Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter dresses!

I have, for years before my daughters were even born, always wanted to sew for my kids. 

Unfortunately, my sewing experience, while not nonexistance, is very little.  I'm working on that. 

Here's proof.
I made this!

I actually made 2 of them!

By myself....Without any help (not counting tutorials).

The straps are crooked.  And the hem isn't straight (I have yet to be able to sew a perfectly straight line.  I don't think it's possible).  But, hey, I'm still proud.  And my girls love them!  That's enough for me.

Here's how I did it:
Using pre-shirred fabric and following a project sheet from the fabric store, I cut the bodice.
Since O's chest measurement was about 20 inches, I subtracted 3 inches (to allow it to fit snugly) and cut it at 17 inches.

Next, I folded it in half (right side in) and sewed a straight seam up the back. 

Flip it right side out and *bing* there you have it!

The next day, I remembered their torso's aren't that long, so I measured how long I wanted the bodice (from armpit to bellybutton) and cut the bodice to size.
The tutorial I followed for the skirt can be found over at Made.  (I l.o.v.e. her blog!  It is fantastic with so many great tutorials!  I really want to try and make this skirt for myself.  Every girl, no matter the age, needs a good twirly skirt.)  This tutorial was really easy to follow.  The only thing I did to modify it was that in place of an elastic band I used the shirred bodice.  It worked just fine.

Here's the circle all cut out.  Isn't it pretty? 

Also, because the bodice was cut from the chest measurement and skirt was cut from the waist measurement, there was more of a difference in size between the two.  To make up for that, I folded the fabric over at a few places along the waist.  It still looks good.

Once I had the skirt and the bodice sewn together, I added straps. 

For these, I cut 3-inch-wide strips of the fabric, 8 inches long (the measurement from the front of the armpit to the back). 
I folded each strip in half lengthwise (right side in) and sewed it up the length.  Then I flipped it right side out and ironed it. 

I don't particularly enjoy ironing, but in this case it was necessary.  If you don't iron, you get a tube.  If you iron, you get a flat strap.  That's what I wanted. 

I sewed the straps onto the bodice.  I measured where I wanted them to go while O was wearing the dress, but it was still crooked.  No matter, it isn't that crooked. 
I didn't take a picture of it, but I hemmed the skirt all the way around with a zigzag stitch.

Finally, I put the dresses on the girls and took pictures!  We would have gone outside, but it was pouring rain.  (And, yes, I have a tablecloth on the ground in my living room.  We were having a movie day and eating lunch while we watched.  This is easier than cleaning the carpet.  =))

I asked her to smile.  This is what I got!

Then I asked her to twirl.
There's a smile!

L was in on the fun too.  

A little uninterested at first...

Then she copied...

And joined the twirling!

Whew!  All tuckered out (yes, that tablecloth is clean.  We hadn't eaten yet!)

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vlog time!

I have decided to participate in a monthly vlog link party with Mamarazzi and Shawn.  What can I say?  It looked fun.  I'll probably be making this a monthly thing.  I like being able to hear other people's voices matched up with their faces and I'm hoping you'll like my voice.  =)

Ok, so, my voice is probably too soft (sorry), the room is way messier than it should be, and we have learned that if I point a camera at my face I tend to talk for a long time! 

Here is the list of words:

Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught, Antenna, Rootbeer, Ambulance, Museum, Milk, Orange, Apricot it is!  Enjoy!

Thanks Mamarazzi and Shawn!  I can't wait for next month!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Getting Organized, the pretty way

I have a binder.  It is black and drab and boring.

I use it, theoretically, to keep myself organized. 

I put my weekly schedule in it.  And my lists.  Lists of project ideas, things to do, people to see, games to play, blog ideas, recipes to try.  You know, fun stuff. 

The problem is, it's black...and drab...and boring. 

I look at it and it feels like work.

I decided that if I am going to be doing this for the rest of my life (which is my plan), I need to do something to make it more enjoyable. 


First I found this great piece of paper.

I cut it to size and then wrote a happy, inspiring quote on pencil first.
 (which, by the way, I should have done lighter because erasing this proved to be more work than it should have been.  If you do this, learn from my mistakes and don't press so hard with your pencil.)

Next, I got out my gel pens. 

It's been a while since I've played with my gel pens.  I had forgotten how much fun they are!  I traced over my too dark pencil lines with the beautiful gel pens.

And, here's the end result:
Sorry the pictures is kind of blurry, but you get the idea, right?  I have to admire it every time I look at it.  Now my binder is happy, inspirational...even motivating! 

And, good news, I have been inspired to make the rest of my organizing methods more fun and happy and inspirational...maybe even motivational!  Just a little something to look forward to.

P.S. I'm linking this here:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

It was one of my favorite books when I was growing up.  So, you can imagine how happy I was to find it for my girls! 

We loved it for a month or two, but apparently we loved it a little too much.  The cover just came right off. 

So, I set it aside to keep it safe. 

Then I had an idea.
It couldn't be too hard to make a new, more durable cover, could it?

There was only one way to find out.

So, I found some cute paper and measured it to fit.
I just opened the book to the center (where the staples are visible) and then traced a line just a little bigger around the book.  While the book was open, I removed the staples. 

Lesson Learned!  I should have been more generous tracing the line around the book, to allow for just a bit more room when folding the paper in half.

Next, I cut the paper out and covered it in contact paper.  Sorry I didn't get any pictures of that.  I was watching a movie with my Mister and kept forgetting to take pictures.  =)  But, really, I'm not that great at contact paper covering, so maybe you didn't want to see the struggle anyway. 

So...once the paper was covered, I folded it in half like a book.

I got a little stuck here.  My plan originally was to just staple everything back together, but I have an itty bitty stapler that couldn't handle such a large task.  I was forced to improvise.

I put the book on top of the new cover (opened up), matching the staple holes to the folded crease. 

Then, using a large yarn needle inserted in the previous staple holes, I poked holes in the new cover.
The contact paper was surprisingly durable (good!), so it took a little extra pushing, but it turned out perfect. 

I used some string I got on clearance forever ago and sewed through the holes to bind it all together. 

There was no real specific technique here, I just wanted it to stay together and be strong. 

And, it turned out great!  The book has held together quite nicely in O's excitement over the fixed book and I'm fighting the temptation to go through and recover all of her books! 

I linked this project up at Naptime Crafters!  Yay!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Play Dough

O loves play dough.  She likes to break it up into bits and roll it into tiny balls.  She also likes practicing shapes with cookie cutters.  It's great fun!

L has never tried it before, so this last time I took it out I decided to let her give it a try.
 I was well aware that I needed to watch her a little bit closer.  She tends to be more adventurous when it comes to putting things in her mouth. She doesn't realize the importance of making sure things are edible first. 

So, I was careful to show her how to roll it and tear it and press it, but never put it in her mouth.  I even cut out an "F" with a cookie cutter for her and let her practice with it. 

Then, I got distracted.  I stepped away for a minute.  And when I came back her teeth were red.

And this was on the table.  

I think, perhaps, I should find a recipe for edible play dough.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Jungle Girl Syndrome

I am a jungle girl.

Don't worry.  I'm pretty sure it's not contagious. 

All it really means is that weird things happen to me in kind of weird and random ways.  Sort of like I'm an accident waiting to happen, but a completely odd sort of accident. 

I fall up stairs a lot.  I trip on invisible cracks in the sidewalk.  I run into walls.  I find holes no one else can find.  I've sprained pretty much every joint in my body, including my jaw.  I stepped on a stingray once--the only person in a crowd of 6 or 7 to find a stingray to step on. 

Just to name a few of my random accidents.  I've often been told things like,"How does something like that happen?" or "I've never seen anything like that before!" or "That was the most spectacular stumble I've ever seen!"  Yeah, I like to keep things entertaining. 

The good news is, none of my accidents have been serious...just strange and unusual. 

Here's a good example:
 See those vicious cuts on my hand?  You would think I had a run in with a crazy cat or a rabid squirrel or something like that.  But, no...I had a run-in with spaghetti. 

Yup, you read that right.  I said spaghetti. 

It was raw...still stiff, not floppy.  I was breaking the spaghetti in half before dropping it in the boiling water.  The last batch, though, apparently didn't want to be broken and put up a little mini fight, leaving me with those nasty scratches. 

Crazy, right? 

But, what can I say.  I'm a jungle girl.  Things like that kind of come with the territory. 
I'm still a nice person.  =)

What about you?  Are you a jungle girl (or boy)?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes

This is one of my absolute favorite meals to make.  Not only is it delicious, but I also think it is fun to put together.

I don't actually have a formal recipe.  I learned to make this while watching my sister put it together and then I added my own modifications to it.  So, hopefully this will be understandable.  If you have any questions, though, feel free to ask!

First, start with some potatoes: washed and peeled.
 The amount you use will depend on how much you want to make.  I like to fill a 13 x 9 inch pan because I like to have leftovers.  This would feed my family of four (2 adults and 2 small kids) for a couple of meals at least.  I estimated about 2 potatoes per person, but, for some odd reason, I only took a picture of 7 potatoes.  Hmmm...

Moving on.  Dice the potatoes up really small.  I cut the potato in half then cut each half in half again lengthwise and again widthwise before chopping them up. 
 The smaller your potato pieces are, the less time it will take to cook.  I like to get to the food as quickly as possible, you know.

Put your chopped up potatoes in a greased 13 x 9 inch casserole dish.

Next, add half an onion, diced up.  The size of your dices depends on how strong you want the onion flavor.  I like it fairly strong.
 Throw the onions in with the potatoes and stir them up. 
 Try not to get too enthusiastic with the stirring, though.  Those potatoes will fly out of there pretty easily. 

Now is a good time to add some seasoning.  I stick with seasoned salt, but I'm sure garlic powder would be good too.  Whatever you like.
 Here comes the meat.  I use some form of sausage; it kind of varies depending on what I have or what I am in the mood for.  I got these beauties on sale.
 I cut these up small too so that they will crisp up a little while they are baking.  Cut each link in half lengthwise, cut that half again lengthwise and then slice and add to the pan and stir it up.
 O loves the sausage too.  She kept swiping pieces while I as trying to take pictures!

Now add some flour, enough to cover the potatoes.  This is probably about 1/4 cup.

Here is a secret ingredient:
 Add some ranch dressing mix (isn't it awesome that it comes in big bottles now?) on top of the flour...again, how much you add depends on your taste.  I like a pretty good amount.

Now, stir it all up again to get everything pretty well coated with the flour.  Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup of milk over the top of the potato mixture, making sure it covers the whole pan.  The milk mixed with the flour makes a beautiful and tasty sauce. 

Now put little pats of butter or margarine over the top of the pan (evenly spaced of course). 
 Top it all off with a generous amount of shredded cheese.  Mmmmmmmm
 Cover it with foil (so the cheese doesn't burn) and throw it in the oven (350 degrees) for 30 to 45 minutes, until those potatoes are good and soft. 

Pull it out, let it cool for a few minutes, dig in, and enjoy!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cake Pops!

 I've been wanting to try cake pops for a long while and finally had an excuse to make them for a friend's birthday last week. 

They were really pretty easy to make and lots of fun.  My only problem was I ran out of dipping chocolate and I haven't had time to make more! 

Also, they aren't as pretty as Bakerella's. 
 And, I wish I had a better camera.  All in good time, though. 

They still tasted good and they still look yummy.  That's all that matters, right? 
 Oh, that and I've still got a freezer full of cake balls waiting to be dipped and popped!  I know what snack we're having for Conference!