28 May 2017

what we're doing besides posting online

Holy. Cow. 5 months of the year already gone! The blog has been quiet because our lives certainly are NOT!

We decided in January to renovate our kitchen and Adam has been working pretty much nonstop since then. He built all the cabinets in our garage in January and February. We bought a new fridge so he could custom build cabinets around it. He did all the wiring to reroute the electricity here and there. He did plumbing with the sink and water hookup for the fridge. He retiled sections of the kitchen floor and it blends in really nicely - you can only tell where it is if you know what to look for in the grout. With moving a doorway, he learned how to make his drywall patching blend a lot more nicely. He's been a busy guy!


TEARING IT OUT: Except for 4 days in April when Adam had to fix a sink plumbing issue, the kitchen has remained functional the entire time. My kitchen project job has been to clean up after him, occasionally hold something in place while it gets nailed in, and keep the kids out of his way.

GOOD RIDDANCE to the counter tile!!

Our friend Andy came over to help Adam with the final breakdown


Current status: all cabinets and appliances are in place, and now Adam is doing the detail work like the cabinet facings and drawers. The counters are plywood with contact paper stapled to it, and will probably remain that way until the fall. We want an entire granite slab (rather than a teeny sample square like at Home Depot) and are trying to pay cash for the whole thing - so far, so good, but our budget got thrown off this spring from some kid-dental work. In the end, we should have a $40,000 kitchen for $10K or less. But that's still a hefty chunk in one year!

My house part just started this month - I'm the painter. So far, I've done the reading room in a light blue-gray with ultra white for the window trim. I started on the trim in the front hall area. There's a lot of blue edging tape up! We're testing paint colors for the kitchen. The blue-gray will carry into the kitchen, with an accent wall. Adam wanted it to be "cranberry." We played around with shades and ended up getting "Sugar Beet" from Home Depot. Adam was painting up the sample when JK (age 4) came running in. "Oooooo! Magenta!" HA HA HA! The hall from the front door all the way to the back bedroom will eventually be some shade of gray, and the girls want their bedrooms painted lavender. Still very much at the beginning of my part.

the old yellow getting covered with the blue-gray. The front door and hall are slated to change color as well.

I've done quite a bit of sewing here and there but nothing is done yet except the girls' bedroom curtains. Only one set is up because Adam stole the other curtain rod for the living room. I bought a new living room rod but we haven't swapped them yet. (Kitchen.) Photos of the curtains haven't turned out because of being backlit by the sun coming through the window ... still working on it.

In January, I made the first block for SM's Night Sky quilt - I saw a picture on a Google search for quilt star shapes (sorry for no source - I can't find it again), and figured out on graph paper how to make it with half-square triangles (HST). This is 16x16 inches - the starting squares were 5 inches. When made into the HSTs, they sized out at 4 1/2 inch squares to allow for a quarter-inch seam allowance on all sides to finish at 4 inches. Yes, actually, it did take me awhile - and some pretty botched up blocks for another project (if you want 2-inch HSTs, you start with 3-inch squares) - to figure that out.

Then sewing came to a screeching halt, because my iron died in February. I just replaced it.  I'm now in process on a dress for JK (with 3 more clothing items waiting for action), and have done 3 more blocks for SM's quilt. I've also started some strip piecing for RG's quilt, and fiddled around with some fabric for a 3rd one. I've been bookmarking specific block ideas for the little girls - TA can't make up her mind which type of quilt she wants. I have about 4 ideas for her.

On a whim, I made a heart garland from felt and a ribbon for the windows in our front hallway for a Valentine's Day decoration. Felt doesn't require the iron.

I started working on my embroidered map quilt at the beginning of April. It's slow going and this is going to take me a LONG time but there's no rush. It's just for Adam and me, for sappy nostalgia. And yes. Yes, I am adding pink French knots to represent the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin.

The garden went in the last weekend in April. It's a lot less than we normally do, but it's all we can manage this year. We're not trying to feed our family for 6 months with it - it's just a delicious supplement. So we're not worried about the quantity of plants we put in or the harvest we get.

TA helped me put in the dahlias and canna lilies

And all of this has been in between Adam's job, homeschooling, dance classes, a ridiculous number of doctor appointments (2 kids in weekly therapy and dental stuff, plus everyone recently got checkups all on top of each other), regular chores around the house, church assignments, and just ... life.

25 May 2017

They Match!

One day last week Cupcake declared it was going to be "Love Day."  She talked about it all day, and got all her stuffed animals lined up and ready for the celebration.  There were going to be games and songs and food.  In reality it was just another Friday, but I did make some pink cupcakes because nothing says Love Day like pink cupcakes.  And new pink dresses.

Even though I had a million other things to do, when I came across this soft pink floral cotton fabric in my stash I was inspired, and found myself cutting out a simple peasant dress.  I didn't fight it because: 
  1. Peasant dresses are fast and easy.  I've made several before. 
  2. She isn't quite 5 and already well into a size 8.  Everything is getting small.
  3. We're flying for summer vacation so we need dresses that pack flat.
  4. There's a floral link-up party on Project: Run & Play this month! 

But why make one when I can make TWO??  I had just enough fabric to make a tiny peasant dress for Snowflake (the skirt is pieced, and a bit shorter than I would like).  Their first matching outfits!   

I up-sized the free 0-3 month pattern I found on Sew Much Ado to something closer to 3-6 month.  And I tried the scalloped edging trick I found there.  Subtle, but super cute.  And now I want to buy all the rick-rack and do this on everything!  Sometimes it's the little things that really make a project special.

 For a spur of the moment weekend sewing project, I'm quite happy and so are my girls.  I see lots of coordinating outfits in the future, more rick-rack (I had no idea I could use it like that!), and plenty of pink cupcakes.  Happy Love Day!

07 April 2017

Candy Kaleidoscope

After making the free pleated square tunic from Shwin & Shwin three times (from a pillowcase, a sheet, and as a dress) I figured it was time to buy the full pattern - the McKenzie Tunic (although Cupcake is now in the largest size!).  And when I won this amazing fabric from a giveaway on Kwiltz by Stephanie I knew I wanted to make another.  Thankfully I had exactly enough.  

The print reminded me of something that Fancy Nancy would wear, so why not go over the top and add lots of trim?  Two-toned pink around the arms, royal purple between fabrics, and blue rickrack along the edges. I've got quite a lot of ribbon, I really should use it more often!

04 April 2017

Red Riding Hood

For book group this month we were asked to bring a book that makes us happy.  We all love reading (obviously, since we are in a book club) but what other things do we love?  I immediately decided to read a sewing book.  As I usually do for our assigned books, I headed to the library, and while perusing the shelves I came across: Oliver + S Little Things to Sew.  I knew I couldn't go wrong with that since we are fans of O+S around here!

It wasn't exactly a "reading" book, but I enjoyed looking at all the projects and picturing how I would make them.  After much debate I settled on making the Red Riding Hood Cape as part of my "show and tell" about the book.  The book will come home with me again another time so I can make mittens, juggling balls, or the cozy winter hat.  I would even make more capes - a smaller one for Snowflake's future dress-up box, or it would make a great gift.

The red fabric came from my Mom - I got a ton, Trina got a ton.  After making my first pair of pants, and Little Bo Peep's skirt I had just enough left for the cape.  The lining is the same butterfly fabric from my Glass Petal top.  And an adorable teapot button to finish it off.

Sewing it probably took less time than tracing off the pattern and cutting out the fabric.  The directions didn't include top-stitching, but I would definitely recommend it.  It fits fabulously and looks adorable.  I forsee hours of fun and pretending ahead!

22 February 2017

Welcome Snowflake

Welcome Snowflake!

Not much sewing has been going on for the past month, for a very good reason.  One little baby girl was born a surprising four weeks early and has changed our lives.  For being so early she has had very few health concerns, but she eats frequently and quite slowly.  She's a fairly content baby, so the rest of the time she sleeps, but I had forgotten how time-consuming having a newborn is.  It doesn't help that I'm up multiple times during the night so I'm constantly running low on energy.  

Cupcake is thrilled to be a big sister!  She frequently asks to hold the baby, and talks to her in a high squeaky voice.  I've had to work hard to be patient with her though, as she has become more demanding for my attention and acts out a bit - not horribly so, but I'm already tired and stressed so it just feels worse than it is.  It has been an adjustment, definitely, but so worth it.

My creative time has been cut back significantly, but I've made an effort to do at least a little bit each day though, even if it is for only 15 minutes.  I have three baby dresses that I started right after Christmas, and they are still unfinished.  (It didn't help that I tried to add piping to one of them, twice, and will just need to move on without it.)  Cupcake also needs a new dress, there are patterns I still want to try out, a rag quilt to make, and more inspiration than I have time for!  I must make project priorities and make full use of those precious 15 minutes each day.

Looking forward to making clothes just for you, sweet Snowflake!

10 January 2017

2016 sewing review, 2017 plan

1. Quilts. I finished two. The first was a quilt top that Adam's mom made and I found when we were cleaning out her house after her funeral. I did some repair work to the top, then quilted and bound it. It's now on TA's bed. The second was my first start-to-finish rail fence quilt titled The Pink Babies. The phrase of the Pink Babies goes clear back to when SM was a newborn, and this quilt is PINK! I love it - it's so bright and happy.

2. UFOs! UnFinished Objects. I got all but one item on the list, which is a 2-layered fleece blanket. What I DID finish was
- Adam's pajama pants
- a blue Fairy Tale dress (pattern from Oliver+S) that was a "draft" for RG's baptism dress that was taking too long
- the Pink Babies quilt
- the Grandma C heritage quilt
- a denim messenger bag
- edging a fleece blanket for JK's bed since she moved up to a twin last February

3. Curtains for the girls' bedrooms. Nope. The fabric has been sitting here literally since the day we moved into the house and I've just never done it.

4. Alphabet Challenge. I wanted to do at least 4 letters. I got 6 - H, I, J, K, L, M. Yay! The list is on the Challenge page - no need to repeat it all here. And N is started.

Other things I sewed in 2016:
- three rope baskets
- I started cutting 2.5 inch squares for a postage stamp quilt. I sewed 3 blocks together and need to redo one of them because it's all wonky. Still learning.
- I started cutting some purple/cream/green fabric I was given for another potential quilt. Didn't get very far with it.
- the doll basket from Made Everyday for JK's birthday gift
- a bunch of mini pillows from scrap fleece for camping and travel
- felt bags for Easter egg hunts (same as the trick or treat bags I made a few years ago, except in spring colors with Easter egg decorations)
- an Artemis dress for SM's mythology birthday party - Playtime dress pattern from O+S. It's my go-to pattern for a lot of things.
- about 10 pairs of shorts in June for the girls. It was a mix of daytime and pajamas shorts, depending on the fabric. Pajamas are made from flannel. One of the shorts even got a top with it!
- a couple of t-shirt dresses and skirts for the girls
- more felt trick or treat bags as a craft project for TA's birthday party
- a last minute Colonial coat for a fife and drum corps as part of the Hartford Temple Cultural Celebration. That was a crazy couple of days - I was asked to make it 5 days before the performance.
- 3 white handkerchiefs for the Hartford Temple dedication. I made SM and RG handkerchiefs from scraps from their baptism dresses. Mine was from scraps from their baptism dresses, the other girls' baby blessing dresses, and a square from my wedding. Very significant and meaningful.
- I redid the stitching on the edge of SM's baby blanket.
- 2 tote bags for Christmas gifts - Mom and Tawnia.
- 2 fleece baby blankets for new nieces.

And for fun, I used up 9 spools of thread.

Considering I did that truckload of lanyards and togas in July ... this list covers a lot of territory! I'm happy with it!

2017 PLAN
We're doing a major home project in the first half of the year - remodeling our kitchen. We're hosting a family reunion here (yes, at our house) for what will end up being most of the month of July with lots of people in and out at various times, so we have a June 1 deadline to get everything ready. I also want to repaint a lot. An expansion of our back deck is on the list, but may or may not happen.

I don't really have a sewing list for this year - I'm just taking things as they come. I've actually started on the bedroom curtains for the girls - whoa! Shocker! - and will get them done before doing anything else.

SM and RG want their quilts by their birthdays in May and October. I started cutting SM's fabric during a family movie night, and did some designing on graph paper.

JE has decided that she hates dresses and skirts (yes, she is my clone) and is complaining A LOT about getting dressed for church. So I told her I'll make her a split skirt - it's actually pants but it looks like a skirt. Aren't we sneaky! TA says she wants a pair too. O+S to the rescue!

08 January 2017

new recipes 2016

After completing my first 100 new recipes in 2015, I wasn't planning on doing another 100.  But I enjoy finding and trying new recipes so I kept track of things this year.  Early pregnancy sickness made a few months very unproductive in the kitchen, so I'm ending the year with 82 new recipes.  Instead of focusing so much on Pinterest and online recipes, I used a lot of our cookbooks - Jamie Oliver, Michael Smith, Rob Rainford, and a LOT from various Company's Coming books (especially Mostly Muffins and Mexican Made Easy).

I'm not going to share the whole list, because over a quarter of them came from non-online sources, and some of the others were not things I'd particularly want to make again.  So here are some of the highlights of my 2016 cooking adventures!  (All of which will be added to the recipe directory at the top of the page.)

Greek Yogurt Pizza Crust - two ingredients. My new go-to for pizza crust.
Avocado Lime Ice Cream
Apple Fritter Rings
Roasted Sweet Potatoes - a favorite way to enjoy sweet potatoes.
Hot Lime Avocado - I use our toaster oven and chipotle hot sauce.
Macaroni Cups
Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies - I made a gluten free version. Can also be carrot.
Beef and Broccoli Stir-fry
Tortillas - a little time consuming, so half batches for our small family.
Meatball Sliders - we've made this multiple times now.
Pork Pineapple Skewers
Spaghetti Carbonara
One Pot Taco Pasta
Pigs in a Blanket - Daddy's specialty.
Mini Lasagna Cups
Fried Rice
Crab Apple Sauce - many many batches of this are in our freezer.
Peach Blackberry Crisp - faster to make than the pie we used to do.
Zucchini Breadsticks - I was surprised by how yummy these were!
Cake Batter Truffles
Banana Coconut Muffins - really really yummy without being too sweet.
Spinach Souffle
Pumpkin Pie Granola - my own recipe!
Lasagna Roll-Ups - a great meal for the freezer and I can defrost smaller portions.
Pumpkin Souffle - YUM. Like crustless pumpkin pie.
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins - one of the best pumpkin muffin recipes I've tried.
Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

Pumpkin Pie Granola

I am one of those people that jumps on the "pumpkin spice" band-wagon each fall.  It smells amazing and tastes delicious.  I ended up making five new pumpkin recipes in 2016.  It doesn't help that I buy big cans of pumpkin so I have to make multiple items to use up the whole can.

One of my favorite new recipes was my own creation of Pumpkin Pie Granola, which was inspired by this recipe.  The biggest thing I learned was NOT to stir the granola to make it all clustery and extra amazing.  It was a granola revelation.  I will use this method for all granola-making in the future because it just makes better granola.  So on with the recipe ....

In a small saucepan on medium-low heat, stir together the following for five minutes:
  1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  1/2 cup honey
  3 tablespoons oil

Take off the heat and add:
  2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large bowl stir together:
  3 cups old fashioned oats
  1 1/2 cups bran cereal
  1 cup shredded coconut
  1 cup slivered almonds
  1/4 cup ground flax seed
  2 tablespoons chia seeds

Pour pumpkin mixture over it and stir until combined.
Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.
DO NOT STIR until it has cooled, and then store in an air-tight container.

30 December 2016


It has taken me a looooong time to do this, mostly because I kept setting it aside to work on other projects ... but IT'S DONE! This is my first quilt that I've done EVERYTHING on! All the piecing, the borders, the quilting, and the binding.

I've heard the pattern called hobo rails or rail fence. It's sets of 3 strips alternating directions. I quilted it diagonally across the squares and it completely changed the look of the whole thing. I'm totally excited about it - I actually made a whole twin-sized quilt!

When I first finished the top ... a year ago ... I've worked on a lot of other things since then before getting back to it.

DONE! With giggly helpers not quite holding it up the way I'd like ... but oh well.

JE wrapped up in her new quilt - warm and cozy for winter!

29 December 2016

M is for Mommy Made It

For Christmas a couple of years ago, Adam had Mindy design me a little logo label for the clothes I make for the girls, which says "Mommy Made It." Apparently, he was asking one of the girls about her outfit one day, and the response was, "Mommy made it."

This fall/winter, SM needed a new church dress anyway and she wanted one with long sleeves. I told her to go through my patterns and she chose the Book Report Dress from Oliver + S. She wanted it to be red and gold for Christmas but something that she could wear all winter and we landed on this at Hobby Lobby.

There are a number of smaller details like pleats, cuffs, and pockets along the waist that blend in to the whole look because I made it in one fabric, rather than using different fabrics for the various pieces. This is a size 10, lengthened by about 5 inches. Probably should have made a 12 - I think she's only going to get one season to wear this.