Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas treats...

I love baking.  It is so rewarding to take the individual ingredients and blend them together in just the right ratios so that the end product is worthy of savoring.  And I really love the savoring.  A welcome break from school and my favorite holiday (Christmas!) is the perfect excuse to get the kitchen nice and messy.

First, we celebrated my husband's birthday with pizza and cake.  Pizza dough recipe was from the smitten kitchen, and Lt. Dan's Truffle Cake was from my first cookbook. My aunt gave it to me when I was maybe twelve, and every recipe I've tried from it has been a success. 

Don't worry, my husband isn't 14.  I didn't want to burn the house down :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

favorite mac n' cheese recipe

I LOVE homemade mac n' cheese.  I love it the first day, and I love it even more as leftovers the next day.  Luckily, my hubby and daughter also love mac n' cheese.  It's easy and quick to make, and if you mix in some meat and vegetables you have a complete meal.  Plus, once you have the white sauce mastered, you can use it in chicken pot pie, as cheese sauce for cauliflower, Alfredo sauce and the list goes one.  So here's the recipe I use:

Yummy Mac n' Cheese 

2 cups uncooked macaroni (or other pasta)
1/4 c. butter or margarine
1/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
10 oz. cheese (I sometimes use a mixture of cheeses but keep at least 50% cheddar)

Cook the pasta.  While it's cooking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and start your white sauce.  Melt butter in a sauce pan over med-low, then sprinkle flour, salt and pepper and stir until it gets well incorporated and kind of bubbly and shiny.  Might take a couple minutes.  Then remove from heat and pour in your milk slowly while stirring.  (I like to take the chill off my milk in the microwave first so it cooks faster.)   Heat the milk to boiling on med-high, stirring often, then boil one minute while stirring constantly.  It should be thicker and delicious looking at this point.  Then remove from heat and stir in chopped up or shredded cheese and dry mustard.  Stir in drained pasta and any add-ins.  Pour into a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish and bake in the oven, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until the top is bubbly.  The baking in the oven portion isn't necessary if you're really hungry right now, but it allows the pasta to soak up the cheese sauce and the top to get bubbly.  Be warned -- once you try this recipe you won't make boxed mac n' cheese ever again!

Mix it up with:
-different cheeses (pepper jack, mozzarella, feta)
-garlic or onion powder
-cubed or deli ham and broccoli
-other veggies (peas, sauteed bell peppers, spinach, squash)
-chicken, chili powder and salsa
-ground beef, bacon and a jar of diced tomatoes 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

make sumthin' sunday - shopping cart cover

(I made and wrote this a couple months ago, I just kept on forgetting to take a picture of it.  Oops!)

Shopping cart / High chair cover

This has been on my short list of projects ever since Fuzz got hand, foot and mouth disease after grocery shopping.  The month before that it was fifth disease!  I'm glad she's getting these diseases now while her immune system is working so well, but I could use a break.  Especially since my immune system is a little rundown from a year (plus the last trimester of pregnancy) without eight solid hours of sleep (update-I often get eight hours of sleep now, finally), and I keep catching everything she gets.  I thought I'd miss out on the fifth disease since I had it in first grade, but sadly, I was wrong.  Maybe protecting Fuzz from shopping carts and restaurant high chairs will help!

The finished product -- no smiles for the camera today!

I used a couple tutorials.  Mostly this one from sewing chick studio, but also this one from lil blue boo.  It's two layers of fabric -- corduroy next to the shopping cart for durability and fleece next to Fuzz for cushiness.  I also made the pockets out of the corduroy for contrast.  I really liked the fleece (from Joann's), and the corduroy has been in my stash for awhile (originally stolen from my mom's stash -- it's probably from the early '80s).  Don't worry, I'll still have enough of the corduroy to make these pants from Shwin & Shwin for Fuzz when she's a little older.

The cover does its job well, and is easily big enough for any cart.   It was a fast project and I think there would be room for a couple more leg holes if I wanted it to fit two kiddos like you can in those big Costco carts.  Of course, then I should probably get another kid and a Costco membership.  I'll get right on that.  I added a large elasticized pocket for toys and a smaller pocket for cheerios along with a couple loops out of bias tape for more toys. 

Both of the tutorials were good.  The only changes I made were bias tape around the leg holes because I didn't have any foldover elastic, and 1/2" elastic around the top (because that's what I had).  If I make another one for a shower gift, the only thing I would change is making the leg holes an inch or so shorter and the pockets shorter so they could be more functional.  As they are they sit on the handle, and I haven't taken the time to fix them.  Honestly, I probably won't. Oh well.  Fuzz can still get her hand into the snack pocket.  All things considered, I love it.  I spent less money on it than if I had bought one on sale, it's unique and should last awhile! 

What did you make lately?  This week I plan on tailoring some scrubs to fit me a little better, so nothing to write home about.  Have fun being creative this week!

Friday, September 21, 2012

first favorite friday

Fiona bra from Moving Comfort

So I found the space heater!  Yippee!  It's starting to get chilly at nights here and we currently don't have any kind of a heating system.  Yep.  No fun.  We have a fireplace waiting for a new cap, and we're getting bids to replace a broken oil furnace.  Oh, the joys of home ownership.  On to favorite Friday --

From the GIANT sports bra picture did you guess it?  One of my favorite products is my sports bra.  I was never very impressed by the sports bras you buy for fifteen or twenty bucks; and the slightly more expensive ones from Nike and Adidas just smash your boobs and make it hard to breath.  Then I read an article somewhere about the importance of a good sports bra because all that annoying and painful jiggling stretches the ligaments out and causes permanent saggage.  Scary stuff, I know.  I wish I would have read that article when I was playing sports in high school.  Moving Comfort was a recommended brand and REI had them in stock to try on, so off I went on a bra hunt.  I jumped and ran in place in the fitting room (yes, I felt silly) and the girls moved with me! And they stopped moving when the rest of me stopped!  Success!  I love this sports bra, I've bought several over the last few years, and will buy more.  You definitely want to try them on before buying and REI and Five Star Sports carries them in stock in the Eugene/Corvallis area.  I've noticed them in more and more stores though, so let me know if you find them elsewhere. 

A couple features I like:
-hook and eye closure in the back allows for the perfect fit
-straps adjust with velcro in the front allowing for easy adjustments on the go (and handy for breastfeeding)
-the fabric doesn't loosen up if you wear them a few times before washing them or over time
-they come in actual bra sizes (the website lists them in B-DD in most band sizes)

Keep in mind that my first one shrunk about an inch around the band when I dried it in the dryer, so now I line dry them.  I could buy a size bigger, but that might make me feel bad about my body.  That's the opposite of what I'm attempting with exercise.  

If you're happy with your current sports bra, then I'm sorry I took your time.  But if you're like I was and the pain caused by your untamed breasts is just one more reason to avoid jogging, then you might try this bra out.

That's all for now! 

I'm baaack...

It's been awhile!  I took a little break (okay, a really long break) from blogging because our family was a little busy.  Were you wondering what we've been up to?  (I hope not, that'd be a little weird.)  Well, Fuzz and I took a trip up to Washington to visit Gramma, Grandpa and lots more family.  There was a lot of water balloon throwing and squirt gun fun instigated by Gramma.  Fuzz had her first otter pop and took her first steps while we were there, too.  Then a couple weeks later we went up to Wallowa Lake for a family reunion.  The area is beautiful, and if you go, take the gondola ride up to the top of the mountain.  The views were awe-inspiring.
She did not care for otter pops!
The view from the top of the gondola ride.  Me, Fuzz, Brian and Gramma Bev

There were a couple of very tame bucks
Fuzz and her cousin celebrated their first birthdays!

Friday, July 20, 2012

On a happier note...

Here's what's blooming this week...
Jumble of blooms: Gaura, Veronica speedwell seedling, Japanese anemone "September Charm" and alium and snapdragons in the background
Gorgeous lily -- orange is not my favorite color in the garden, but I love this lily

Sea thrift (not miniature version)

Tragedy in Colorado

If you didn't see any news today, there was a shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and 12 people died last night at midnight.  58 more were injured.  How can a person do that?  I have so many questions about how and why this happened, but I want to focus on just one.

What can I do to keep this from happening again?

Am I showing the love of God in all my interactions?  None of the people I have relationships with are capable of anything like this, but who knows how many people I walk by in the grocery store have thought about shooting into a crowd.  I have a brief chance to make a tiny difference in their day.  The next time I'm in a bad mood or want to scowl at a stranger or simply ignore them, I will try not to.  Not in fear that they will shoot me, but to try to show them a little love.  As my little girl grows up, I'll try to teach her to do the same.  We pray with her every day at bedtime, and I always pray that she will be happy and healthy, but most of all love God.  If you love God, you'll love others.  Even when it's hard. 

That's all I have to say about it tonight.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

(so cute) Baby Girl Shorts Tutorial

Hey look, my first tutorial!  How did I get here?  Through pinterest, I discovered the wonderful world of craft blogs and tutorials.  The first blog I looked at was craftiness is not optional, and I struck gold!  Jess has tons of wonderfully written little girl tutorials that look doable, and are sooo adorable.  Confession time:  I haven't actually done any of them.  However, reading them gave me confidence to make my own outfit.  Awhile ago, I found the sweetest Easter outfit at Gymboree on clearance.  Fuzz has an extremely long torso, and it was a belly shirt instead of a tunic on her -- not quite a look I like.  So, I tweaked and copied it.  Surprisingly, it turned out well!

What do you do when something turns out well?  Make three more of course!  Altogether, I made four little outfits of the same design for Fuzz and her three little friends.  They had pictures on Sunday by Marci, and I'll post one when I get them back.  Somehow, I managed to make four tops without remembering to take pictures from the beginning, but I did take pictures of the shorts.  Here's the end result:
The dress and bias tape fabric is Meadow Gray Peacock Lane by Violet Craft, it looks like they still have it on clearance at Fabric Envy.  The pink is pomegranate by moda (I think, I got it from Joann's), yellow is Bella solids in 30's yellow by moda and blue is kona solids in lagoon.  I was impressed by the quality of all of the fabrics.

Today I'm just going to attempt to explain the shorts.  Make sure the directions make sense to you when you're making them.  Leave a comment if you have any questions. 

(Bear with me, I'm new at this)

Materials needed:
Less than 1/2 yard 44" wide woven fabric
1" single fold bias tape (or 1/2" double fold ironed open)
Elastic cord
Elastic for waistband (I used 1/2")
Note: I used a 3/8" seam allowance unless otherwise stated. 

Optional pre-step: make your own bias tape.  I used this tutorial from made and another one I can't find now.  It was much easier than I thought it would be!  Plus, the quality of the bias tape was (way) better than the store-bought stuff. 

1.  Here's the pattern I made: Shorts front, shorts back 1 and shorts back 2.  I wasn't sure how to share the scanned pattern.  Please let me know if it worked or any suggestions you have to make it easier.  It's basically 12-18 month size, but cut generously so the shorts are extra poofy.  Because baby girls need extra poofy shorts.  Size up or down using bloomers you like the fit of.  Cut two fronts and two backs. 

2.  Pin and sew the fronts to the backs at inseams (A to AA), right sides together.  Press seam open.  (No picture, you can figure that out.)

3.  Pin and sew crotch, matching front to front and back to back (B to B and BB to BB).  Trim seam at curviest part of crotch. 
4.  Open up and pin and sew side seams (C to CC).  So, right sides together front to back.  They should look like shorts now.  I pressed all the seams the same direction to make inserting the elastic in the waistband easier.  You can press the seams however you like.

(Ignore the bias tape around the leg openings for now.)

5.  Open up the single fold bias tape and pin the right side of the bias tape to the right side of the leg openings (D).  When you get all the way around the leg opening, overlap 1/2" and cut.  Now pin the ends of the bias tape together and sew with a 1/4" seam allowance. Press open. 

6.  Now sew in the fold of the bias tape around the leg.

7.  Fold over, press and pin.  

8.  Sew 1/8" away from other edge of bias tape, leaving a 1" opening to insert elastic cord.  Also, sew down the middle of the bias tape. 

9.  Make a casing for the waistband (E), folding over 1/4" then 3/4".  Pin and sew leaving opening to insert elastic.

 10.  Insert elastic cord in leg openings.  Measure around the top of the leg and add 1/2" for overlap.  Close to 10.5" worked for all four little girls.  I found that sewing the elastic cord together by hand was least frustrating.  Sew casing closed.

11.  Insert 1/2" elastic into waistband.  Again, measure your little one, this time around her belly button and add 1/2" for overlap.  The girls varied from 16-20" here, averaging 10 months old.  Overlap and sew elastic ends together with a zigzag stitch or big X.  Sew casing closed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blooms, blooms, blooms...

The front yard planting is looking pretty good -- it still has lots of color.  I don't know about you, but by the end of July I'm a little lacking in blooms.  I'm always looking for more easy-care perennials (or even annuals in a pinch) that are blooming well starting the end of July and into August.  I'll be keeping my eyes peeled the next few weeks, will you keep a lookout, too?

Here are my favorites this week:
Coreopsis verticillata (I think)

Penstemon possibly "Garnet"

Japanese anemone "September Charm"

Shasta daisies-from a single seed many years ago

David Austin rose "Strawberry Hill"

I'm working on a tutorial for cute and easy shorts for baby girls, so watch for another post soon!

Happy gardening!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 5th of July!  We had a nice Independence Day yesterday with a visit with family we haven't seen in a while and a few fireworks at 7:00 pm for Fuzz's benefit.  Fireworks are pretty lame during the day.  She didn't know what to think.
I thought I picked quiet ones, but the grand finale had some loud crackles that she did not like.

Daddy save me!
On another note, here's what's blooming in my garden lately:

"Nikko Blue" hydrangea

Hydrangea from Grandma Stella

Lots of peas!
 Here's what's coming in the garden...

Another flush of roses (Graham Thomas) and more lilies


Friday, June 29, 2012


So, Stella and I were invited to a little friend's first birthday party.  It's for one of the little boys belonging to the Birchwood & Almond gals.  We're pretty excited ...
So is this little guy.  I won't say I whipped him up.  I'm not that talented.  I worked on him both naps, for an hour before dinner, and probably 30 minutes after Fuzz went to bed.  I'm not a whipper-upper. When I try to whip things up things go wrong.  Very, very wrong.  Maybe I'll tell you about Fuzz's first pj pants someday.  Maybe.  Back to today --

I followed this pattern (I stole it from my mother) ...
Used these materials ...
Had help from a little gal ...
And eventually finished!
I love using old jeans (these were from high school, I hang on to denim scraps for days like these), because they are SO soft and then you can add details to your project like this ...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Here it is... another blog by a sleep-deprived stay-at-home momma.  I'm not sure yet what this will look like, but I'm hoping to post about finished projects, gardening ruminations and some philosophical wanderings. Who am I and why am I worth reading?  Well, I'm just another housewife with a talent for starting projects and a love of growing things.  Once upon a time I fancied writing a novella, and then I finished college (for the first time -- I'm starting again in the Fall) and had no incentive to write.  I'd like to use this blog as my incentive.  My incentive to finish projects, become better at gardening, and to write regularly.  Practice makes better, you know.  Hopefully, I'll be worth reading.

What kind of projects do I make?  Mostly stuff for my little girl right now.  My sweet little daughter is ten months old and ... busy!  We'll just call her Fuzz for now.  I also like projects around the house and giftable projects.  I'm not terribly creative so I follow a lot of blogs.  Luckily for me, there are a lot of terribly creative mommas out there!
Fuzz with Miss Blue Dog

What does my garden look like?  I love to grow flowers that make beautiful bouquets and grow with as little maintenance as possible.  My flower beds are chock full of sun-loving perennials.  There's also a couple of raised beds of veggies and a weedy patch of strawberries.   
Iris with yarrow in background
My calla lilies were spectacular this year!

That's about all for now ... my pillow is calling my name!