Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Turkey anyone?

With the {somewhat} onset of Fall, I have been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving. {Well, actually I've been planning for more than a month now, but I don't want you to think I'm TOO crazy.} It is one of my favorite holidays, since I love cooking & entertaining. Over the years I have developed some tried and true recipes for certain dishes, that I now refuse to do without. I won't even bother trying a new pumpkin pie recipe since I love the one I have so much. This year I won't be able to hostess because I will be waaaaaayyy too pregnant. I learned my lesson with baby #2 by hosting Thanksgiving while pregnant & that was for only 5 people total. So my {covert} plan will be to freeze a bunch of ingredients & side dishes ahead of time so that I can {casually} offer to bring those items for the big day. We are celebrating at my grandma's house, so when I tell her that I already have all the ingredients prepared, how can she refuse? Here are the dishes I really need to have to make my Thanksgiving "complete":

Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Zinfandel ~ I have been making this for about 5-6 years now. I tastes awesome on a {leftover} turkey sandwich too. I'm thinking this will actually freeze quite nicely already prepared. I will split this into two batches so that I can save some for Christmastime.

Slow Cooker Stuffing ~ My recipe is loosely based off of this one. I like to add Bob Evan's sage sausage and raisins too. I think I can freeze all the ingredients, including the bread cubes, then just toss it all in the crockpot on the big day. Maybe I will make extra to have for Christmastime as well.

Thanksgiving Day Pumpkin Pie ~ I'm not sure how I can make this ahead, except maybe to make & freeze the crust. It comes together so quickly that I really don't have to. Here is the recipe for it from Nick Maglieri's book How to Bake:

Thanksgiving Day Pumpkin Pie

Makes 1 pie

1 9” pie crust
1 ½ c. canned pumpkin
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
2/3 c. sugar
½ t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
¼ t. ground ginger
¼ t. freshly grated nutmeg
1 ¼ c. light cream or half and half


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place crust and arrange in pan. In a large bowl, place pumpkin and whisk in the eggs and yolks. Whisk in the remaining ingredients in the order listed, whisking smooth after each addition. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Bake the pie for about 1 hour, until the crust is baked through and the filling is set. Cool the pie on a rack.

Special Notes:

Sweet dough for pies: In processor pulse 1 c. flour, 3 T. sugar, 1/4 t. baking powder, 1/8 t. salt. Pulse in 4 T. cold butter until it looks like cornmeal. Add 1 egg & pulse 10 times or so until dough comes together. Knead 3 to 4 times on lightly floured board. Chill 1 hour. Roll.

How about a few websites for Thanksgiving inspiration? I have been reading the "Thinkin' Thanksgiving" forum over at Organized Christmas. I've also found a few nice ideas here. And here is some Turkey day food inspiration at Allrecipes.

Are you making Thanksgiving plans yet? What are the foods that say "Thanksgiving" to you?

P. S. White meat rules!!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sew and Sew

Welcome to the latest edition of "Sew and Sew"! Since completing all these projects last week, my sewing has slowed down a bit. I have way too many projects that are only half completed, so this week's goal will be to knock some of those off my "to-do" list.

The Beast

I decided to make a diaper bag for a friend's baby shower. Yeah. Note to self: You better really {and I mean REALLY} love this person to take on a project of this magnitude. I recycled some fabric that started out as something else for the exterior & used some clearance fabric which I love for the lining. I *so* love the color combination. Very fall-ish. The problem arose when I tried to stitch through multiple layers of heavy fabric, batting, and interfacing while trying to turn corners, etc. I had to call my Personal Sewing Machine Repairman, a.k.a. Hubster, to my rescue. I actually messed up the innards of the machine by trying to do more than it could handle. {My sincere apologies, Ella (that's the name of my machine)!} After necessary repairs were completed, I was able to continue. I have not been able to procure more magnetic clasps from my {2} local JoAnn's stores, so I had to rip one out of a project that was in the lingering "to-do" pile. There are two bottle/sippy cup pockets on the outside & a patch pocket & zippered pocket on the inside. I altered the pattern by making two quilted side straps. After all was said & done, I got this: I am also proud of myself for making a matching wipes case holder. It will also hold two size 5 diapers. I added a grommet {my first one!} and a wrist strap for stylish carrying ability when you go to change your little one. The interior is lined & there is a contrasting exterior pocket on the back for some diaper rash ointment or lotion or whatever else mom might need. I *love* it! I will definitely be making one for myself {when I get around to actually making myself a diaper bag}.

For the Kitchen

Next up is an farmhouse style apron, which is reversible, made from Lotta Jansdotter's book, Simple Sewing: Patterns and How-To for 24 Fresh and Easy Projects . I am very happy with the fabric choices. I used the same fabrics to make a matching potholder, also from the same book.

Next time I will use two layers of batting with a layer of canvas sandwiched in between for extra heat-resistance. This potholder is only good for "quick" tasks.

I tackled my first tablerunner {more of a centerpiece actually}, sans pattern of course, and am mostly pleased with the results. I had a hard time figuring out the mitred corners of the edging, so will have to research that for next time. I was so bummed when I put the finished runner on my table, only to realize that the color of the edging blends in with the color of my table. DOH!! I used different strips of fall fabrics from the stash. {Sorry, for some reason I can't find the photos I took of this!}

For the Kidlets

Yet another tiered skirt, this time for the 2 1/2 year old. I have yet to tire of this style. It just seems so cute to me. I love that I don't need a pattern, can make it sized perfectly every time with just a little math & can just use my {new} rotary cutting set to cut out the necessary straight strips of fabric. I used some pumpkin patch flannel from the stash. {Come on, Fall!} The flannel seemed a little finicky to work with, but I made it obey.
Lastly is a bib for Jellybean:

I used a bib I already have & traced around it for a pattern. {I recycle all of my big brown grocery bags for pattern-making, by the way. Nice & sturdy!} This is more of a medium-large sized bib, so I cut out a few more smaller ones for when he is sloppily nursing or just starting solids. I love the fabric! There is a layer of terry cloth in the middle for absorption and the bib is backed with flannel. Now I'm off to finished some of those unfinished items ;>)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Not radically different....

....but just a little....pinker! I like all the slips of paper in the new header & my little pink notes that are stapled or tacked up along the sidebar. I'm lovin' the little pink bullets next to the sidebar links. I tried forever to add a background image behind the posts, but to no avail. If I don't stop fuddling now, I may never make any changes at all. Hope you like it ;>)

Monday, September 17, 2007

A New Look...

I am in the process of making a couple changes to the look of my blog, which is why I haven't posted in several days. I am so thankful for all my new {and old} readers alike and because of that I want to make this blog a happy, enjoyable place to visit. I consider my blog an extension of my home. If you were coming over for tea or lunch, I would make sure that everything is in order & not only that, but would try and add some beautiful touches, be it with food or otherwise, to make your visit more pleasurable. I want to do the same here. I will be deleting some old links or blogs I no longer visit & adding some of my new favorites. {The baby is bouncing around so much at the moment, it is actually making it difficult to focus on typing!} I hope in a day or two I can put the finishing touches on my new look. It kinda feels like getting a haircut, ya know? Thank you for continuing {or beginning} to share in life's adventures with me. Now back to the sprucing up.....

Monday, September 10, 2007

106 days

....until Christmas ya'll!! If you've been reading for awhile, you may remember that after last Christmas I planned to do a little Christmas in July celebration for myself, making some crafts, trying new Christmas recipes, etc. My how ambitious I can be when I'm not pregnant! As it turns out, I did start planning for Christmas last month though. Here are the things I accomplished:
  • Downloaded free holiday planner to add to my homekeeping notebook from Organized Christmas. The planner can be found here. I printed out the Christmas Countdown complete with weekly checklists. The thing I like about it is that I will start on October 21 and hopefully have all my baking, decorating, shopping, cleaning, etc. finished in their 6 week timeline, ending on December 1st {just in time for my December 15th due date}.
  • Updated my MS Word Holiday Planning File. I've had this file for years. It has my Christmas Card list, complete with names & addresses, Gift Ideas, and Gift Lists. I usually try to add recipes I come across or homemade gift tutorials as well so everything is all in one place.
  • Began a set of five holiday stockings for my family. They're made from my new favorite material: FELT! You can see the preview of the set in my last post.
  • Begun to think about more holiday crafts! I love these softie trees & can't wait to make a set for myself from the free pattern I got here.
  • Started holiday sewing, namely an orange fleece pullover as a Christmas gift for the hubster. After I realized I cut out the pattern wrong, I kinda lost some of my motivation. I need to buy a bit of black fleece to use as contrast along the sleeve edges & bottom. I am so excited. I hope it fits! I am hoping to make some flannel pajama pants as gifts for my niece & nephews as well & maybe some for my kiddos as stocking stuffers.
  • Started to think about possible homemade holiday gifts. Some of my ideas include: Sun Visor Organizers {for the men}, Lavender Vanilla Sheet Spray, Chocolate Lip Balm, Tote Bags, Fabric Notebook Portfolios, and Muslin Reusable Teabags {for loose-leaf tea drinkers}.
  • In anticipation of their Winter issue, I signed up for a free subscription & downloaded my first copy of Seasonal Delights. One year subscriptions are free through the month of September. This issue is Autumn, so it includes seasonal recipes, crafts, books to read and poetry.
Any Christmas thinking on your horizon? Started shopping/crafting/creating yet?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sew and Sew

Here are some of the latest sewing projects that have come across my machine, or my hands for that matter. The first item is:

It is storage for all those plastic grocery bags {or bread bags} that I accumulate and usually just stuff under the sink. You just push 'em in through the top & pull 'em out through the bottom.

NEXT! These are embroidered felt hair clips I made following this tutorial.

I loved this project because they are so fast, fun, and easy to make. Plus they are portable, so I can stick the ones I'm working on in my purse if I am going to be sitting waiting somewhere {like the doctor's office or dance class}. They are cheap too! I think they'll make great little girl stocking stuffers. I also like making them to coordinate with certain outfits. It's all about the accessories!

NEXT! Here is a corduroy skirt I made for my 6 year-old.

It also has a matching beret & matching embroidered hair clips, like the ones above, that are currently unavailable for photographing biggrin. Of course as part of my learning process, I cut out the skirt improperly so that the corduroy welts run horizontal instead of vertical, but I don't think anyone else would really notice {other than me & the keen-eyed seamstress}.

Finally, here is a little preview of an entire set of projects I have been working on.
The elfette pattern can be gotten for free here.

Hope you have had an enjoyable weekend! I got lots of sleep last night {thanks Unisom!} so I am feeling ready for a productive day. Blessings!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Stay-at-Home-Mom vs. Homemaker

QUICK! Do you consider yourself a stay-at-home-mom or a homemaker?

Quite honestly, I would have always described myself as a stay-at-home-mom. After reading this post however, I will have to change my answer to homemaker, or as I prefer, domestic engineer. I encourage you all to read the post & let me know what you think. It just reminds me that there is so much more to my job description than childcare, and really, that is only just a fraction of what my duties entail. I agreed with so many points that were made about women being reduced to just child-care workers & being expected to work once the children enter school or leave the nest. I think a lot of elements of making of a home have been lost over the years {although I'm trying to revive the sewing aspect, y'all!} and I think many of these areas can be reclaimed by those of us who consider our homes as a sanctuary and a soft place to land for our husbands, ourselves, our children and others {how's that art of hospitality?}. What are we, as the new generation of homemakers, doing to rebuild the image of "home", especially as a Christian one where that applies? We can start by referring to ourselves as homemakers or domestic engineers, as opposed to stay-at-home-moms. After all, isn't the working mom {if her priorities are in order} just as much as a homemaker as a "stay-at-home-mom"? We are all called to be homemakers and I was reminded today that it is a title I should wear proudly and should actively look for ways to reclaim areas of this art that have been lost & to encourage the next generation {or even my friends wink} to do the same. I will leave you with this quote from the post I read:
Homemaking should become a respectable occupation for a married woman once again, whether she lives in the city or in the country, whether she has 1 child or 20 or no children at all.

P.S. I only got 5 hours of broken-up sleep last night so please bear with me if I am not thinking clearly!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Party.....I mean, Potty Time

I feel like my life is in a little bit of a lull. I haven't been sleeping well, so I don't have a lot of energy for the things I used to. I am just starting a new survey for my part-part-time job, so that will be taking up more of my time. I don't have any big "first day of school" posts to share, like it seems everybody else does. Our first day of school was weeks ago & I guess, due to the nature of homeschooling, not very dramatic. No sadness. No milestone memory. No lunch to pack. No concern over whether she got a "good" teacher {LOL}. Just another day.

The only thing remotely exciting going on around here is Potty Training! I tried {although I wasn't very committed} on two other occasions to put 2 1/2 year old in underpants, but after 5 "accidents" before noon, I was done for. Last week, we had run out of diapers over the weekend {I did buy more, but didn't put them away where they usually belong}, so when Monday morning came and the little one went to get a fresh one, all that was there was a pile of ready-to-wear underpants. She brought me a pair & I just decided that it was "time". I decided that I would not leave the house until Thursday {last week} and if she didn't have "success" before then, I would just try another time. She did great! After about 2 tries on the "little potty", she refused to use it anymore & only wanted to use the "big potty" with it's Dora training seat. {What's up with this? I couldn't tell if she went or not unless I was sitting right there the whole time waiting for the tinkle. Grrr.} It took until the second day for things to click, but by the third day we were doing ALL our business on the potty. Of course we are still having accidents, but maybe only one or two a day. She also has been waking up dry after her naps & sometimes in the mornings as well. As a reward, she got a new package of Elmo underwear. I am so proud. I guess it doesn't come a bit too soon as tomorrow is the start of my third trimester. I am still in a bit of denial about being pregnant again, but that's another story!