Sunday, July 29, 2007

Super Secret Birthday Project

Before I get to the cause of all my hair-pulling details of my latest project, here is a neat quick little something I put together the other night. I don't remember where I saw it, but I think it was on another blog. They are bottle cap pincushions, using pop caps as the base.
I did made one extra, so if somebody out there is sewing or knows a new sewer and wants it, please let me know. They were sew easy to put together {something I desperately needed after some of the more "involved" projects}. Speaking of involved projects, I got the idea to make my almost-6-year-old a princess-like ballgown for her birthday. I figured it would be something totally out of the ordinary to receive as a gift & she really doesn't need any more toys that will get only occasional play. She actually picked out the pattern which you can see here. The one I picked is the style of the lavender dress at the bottom. {Somehow I feel like I've talked about this in a previous post. If I have, sorry, we'll just blame it on the pregnancy hormones.} She loves to look at the dresses on the outside & tell me which one she would pick for herself and which one she would pick for her little sis. Little does she know......Here is my progress so far:

The right picture is a close-up of the waistline. There is a sheer sash that goes around the waist and will tie into a big bow at the back. I completed the matching bolero in the third picture long ago, but still plan to add a
rosette to the front for a little decor. Hubs took the kids to his parents today giving me the perfect opportunity to finish the task, but alas, it wasn't in the cards. I realized after wrestling like a mad-woman with 6 layers of fabric evil that I need a heavier-duty needle. Now my plan is to give the dress to her on Friday night, the evening before our family party. I was feeling really discouraged, like I undertook a project that is more advanced than my skills and is taking so much longer than my short-attention-span-personality can tolerate. After relaxing for a bit and seeing it on the hanger to take these blog photos, I am calmer and realize that I am so excited for my sweet daughter and hope she appreciates all the work that went into it. I hope she will feel like the princess that she is when she finally gets to wear it......

Thursday, July 26, 2007

For your exercising safety.....

.....I know some of you out there are runners or are training to be runners or like to exercise. Yeah. We're so not related. wink Anyways, I just wanted to tell you about something I just ordered for Hubs. It's called Road ID. They come in several different styles like Wrist ID, Ankle ID, and Shoe tags and are engraved with your information like name, city, and contact phone numbers. It will give me a little peace of mind when Hubs is cycling at 20 mph with cars whizzing by at 65 mph. There are lots of testimonials featured on the website from people who have them. You never know when an accident will happen or if anyone will be around to tell the paramedics who you are. I googled for a coupon code and saved $2. Seems like twenty bucks is a small price to pay for your {and your loved ones} peace of mind. Just thought I'd pass it along!

Dishwasher Reviews

Ok. I really need your help. My dishwasher has been broken for about 3-4 weeks now cry, so I am in the market to purchase a new one. Online reviews can be so confusing! For the same model, some people love it and say it is the best one they've ever owned and other reviewers say parts are breaking and their dishes don't even fit. If you have a dishwasher {other than a human one}, would you mind sharing what manufacturer it is made by and what you think about it? Is it quiet? Has it needed repairs? What would you want to change about it? I am thinking {after reading all these reviews} that maybe I should bring a dinner plate & my standard water glass with me to the store to make sure they fit! The one option that I've seen that I like is the cutlery rack being on the door instead of on the bottom rack, leaving more room for dishes. Does anyone else have that? It seems like EVERY brand in my price range {under $400} has mixed reviews....

....looking forward to some help!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I'm hooked!

Making bags is just too much fun. Maybe I like it so much because I really WON'T make clothes for myself, but it's a little something for me that is so practical {plus it only takes a day or less from start to finish, unlike my Super-Secret Birthday Project that I just want to shoot myself over, but I digress}. I just want to make one for every purpose. I had to empty out the first one I made {it had all my cross-stitching supplies in it} so I could take it to the library. When I was unloading my books to check-out, my mom looked incredulously at the bag and said, "How many books do you have IN THERE??" It was so funny. I felt like Mary Poppins & her magic carpet bag {ya know, where she unloads a rug and a lamp and many other things}! I checked out the book Making Handbags yesterday morning and by yesterday evening I had my fabric purchased & pattern photocopied. Here she is:

The bag itself and the appliques are felt. So easy to work with!! No fraying edges to worry about. My grey is darker than the one in the book, but it was all JoAnn's had. These are close-ups of the applique on the front & the lining, which I added, and my first magnetic closure:

I love the way the polka dot lining looks. And I can't believe how cheap all the fabric was! This bag probably only cost a few dollars to make. I have plenty of fabric left over to make several more. I think the best part will be coming up with some of my own designs to use on the front. I think a huge initial would be really neat or just a bunch of different sized circles. There were so many different colors of felt to choose from, the possibilities are endless! Now to start thinking about what to create next......

Monday, July 23, 2007

Another one

Meet tote number 2. I made this in honor of my mom's birthday. We didn't get to celebrate her actual birthday which was two weekends ago, so I made her a really nice birthday lunch {garden salad, grilled ribeye, garlic roasted green beans, sauteed mushrooms & onions, and creme brulee with fresh raspberries for dessert ~ in case you were wondering}. I spent several hours on Saturday putting this bad boy together....nothing like waiting til the last minute for inspiration to hit. The fabric is very "Mom" and this time around I added black topstitching along the bottom panel and made super-reinforcements where I attached the handles. I realized this probably isn't necessary & know what I will do different the next time. The purple fabric perfectly matches the purple centers on the flowers, which I love. I debated about using a green solid fabric, but the colors in the black pattern are a bit more BRIGHT in real life & lime green just didn't seem to suit. This time I made sure the bottom purple panels lined up when I sewed the outer side seams together. I am getting more proficient with each one I make. Number three is already cut & I am going to try to do a machine embroidered initial on the outside & a zippered pocket on the inside. I am amazed at all the little things I learn with each new project I undertake. I *so* enjoyed having my mom-in-law visit on Saturday and review all my sewing projects. She complimented & critiqued and gave me lots of new wisdom on how to make my work sturdier and more professional. She really is a true kindred spirit when it comes to all things crafty. I am good company as she enjoys many different types of crafts. I know you don't even know about blogs, but thanks Mom-in-law!!

On that note, does anyone out there like to sew? Does anyone want to learn? Just want to see if I have any IRL sewing buddies wink {figured I'd better use at least one of my new emoticons, eh?}

Now you can SEE how I feel....

I'm not sure if this works in IE or only in Firefox, but I just added an extension to my blog to use emoticons ~ you know, those little smilies with all the different emotions...

Happy biggrin

Surprised eek

Angry evil

Embarassed redface

Sad cry

There are many more, but I just picked a couple to test out. Let me know if you can see 'em!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

My First Attempt

This is my first attempt at making a tote bag. I designed the pattern myself based roughly on the finished size of a bag I already own. I have been reading up online & tried to incorporate some different techniques that I've read about here and can't help but be inspired by the bags I see here & here. Take a look see:

I purchased the fabric from a super limited selection at my local Wal-mart & only spent about $7 {with some fabric left over}. I wanted to make a limited investment in case I screwed up royally. The interior has a side pocket which is divided for a pen/pencil on the left & miscellaneous on the right:

I am really fairly happy with the way it turned out. Do you think these would make nice gifts? What about if I included one of these to match? Or I was thinking I could try to make one slightly shorter with more pockets, a magnetic closure, and a matching changing pad for a simple diaper bag. Can't wait to start on the next one!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dear Sir....

To an Unknown Capron Resident:

You could've just asked. You didn't have to come in the middle of the night & back your truck up through my front yard to steal some of the gravel I had delivered for my backyard. This gravel is for my children's play area. It was like you were stealing candy from a baby. Did you think I wouldn't notice the tire tracks you left in my grass or the coffee cup you littered onto my lawn? Was it really necessary? I would've been happy to tell you how to get some for a low cost. My husband works in the aggregate industry for gravel's sake. The least you could've done was left a note explaining your desperation & maybe a $20 bill. I hope you are happy.

Rebecca, a couple buckets short of 1/2 a ton

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sew and Sew

I've been doing a lot of sewing lately. I mean, A LOT. I have a handful of hobbies that go in rotation as far as what I am interested in for that season, but I always come back to them at some point. I guess this is the season for sewing {Sorry yarn & knitting needles}. Here is my most recent finished project:
The pattern is New Look 6556. The fabric was purchased at JoAnn's. I just love the way it turned out. I wanted it to be stylish, like something you would find in an upscale childrens' clothing store. I just made a straight size 3. As you can see on my model below, it is a little big now, but hopefully by spring it will be fitting much better:
I was super excited to be able to purchase a kit to make fabric buttons to match!That way, I could turn this...................................................into...........................................this!

Cool, eh? I think they make the coat look a little more professional ;>)

Next FO is a 4th of July-ish type dress that I made for the older Princess. She picked out the pattern, Simplicity 3902 and we labored together over choosing the fabric. I had to add the little red triangular pieces on the front since the fabric has a border at the bottom, so laying out the pattern was a little trickier & I came up a bit short. Here she is:

I think she likes how it twirls!

I am happy with how this one turned out as well. I love the colors! It has quite a few pieces which I am not used to & a zipper {double YUK}, but I am trying to improve my skills with each item I make.

The last thing I am working on is a Super Secret Birthday Project. It is so secret that I don't even have a picture of it! It is a ballgown-like dress for my sweetie's 6th birthday using Simplicity pattern 3943. It will be similar to the lavender dress on the model in the bottom photo. I picked dark pink fabrics. I was expecting all the 15 or so yards to cost me around $50, so I was tickled pink {literally} when the total was only around $25. I think it will be an exciting gift for a girl who already has too many toys & other clutter. I will try and post some in progress pictures when I can. I haven't decided whether I will give it to her on her actual birthday or the night before her party so she can wear it the next day. I guess it depends on how fast I sew!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Menu Planning Technique

I must admit that since I've been pregnant I've really gotten away from menu planning, which probably explains my somewhat chaotic dinner hour. I *love* doing my OAMC, but I just haven't had the energy or feeling of health to be able to do it. I absolutely hate staring into my freezer wondering what food items are going to cook themselves {a girl can hope, can't she?} into a tasty & creative family meal. I was reminded today about a menu planning technique, taught to me at a homeschool group meeting, that I found really ingenious. So, I will share. This will provide you with one month of menus for your family.

Step 1: Category Planning
Come up with 7 different categories of meals, one for each day of the week. {You could use a printable calendar like the ones found here to assign the categories & later for brainstorming the meals.} Categories may include: beef, chicken, pork, pasta, casserole, crock-pot, pizza, Italian, seafood, grilling or any other type of food that your family enjoys. You should also decide which day of the week will be dedicated to which category considering your family schedule. For example, if one day of the week is your errand day, that night could be crockpot night.

Step 2: Brainstorming
Write down all the possible recipes you could prepare under each category. It is best to come up with at least 3 or 4 different recipes for each category. Look through your recipe file {great to have a nice recipe binder for this} or ask your friends for ideas. Menus4moms also provides a great service of sending you a week's worth of meals with recipes and grocery lists to your inbox every week. This would be a great source of new meal ideas!

Step 3: Pick your meals!
On a monthly calendar, write the category heading at the top of each column of days. Now it's time to pick your meals. On each day, go through your brainstormed list of meals for that category & write down what you will make, adding side dishes or desserts as necessary. If you have a file of "to-try" recipes, you can throw some of those new items in the rotation as your schedule allows. {If you are really into cooking, you could always make "New Recipes" one of your meal categories!} When you plan your grocery list, simply look at the meals planned for that week to see what ingredients you need. If you brainstormed at least 4 meals for each category, you should be able to plan an entire month of menus with no repeats!! I am sure the family will appreciate your "creativity" and the fact that they are never eating the same meal more than once a month {something I'm sure my Hubs can NOT imagine at this point}!

Hope you found this somewhat helpful in your meal planning endeavors. I am feeling so motivated after writing this that I am going to start doing it! I also wanted to mention that the gal who taught this "method" has been using it for decades. A few of her grown children were present at the meeting & I got the impression that having "Every Sunday as Italian night" or "Every Friday as Pizza night" has really created some wonderful long-lasting memories that have carried over into their own families. If you have any other menu planning tips/websites/encouragement, please share with the group!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

Chocolate milk is very popular in my house. Although I despise the sugar content, it DOES get my kids to drink more milk. I was buying commercially prepared chocolate milk & calculated that it was cheaper than buying the Nesquik powder. Lately in a pinch I've been using Hershey's Chocolate Syrup mixed with white milk. When I ran out, I gave the following recipe a try!

Step 1: Unclog your Hershey's syrup bottle cap by letting it sit in a bowl of hot water while you make the syrup.

Step 2: Follow Hillbilly Housewife's chocolate syrup recipe. I made the recipe as written and it all fit into my current 24 oz. Hershey's bottle. Be careful when the syrup is boiling. This stuff bubbles up big!

Step 3: Let syrup cool. Or if you are impatient like me, let it cool just a little......

Step 4: Using a funnel, pour the syrup into your bottle. Recap.

Step 5: Use to make chocolate milk, pour over ice cream or in your favorite chocolatey desserts. Or for those of you having an anniversary........Voila!

Friday, July 06, 2007

A "REAL" Poll

I was just testing this poll feature to see if it actually works. I think it's kinda cool!