intrigued by these DIY shoes from Pikkpack.  Apparently, you choose the ribbon and leather colors and they arrive flat-packed, Ikea-style, for you to assemble.

Pikkpack Shoes

My daughter loves her Toms.  In fact, she, all the bridesmaids and her flower girl wore them for the wedding.  Eventually, they do wear out though.  I’ll have to show her how she can give them a second life with this tutorial from Midwestern Thread.

DIY Toms Sandals - Midwestern Thread

Now here’s a flip flop I could consider.  This fabric makeover by The Mother Huddle makes them look much more toe-friendly.

Knot So Hard Flip Flops - The Mother Huddle

I wear slippers in the house, even in the summer, but sometimes it’s too hot.  These Summer Slippers from Lady Harvatine would be great for those sweltering days.

Summer Slippers - Lady Harvatine

These Macrame Sandals from My White Idea look as fun to make as they would be to wear.

Macrame Sandals - My White Idea