Yes, yes there is. Are you about ready to claw your eyes out? Have you sneezed so much that no one in your house bothers to say 'bless you' any more? Are you walking around in a fog because the only way you can somewhat breathe at night is if you sleep on your left side, with one elbow under your pillow and your head at a very uncomfortable 62 degree angle? Yeah....me too. I hate allergy season. But I may have managed to eek out something positive from all of the itching, scratching, sneezing and wheezing!?
I have been working with a group of ladies to organize and host a spring party for over 100 military members and their families -- it's actually been a lot of fun, and thanks to everyone's creativity and hard work, not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.....well, I guess that has yet to be seen, the party is not until tomorrow, so.....we'll see!? Anyway, a few weeks ago I was on my way out to the recycle can with an arm full of empty tissue boxes, with the spring party planning fresh on my mind, when I realized that I was holding perfectly good boxes that could be up-cycled into something for the party. What, you ask? Utensil holders of course :)
One of my biggest pet-peeves at large parties is when the utensils are just thrown on the table, or hidden under potluck dishes -- 9 times out of 10 I forget to grab my utensils and then I end up having to go back to the start of the line, disrupting everyone patiently waiting their turn so that I can reeeeeeeeach through the crowd and fumble around for anything with a pointy end -- I know I am not the only one, because I have been on the receiving end of the constant 'excuse me I forgot my fork' reach and grab more times than not....and as a result, I have narrowly avoided plenty of cascading chips, shifty salads and falling fruits. Well, this is NOT going to happen tomorrow! :) Thanks to these lovely up-cycled tissue boxes!
Here's what to do:
Gather empty Tissue Boxes
Cut off the top panel of each box
Wrap in Paper -- I used plain ole computer paper and used tape to hold in place
Then Cut 2 Strips of Burlap slightly narrower than the width of the box -- fold over the box and tape.
Wrap the entire thing in 2 strands of Raffia, then tie in a bow
You could do many variations of this: use colored or patterned paper, use fabric instead of burlap, use ribbon instead of raffia....the possibilities are endless! These are perfect for large parties, backyard BBQs, any gathering involving food and utensils :)
They are pretty light weight, so I am a little bit nervous about them blowing away should a gust of wind come along, but I plan to put a few rocks at the bottom to weigh them down -- you could also use a few metal washers, some marbles, a river rock, etc. I will try to remember to take a few pictures of them in action at the party tomorrow! Wish us luck! :)
I think I mentioned that one of my 2013 sewing resolutions is to learn how to make (simple) clothes!? Well, I have been very anxious to get going, and wanted to share with you my first attempt at making pajamas! :)
It's sort of a long story....but this little shorts and long sleeve shirt set started as a nightgown....I have been using The Trendy Treehouse's tutorial to make my daughter a series of peasant dresses -- super cute! This tutorial is so easy and so versatile, you can make short, 3/4 or long sleeves -- a dress or a tunic top! I decided to change the fabric to a knit jersey and use the same techniques to make a nightgown. Only this time, feeling confident, I decided to 'get fancy' and taper the body of the gown to fit my duaghter's measurement more closely.....except that I made them a little too close! Not enough give around her ribcage :( and although this didn't seem to bother her (she still wanted to wear the 'super cozy jammies' every night), it pained me to see them so snug on her. So.....I decided to chop the gown in half, cut out two leg holes, sew an inseam, add some elastic around the waist to create a simple set of shorts that I thought she could pair with one of her already existing PJ tops.....but oh no, she still wanted the too snug top half....alas, we have ended up with this, not nearly perfect, but cozy and practical none the less!
So, whether you're looking to make a peasant dress, a super cozy nightgown, a PJ short and shirt set, or some hybrid of the three, give this tutorial a look see! Luckily, I have another yardage of jersey knit sitting in my fabric stash...hopefully I can get the gown measurement right this next go 'round :)
2012 was quite a busy year! And what I find most interesting, as I look back at my sewing projects over the last 365 days, is that a large majority of my time was spent sewing key fobs rather than quilts...I made nearly 400 key fobs in 2012! Crazy!? I have enjoyed every moment of my sewing adventures this last year, and as I continue to watch my kids grow and become (a little) more independent, I too wonder how I can grow as a sewer....my sewing resolution for 2013 -- learning to make clothes! :)
I am thankful every day for the decision I made 2 years ago to start this blog, my Etsy store and my adventures in sewing -- I really, truly and honestly do not know where I would be without it! I encourage you all to branch out this year, find a hobby that interests, and even intimidates you, no matter how big or small, and go for it!
Here is a quick glimpse back at the quilts I made in 2012!
I am hosting an End of The Year Sale until the 6th in my Etsy store! Take an additional 20% all quilts! Enter code: HAPPY2013 at checkout to receive your discount!
I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2013!
Last night I got a wild hair. And as a result have opened, what I think is going to be, a HUGE can of worms :) I finally decided to take the plunge....I made a dress for my daughter! I've always dreamed of being able to sew her (and my) wardrobe from top to bottom -- how fun would that be!? But of course I was always limited by my own inexperience in sewing and the seemingly daunting task of teaching myself the basics in clothes making....which, if you play by the rules, means following patterns....and I hate patterns.
So, I decided to search the web using 'easy tutorials for girls clothing' as my guide and stumbled onto a TON of helpful tutorials on making anything from leggings to capes to skirts, tops and dresses! This, is where the wild hair comes in.....it was 8:30 PM, motivated and excited by the tutorials I found online, I decided 'I'm going to make a dress!' And off I went to the sewing closet to pick fabrics and begin my project.....I wasn't confident it would turn out very well, but wanted to get my feathers wet.....
To my surprise, it worked!
I used two wonderful tutorials from CraftyCuboard and from DanaMadeIt to make this awesomely easy dress....It is essentially a circle skirt attached to a t shirt!
A great project for beginners and one that is so versatile! The tutorial called for a sash around the waist, but I decided to use the leftover fabric that I cut out to make the radius of the circle skirt as an embellishment for the top of the dress. You could also layer the skirt with different fabrics or add a contrasting hem to the bottom of the skirt....or even shorten the skirt length and turn it into a tunic top -- really you could make so many different looks with these tutorials!
It took me about an hour from start to finish. I could hardly sleep last night thinking about how my daughter was going to react to seeing her dress in the morning! She took one open-mouthed look at it and proclaimed 'I love it! Can I please wear it today!?' So....now I am hooked :) So much so, that I spent this morning (the one day a week I have 'off' when all of the kids are in school) at Joann's buying yards and yards and yards of fabric to make more dresses! ....Next up, a peasant style dress....
Stay Tuned...If all goes well, you might be seeing a dress or two available in my store in the near future :)
When my boys were babies...well, younger babies that is, I made all of their baby food from scratch. Not for any other reason than that they ate a TON of food -- I would have had to rob a bank to pay for the amount of store bought jarred baby food I would have had to buy to keep their bellies full! As you might imagine, they are not picky eaters, but what they LOVED the most was when I made butternut squash puree. So, it surprises me when I realize that I have never made my own pumpkin puree!? To think that, after all of the baby food I have made, the fact that the boys' favorite baby food came from the squash/gourd family, and the fact that I LOVE pumpkin anything...it never even crossed my mind to make fresh pumpkin puree!? I guess that's what happens when you get into grocery store auto-drive....just picking things off of the shelf and tossing them into the cart without thinking about whether or not it is healthier, less expensive and even easier to make your own from scratch.
Anyway, thanks to PInterest, my eyes were opened: 'hey, homemade pumpkin puree looks pretty darn easy, inexpensive and good!' I made my first batch last night -- along with some pumpkin bread using my fresh puree -- and I am here to tell you that I will never go back to canned pumpkin! The taste difference is pretty remarkable and I can't wait to try the fresh puree in all of my other pumpkin recipes...pumpkin pie -- oh my!
The process is VERY easy and the rewards are... well, delicious!
Here's how to make your own puree!
-PreHeat Oven to 350 degrees.
-Line a rimmed cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.
-Cut your Pie Pumpkin* in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits
-Place each half of the pumpkin face down (skin side up) on the cookie sheet
-Cover the pumpkin halves with more tin foil
-Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 60-90 min -- pumpkin is done when you can pierce the skin easily with a skewer and the flesh is soft.
-Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and let cool until pumpkin can be handled safely.
-Flip the cooked pumpkin halves over and scoop out the flesh from the skin (this should be very easy, like scooping butter) and place in a large bowl.
-Mash the pumpkin flesh with a potato masher or fork.
-Use your pumpkin puree right away or store in glass canning jars and place in the freezer for later use! That's it!
*A pie pumpkin can be found at your local grocery store -- they are smaller sized pumpkins, usually around 8 inches in diameter and have more flesh and a less stringy texture than their larger Jack-o-Latern brothers. Although, you may be able to find these smaller pumpkins at your local patch too, that is where I found the one I used.
In the mean time, all of this talk of baby food and purees had made me miss these two little roly-poly baby faces...
Sniff, Sniff....it's amazing how quickly time flies!
Life is funny sometimes, isn't it? Yesterday a friend of mine emailed to ask if I could sew her a couple of handmade hot/cold packs for her sons -- I had never attempted to make one before, but had saved the idea on one of my Pinterest boards a while back (by the way, I am obsessed with Pinterest....you should follow me! :)). Today, my daughter woke up complaining of a headache...something very unusual for her -- she hardly ever complains of physical ailments. Then, when she came home from school this afternoon, she really started to whine that her ear was hurting....uh oh...a dreaded ear infection!? She has never had an ear infection (I can hear all you moms letting out a collective, spiteful sigh...I know....I DO thank my lucky stars!) My immediate thought was to panic...I always do when she says she is hurting or sick because she rarely ever mentions that she is. My next thought....hey, now would be a great time to make those Hot/Cold packs!
Essentially two pieces of equally sized fabrics sewn together, filled with rice and, in our case, fragranced with some essential oil. That's it! Once the sewing is complete, you can pop the pack into the microwave for about 20 seconds and it is nice and toasty and ready to take on any ache or pain! My daughter was THRILLED to help in making her special pack -- she picked the fabric from my scraps, watched as I sewed, helped measure out the rice and chose her essential oil fragrance from my stash...she decided on orange because it 'smells like candy!'
I think the excitement of making this pack had therapeutic properties in and of itself because she became a lot less agitated during the process :)
Once everyone had their turn at taking HUGE sniffs of the wonderful orange fragrance coming from the warmed pack, I had my daughter lay her aching ear on it while she and her brothers watched 'Rescuers From Down Under' for the 13th time this week....yes, as a child of the 80s, this makes my heart smile :)
I was really surprised by how well and how long this pack held in heat -- after a few minutes she claimed that her ear was already feeling better. Smiles once again!
After the heat wore off, we gave the pack a rest for dinner and then warmed it back up again for her to take to bed with her -- she was very excited! Whether it was the heat, the delicious smell, the fun fabric, the novel idea or a little mixture of it all, this hot/cold pack certainly made my daughter feel a little better, which made me feel A LOT better :)
These homemade packs can be made in any size or shape, can be made to use hot or cold by placing in the microwave or the freezer -- the perfect accessory to combat the upcoming cold and flu season and really the perfect accessory to use year round for aching muscles, for stiff necks and backs or for simple body temperature regulation.
These are seriously better than candy! I found this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago and decided to finally get around to making them this afternoon for the kids....except, that something went wrong...I'm not quite sure what, since the ingredient list is so small and I followed the directions?? I was left starring at a bowl of very dry...peanut butter dust....aside from the obvious moisture issue, this recipe was lacking a certain...pizzaz! So, I improvised -- using this peanut butter dust to create something....well, magical....yes, magical! The 'bones' of the recipe were there, I just added a few things to bind the ingredients and send the flavor soaring!
CHEWY PEANUT BUTTER + MAPLE BITES
Makes Aprox. 25 Ping Pong Ball Sized Bites
1 1/2 cups Old Fashion Oats
1 1/2 cups Powdered Milk
1/2 cup Honey
1 cup Natural Peanut Butter
2 1/2 tsp Natural Maple Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cup Water
Measure out the oats and place in a food processor or blender and pulse until finely chopped. Add ground oats and all remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a spoon, or your hands, until well incorporated.
Next, form peanut butter mixture into balls -- I made mine roughly ping pong ball sized -- and place on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Once all of the balls are formed, place cookie sheet in the freezer for 10 min or until firm. Enjoy!
I cannot stress enough how delightful these treats are!! The next time you are having a sweet craving, try these instead! Very filling, perfectly sweet and salty, a wonderfully chewy texture...overall, a perfect Fall snack! Great for kids' lunches too!
This week is my daughter's 5th Birthday! I can hardly believe it.... In celebration, I decided to combine a couple of ideas I found on Pinterest to create her own special treats to share at school: Trix Pop Treats! Think Rice Crispy treat, meets Trix, meets Cake Pops :)
What I LOVE most about these cute confections, is that they are EASY, portable and virtually mess-free while at the same time being unique, bright, fun and sweet! Here's how to make them:
(makes aprox. 40 golf ball sized pops)
Wilton Lollipop/Cale Pop Stciks (I bought mine at Joann's)
Wilton Clear Treat Bags and Twist Ties (also bought at Joann's)
1 Box of Trix
Make the Trix Treats the same as you would Rice Crispy Treats....I made mine more 'marshmallowy' than normal to ensure that they would form a tight ball and keep the lollipop stick firmly in place. Once you have the trix and marshmallows mixed in your large bowl. Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes...Spray your hands with cooking spray or butter and begin forming the trix mixture into balls -- like popcorn balls...poke a lollipop stick through the ball, place in the clear treat bag and twist tie closed! It's that simple...
You could display these in so many neat and creative ways for a birthday party -- or pack them up in a simple cake pan and tote them off to school! :) These were very fun to make and again...very easy! woo hoo! Happy 5th Birthday to my beautiful and vivacious daughter!!
I've hit 'quilter's block' with my sparkle punch quilt, so it's time to start a new project! To get the creative juices flowing again :) I am planning on cutting into this lovely stack of fabric this weekend, although I am not sure what quilt design I will go for....
I also wanted to include a quick run down of this weeks' bento lunches -- with the first week of school under our belt, I think it's going to be a great year of fun and learning...and of lunch making! :) My plan, for now, is to have a main course lunch menu for each month -- sort of like we did in grade school....Here is our menu for August:
Mondays -- Tortilla Roll Ups
Tuesdays -- Mini Pizzas
Wednesday -- Breakfast
Thursday -- Quesadillas
Friday -- Fairy Bread Sandwich (this will be an every Friday treat!)
The idea is to use the days as a guide for making lunches but to vary the food within that category each week ie: Mondays are roll-ups, but I will make a different type of roll-up each Monday -- I am hoping that if I give myself a framework for ideas it will make things less complicated...
Next month I will change the daily food themes and so and and so forth :) That's the plan anyway!
For Food Descriptions, hover over or click on the Picture
I forgot to snap a picture of the Quesadilla Bento, but I just did cheese quesadillas cut into flower shapes with a cookie cutter, strawberry yogurt, cubed mango and mild salsa for dipping. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
It's the day every mom dreams of and dreads at the same time....my oldest's first day of KINDERGARTEN! We had a wonderful morning today -- filled with smiles, excitement and anticipation! I even took a crack at my first bento style lunch for my daughter! From my perspective, it was a huge success! It was super easy to assemble and made organizing her lunch....fun! I have yet to see if she feels the same way about it :) I guess I will find out this afternoon...
Ham & Cream Cheese Pinwheels, Carrot Coins w/ Ranch, Grape Skewers, Cheese Bars
There are so many bento lunch ideas out there on the web -- most seem waaaaay too complicated for me, so I decided to just go with something simple and eye-catching :) Her lunch includes: Ham and Cream Cheese Pinwheels, Carrot Coins w/Ranch for dipping, Grape Skewers and Cheese Bars. I packed her lunch in the Sassy On the Go bento style box, which you can find in pink or blue on Amazon.Although I am new to this style of lunch packing, I am already IN LOVE with this Sassy container -- it comes with a middle divider, and 3 smaller matching boxes w/lids inside! Giving you countless packing options! I also found these AMAZING 1 oz. tupperware containers w/lids that are going to be perfect for dips, sauces and spreads! Of all of the bento advice websites I have found, I like AnotherLunch.com the best! She does a wonderful job reviewing many different style boxes and gives a whole heap of lunch food ideas! I am always looking for fun and EASY lunch ideas -- I'd love to hear your favorite bento lunch ideas! ...If this continues to go smoothly, I may start a section on my blog showing pictures of the bentos I pack, if you are looking for ideas too!