Thursday, November 21

DIY Pajama Sets (And we've got some catching up to do...)

Hi everyone! It's been awhile! How ya been?
Over here we've kept busy. But now both of my girls are in school and I will have some time to start blogging again! Yay!

   Want to know something funny? That was the intro I wrote to a post 2 MONTHS ago! So much for time to blog. J Somehow things get so busy that there just isn't time or energy for posting anything....or my husband has dibs on the laptop. :) 

     But anyway, can you believe the year is almost over?? Me neither! Everyone is another year older, both girls have started another year at their respective schools, we got our fill of fried foods at the State Fair, Halloween has come and gone, and now our attention is on Thanksgiving.

      Sadly, I haven't done much cooking-for-a-blog-post lately. There definitely hasn't been a lack of kitchen time though. (Did you know that the people in this house expect dinner EVERY night?!? sheesh! ;) )

Monday, August 12

Star Wars Quilt -- Oh yea, it's Queen Sized!

It took me a couple months, but I finally finished Nate's Father's Day present!
     Guess I should back up a little and explain. See, for Father's Day this year, the girls wanted to give Nate a Stars Wars blanket for our bed. Well, we had been having a lot of trouble finding a Star Wars comforter that was queen size. (They were all twin and full - go figure!) What do the girls and I do if we can't find something? Make it ourselves! So I started looking at fabrics when I'd go to Joann's to see if they had good stuff and I was playing out ways in my head to put a quilt together. Then, a week before Father's Day, I realized I had only one week before Father's Day! And I hadn't bought anything or done anything at all! (Most sane people would throw in the towel at this point and either fork over a good bit of money to buy a quilt off of Etsy or push the project back till Christmas. I am no sane person. ;) ) For that week, I ate, slept and breathed this quilt....well, when Nate wasn't home anyway. :) In the span of that week, I was able to completely piece together the quilt front and the quilt back. I still think that's crazy since it took me a couple years of working here and there to make both of my girls' quilts.
     So Father's Day comes, and that is what we showed him - the front and the back...just not sewn together - with the promise of finishing it soon. Since I had been so hard-core about this Star Wars quilt for that week, I took a few days off before finishing it. It probably would have been done sooner had I realized we weren't going to be putting any batting in it. (That was one of my reasons for putting it lazy butt didn't want to go get the batting....)
So, here it is! Nowhere near perfect, but happily received all the same. :)
It is now on our bed! :) I probably should have taken it outside and asked somebody to hold it up to I could photograph it better. That may be easier when we have a house. Anyway, you can't tell in this picture but the top of the quilt (what you see in the picture) is bordered by red, blue, green, and purple - to represent the colors of the light sabers. :) The back is a white flannel with 'Star Wars' written in black with an inner yellow border and the binding was done by folding the front strips of color over.
Want to see how I did it? (Yes, even though I was in a major time crunch, I still stopped to take the time to take pictures for you. :) )
     We decided on a chevron pattern for the front of the quilt: 4 zig-zags would be Star Wars fabric while the background fabric would be yellow. The plan was to have it bordered by the colors of the light sabers: red, blue, green and purple.
     I laid out my yellow fabric and cut 32 squares that measured 10 1/2" x 10 1/2" -- the squares of the quilt will be 10" square, the extra 1/2" is for the 1/4" seam allowances. [I believe that 3 yards would be enough for all of the squares and the strips for the backing.]

Once all the yellow squares were measured and cut, I drew one line on the back of each square from one corner to the other.
     Then I cut 8 blocks of each of my other 4 fabrics. [Note: I ordered a yard of each. It turned out to be enough since each fabric was patterned and I was strategically cutting the squares.]

     After all the fabrics had been cut, it was time to pair the printed fabric squares with the solid yellow squares. Put the right sides of the fabric together, with the wrong side of the yellow facing up (so that you can see the line you drew).

     Using the drawn line as a guide, sew 1/4" on both sides of the line. Do this for all 32 pairs of fabric.

     After all of the squares have been sewn together, cut down the drawn line of each pair creating two triangles.

      Now it's time to make the iron your new best friend. (I think the most time-consuming part of making this quilt was the ironing. I now loathe ironing. Not that I ever liked it before though....anyway, I digress.) Open up your triangles on your ironing board and admire your new squares. (Seriously, I was so pleased with myself the first time I used this technique. I was making a pinwheel block. :) )

     After taking sufficient time to admire the ease with which you just created these awesome squares, it's time to iron the seams. Flip your squares so you are looking at the seams, spread the out with your fingers and then, very carefully, iron them open.  After you've ironed them, you're going to notice the little "ears" poking out from the edges. Go ahead and trim those down.

     To break up the monotony of the ironing and snipping, I made each row together after ironing each set of fabric. Lay out your squares as you want them to be. (You can see my drawing on the floor with me so I wouldn't mess up. :) )

     Then I sewed in pairs; starting with the top row I sewed together the first two squares, ironed the seam open, replaced them on the floor, sewed the next two, ironed, replaced and so on ending with sewing the top row and bottom row together.

     And then? You guessed it! I ironed the long seam open! :)

      Repeat with each set of fabrics until you have 4 separate zig-zag rows.
     Sew each them all together! And your quilt front is almost done!

     Before adding the colorful borders, we need to size the fabric for the quilt backing. [It is also going to have a border, so we need to size them up together without the borders.]
      I bought 4 yards of my backing fabric. I used a flannel white fabric with 'Star Wars' printed all over it in black. I had a really long piece of fabric that didn't match my quilt top. So I folded it in half, cut, and then sewed the two halves together to match the size of the top. I moved some tables around in my living room and laid out the backing. Then I laid out the quilt top over the top of the backing. I trimmed the back to match the front. Now for the borders!

     As a border for the front, I used four colors: red, blue, purple, green. [You probably would only need 1/2 yard of each, but to be safe I'll recommend 3/4 yard -- allowing for possibly needing extra.]

     Fold the fabrics selvage-edge to selvage-edge and iron the fold. Cut the raw edge to match up the front and back and to give you a straight line to work from. Each strip will be 4 1/2" wide. (I only needed two of each color.)

     Sew the two strips of each color together and iron open the seams. Sew the color strips to the quilt top. One end of each strip will be even with the edge of the quilt top and the other end will extend 4 1/4 inch; after sewing the pieces together, trim as necessary.

     After sewing the first color strip on, the second strip will connect with the first. Repeat the above steps. Continue adding on the rest of the color strips.

     And then you have your quilt top!
      Next comes finishing the backing. Cut 8 strips of the yellow in the same manner of the color strips. Sew two strips together to create 4 pairs. Sew them to the backing just as the front border was sewn to the front.
     Now here is where I deviated from my initial plan. According to my sketch, I was going to buy black binding to finish the quilt off. Well, I never made it back to the store. [We were looking at buying a sizable number of packages of I made a new plan. However, if you want to stick with a black binding, you will need approximately 12 yards.] So what I did was fold the front over to the back to act as the binding.

     I used the iron to create the folds to help me find where to sew. (I also don't like pinning. Not sure why, I just don't. So I try to find ways around it.) But I did use very large safety pins to help me hold the two layers together. [Or three layers if you want to use batting.]

     I used a fun stitch to sew the layers together. I made sure the top thread and bobbin matched each color strip. (Be forewarned: I took a lot of pictures of the corners because I am very pleased with how my corners came out. :) )

     Here is a close-up of the backside of a corner.

     And this is the front of that same corner.

     And some other close-up pictures because I am just that excited about this part. :)

     Now, I'm pretty sure I did this out of order....but I tend to do things out of order anyway. :p After being pleased with how my borders and corners turned out, I wanted to sew the layers together throughout the rest of the quilt too. I used a black top thread and bobbin and sewed in the seams (or in the ditch) along the edges of the zig-zags. When you look closely at the back, you will see the zig-zags. :)
       Now you get to stand back and admire your work. As I said in the beginning of this post--if you can remember that far back ;) --my quilt, or rather my husband's quilt, came out nowhere near perfect! But rather than feel completely discouraged, I found some things to be proud of. You have already seen the corners, and here are a couple other spots I found throughout the quilt to be excited about.

All these seams came pretty darn close to matching up perfectly.
This point came out nearly perfect, where some others look chopped off a bit.
This point looks pretty good and the thread matched very closely to the fabric.

     It may not be much, but it's enough to make me satisfied enough to want to try again another time. :) 

     Have you ever made a chevron quilt? Or attempted one? I'd love to hear about it! :)

Saturday, May 11

Our Window Sill Garden!

     I didn’t realize it had been so long since I wrote a post for this blog. I’ve been sick (and taking care of sick ‘ens ) so I’ve spent my time catching up the family blog. But let’s have some fun on here today, okay? :)
     I think I’ll start with our most recent project (and we’ll work backwards in future posts :) ) -- Our Window Sill Garden!
     The girls and I were at Target some time back and decided to walk through the seasonal springtime stuff. We found the displays of seed packets and of course the girls just HAD to get some. So we did. :) But where were we going to plant them? Yea, I didn’t think that part through when I told them they could each pick a packet. So we brought the seeds home and they got put on the counter. And that’s where they sat. And sat. And sat. Well some time went by and the seeds were still on the counter when Abby brought home a bean in a baggie with dirt and a wet cotton ball from preschool. She taped it to the sliding glass doors and that is where it stayed. A few days later we noticed it was growing really well! Especially for just a bean.

Friday, February 1

Having Fun with Gak!

      You ever go on a pinning spree? Yea, I did too. Yesterday I somehow ended up doing searches for ‘science experiments’ and looking at other people’s boards about kids’ science stuff and projects and experiments. Wow. There are endless boards and even more pins. It’s kind of crazy the amount of time I spent looking at this stuff and, yes, I even made my own board for science experiments and projects to do with the girls. J
      The girls have been asking me to make Cloud Dough again and I was going to, but I hadn’t been to the store yet. So while I was looking at all the pins and sites, I found some cool things to do with the girls with stuff I already had on hand. I was thinking about Oobleck but ended up going with Gak. Man, there are a bunch of people who have done this and now I have too. J I went off of Laura’s blog ‘Come Together Kids’. Wow. If you have a whole lot of time and want something to read, go check out her blog and click on the Crafts and Activities tab. Pretty cool stuff. J
Anyway, back to the goo. Here’s what you’ll need:

Thursday, January 31

Meals For The Next 2 Weeks

M.O.M. ~ Mom On a Mission – One mom’s mission to feed healthy foods to a family of four for under $400 a month. Can it be done? Let’s find out!

   Payday time again. That means it’s time to plan out dinners and write up the grocery list again.

   When making up the menus, I was trying to keep in mind what I already had in my pantry and freezer to keep costs low. Here’s what I came up with:

Thursday, January 24

Taco Casserole -- More Freezer Cooking

     So on the menu for last night was the frozen Pasta Bake. Well I, being who I am, forgot that it needed to be pulled out of the freezer the night before or morning of. I didn’t remember this until about 3 o’clock. J So I decided to use this time in the kitchen to put together the Twice Baked Potatoes for the freezer and also put together the Taco Casserole – one for dinner last night and one to put in the freezer.

     The girls and I had spent the afternoon playing Lego stories and then some time playing on the Wii (MarioKart, tennis, golf and then I introduced them to the boxing haha) while I had a chicken boiling on the stove…so it was time for them to go play together so I could spend some time in the kitchen.

Monday, January 21

Freezer Cooking -- Pasta Bake!

     Last week I had planned on making a double batch of baked pasta to have one for dinner that night and freezing the other for another night. But the scheduled day came and that day my oldest was home sick from school and no one was in the mood for pasta. We were feeling like having pancakes…so we had leftover pancakes for dinner. But I still wanted to make the pasta so it would be ready for another time.

     First I started another batch of bread. (It really is wonderful – I promise I’ll do a post on this soon!) While the bread is doing it’s thing, I go ahead and get a pot of water boiling. Then I cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.

     While the pasta is cooking up, I go ahead and grab two bowls and empty a can of diced tomatoes into each. Then I add in the spices: pepper, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, ground mustard, and salt. And then it gets all stirred up with a fork.

Wednesday, January 16

Homemade Fish Sticks for dinner!

     On the menu for Tuesday was Homemade Fish Sticks. Now, I’m really not a fish-sticks-kind of person. My husband is actually the fish-stick-lover of the house. But seeing as how I really can’t remember the last time we had fish sticks (and I’m pretty sure they weren’t homemade…) and I had come across this homemade recipe before planning out meals, I figured it was a good time to do it for my husband again.

     I found this recipe at I found this blog thru a pin on Pinterest for homemade white bread. (I’ve just pulled my third batch of this bread out of the oven. It is absolutely wonderful!) So after my first success, I started reading through the blog and found the Homemade Fish Sticks. And it uses the homemade bread for breadcrumbs. Cool. J

     I had planned on making mashed potatoes to go with this, but the timing didn't work out so we had a salad with our fish sticks. (I went ahead with the potatoes to freeze them to be a side with another dinner. I added that in after the fish sticks.)

Homemade Fish Sticks

1 lb frozen white fish fillets, such as cod
1 c. all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 c. homemade bread crumbs*
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp paprika
1 Tbsp lemon juice


Tuesday, January 15

Freezer Cooking on a Budget with a Small Freezer...

*Warning – This is a long post but seriously chocked full of good recipes and such. It’s totally worth reading all the way through!...despite the lack of pictures. J *

Have you been on Pinterest lately? There have been a good number of posts about freezer cooking and budget meal planning.  (I’m guessing it has to do with the start of the New Year and lots of resolutions to eat healthier and save money.) If you’re like me, you pin these things (and let’s face it, a ton of other things too) and they are never to be seen again.

But then I found a really cool blog through a post abouthomemade bread. I have really enjoyed reading through Andrea’s blog Pennies & Pancakes. Her angle seems to be making things yourself that you normally buy at the store either because it’s healthier that way or it saves you money or even both. I love this point of view and happen to completely agree with her. The first post I read was about making homemade bread – get this – without a bread maker! Woah now. I only ever make quick breads (like pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, banana bread, etc) and have never ventured anywhere near other breads because I thought you needed a bread maker…which I don’t have. This lady not only makes it without a bread maker, but she completely took away the intimidation factor. I’ll do a post on this later as I’m planning on tackling her homemade granola bars next. J  (But spoiler alert: The bread is delicious!!)

Maybe it was because I was feeling unstoppable after successfully making this bread (twice) that I felt I could attempt freezer cooking and a better budget meal plan. I feel I should take a moment to explain that I’ve read posts, lots of posts, about freezer cooking and how fantabulous it is. But these people have very nice very large freezers. They have room to prep 30-some meals in one afternoon and then freeze it all. I live in an apartment and barely have room for my usual freezer stuff. So after reading how awesome freezer cooking is, I move on without giving it any serious thought. And as for budgeting the meals – well, I do have a twice-a-month budget I have to stick to. And I did do a few posts about meal planning and all that. But then it fell to the wayside.

Tuesday, January 8

Cheers to the New Year!

      The start of a new year. Usually, at the start of each year, I am sad about having to start the whole year over again. See, I like the months from about September on and all the months prior are just spent getting to this point. It's odd, but this year I'm filled with excitement. Maybe this change of heart comes from being a mom. I know, I know. I've been a mom for 6 and a half years now. But I think this year is different because both girls are old enough to do more now than in past years, and they are truly enjoying it and Abby is now reaching the age where she remembers it. (The mind of kids younger than 3, or 4 even, have a hard time remembering things they've done in the past, like holidays and trips and such.) I feel so much hope and excitement about the first half of this year that I believe this is going to be a wonderful year!

Monday, January 7

Christmas Gingerbread Cookies

So I started with the first day of cookies, and then stopped. I really did do two more days after that but then I just got so overwhelmed with everything else that something had to give. But I would love to share one of the other cookies I did with you now.

Another cookie we made for Christmas were Gingerbread cookies! I know I've done gingerbread cookies before, but when I looked at my recipe I saw that it included shortening. *blech* I don't know why, but I've been in a mood where I try really hard to avoid using shortening. So anyway, I wanted to do something a little different from the usual gingerbread cookies. (Last Christmas for the 25 Days of Christmas Cookies I made Chewy Gingerbread Cookies.)

2 cups flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Set the bowl aside.

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