Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Real Life: American Girl Doll Huron Valley Catholic School Uniform

I have been too quiet here lately. The biggest culprit at present is the fact that I have 3 busy kids at a (wonderful) Catholic school (and 1 busy guy not yet at the wonderful Catholic school), and the parent community is the crux of its fundraising efforts. Every year, the (wonderful) parents join forces and put on a spectacular dinner auction to raise money for need-based tuition scholarships. Not only is the auction an ever-increasing success, the evening is filled with fun and friends. I have previously mentioned that both my husband and I are alumni of this (wonderful) school, and it is very much an establishment we are glad to support in dollars and hours and students. If you live in the Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Plymouth-Canton, Dexter, Saline or South Lyon area and are looking for the best imaginable education for your pre-K through 8th grade kids AND a supportive and faith-filled parent community, please stop by and have a look at Huron Valley Catholic School!

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This year, I am in charge of a couple parts of the auction, including managing the silent auction baskets. That particular job, in a nutshell, is to take the merchandise donated and make it look as attractive and cohesive as possible in shrink-wrapped baskets. It’s another job that is essentially the equivalent turning straw into gold… to maximize the profit, we try to work with what has been donated in terms of baskets, fluffy filler, and merchandise to produce a bid-worthy package. Of course, as with many crafty things, Pinterest has helped corral my inspiration... here’s my auction basket design board.

This year, the acquisitions volunteers procured an American Girl doll… Isabelle, the girl of the year for 2014. She came with a couple cute outfits but she was sadly lacking in school spirit. After a couple months of living the minutiae of benefit auction logistics, I needed a little creative outlet, and it came in the form of a pint-sized Catholic school girl uniform for Isabelle. I used my pattern software to build an 18” doll version of the jumper option our little girls can wear to school, complete with a t-shirt transfer miniature HVCS logo. I made the peter pan collar and sleeves attached to the jumper rather than a separate blouse, for simplicity’s sake. And here she is!

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I am so pleased with how this uniform turned out… it hit the spot for my creative needs and will hopefully help draw bigger bids for this package. More money = more kids who can attend = more lively school! Everybody wins!

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I am considering putting together some AG doll clothing patterns (including this jumper!) to make an affordable and versatile pattern bundle for moderately experienced sewists (meaning I’ll provide the pattern blocks that could be used for a variety of styles and it will be up to you to mix/match/assemble according to your vision). Like slopers for your AG doll… use them to dream big, test your design skills, and whip up a custom doll wardrobe! I will have to wait until after this year’s auction before embarking on that adventure (it’s in just 2 weeks! I see the light at the end of the tunnel!). So, in the meantime, if this concept is something you’d be interested in, join my email list below by the end of February 2015 with your preferences and you will get the package for FREE as a PDF when it’s ready!! ((your info is secure, and I only send about 4 emails per year))

I hope you are surviving this winter with whatever sustains your creative spirit when the sun is on vacation! It WILL be Spring again someday :)

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread (yeah, it’s cake)

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We just got 14+ inches of snow. Probably more like 16. And it’s flippin’ freezing out. Today is our second snow day from “The Blizzard of ‘15” in SE Michigan. So what could be more appropriate than a post about summer veggies from your garden? Read on…

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I was the lucky recipient of many a zucchini from my mom over at Fieldstone Farm. Delicious, organic zucchinis. In quantities with which I could not keep up. Enter the food processor. I shredded and froze a lot of that produce for the cold, dark days of winter. Days just like today!

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The nice thing about having frozen zucchini on hand is that you can thaw it any time and make yummy treats like this double chocolate zucchini cake bread! Take that, Blizzard! This recipe was adapted to my preferences from one found on movitabeaucoup.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Makes 1 9x5x3 loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2  cups shredded raw zucchini (or frozen zucchini, thawed and drained)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I love Rodelle cocoa, seasonally found at Costco)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup  canola oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.

Grate the zucchini, using a medium sized grater, and set aside. You do not need to squeeze the zucchini dry. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the oil, sugars, eggs, and vanilla extract until well blended. Fold in the grated zucchini. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 55 to 65 minutes). Place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely. Enjoy!

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