Saturday, December 31, 2011

Knittin' it up!

I've been on a knitting kick lately.  Between Christmas presents and friends having babies, I've found plenty of reasons to knit hats.  Here's a few:

My Mom's Christmas present:  The yarn was a great bamboo/silk blend by Ella Rae.  The pattern came from Marnie Maclean Designs. It was fun to knit. I think next time I'll make the smaller size though.

Orange Crush: A cute, funky yarn that varies between thin and threadlike to soft and fluffy.

The Scarlett Hat and Emily Hat:  Made for two adorable little girls.  I made myself learn to crochet the flowers. The hats are made from different soft merino wool yarns.  The Emily hat has two flowers (kind of hard to see, my camera sucks!)
Emily Hat

Scarlett Hat
And that's about it!  What have you been knitting lately?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cozy Feet

The other day on Pinterest I saw a cute "Free" pattern for Cozy Toes slippers.  Like many of the people who clicked on the link, I was disappointed to find out that while pattern was free, the directions weren't. In order to get the directions you had to buy a SewNews Magazine.  LAME!

I decided to try to piece the pattern together and whip up the slippers for a Christmas gift. I took a few short cuts :) They turned out pretty cute (although I've decided I need to work on my serging skills).

Fabric- I found some cute double sided fabric at Wally-world. It was fake sheep shearling on one side and a pink leopard almost-suede feeling on the other side. I got 1/2 a yard, which was way more than necessary- I think I used about 1/4 of a yard of it.

Notions: thread, rick rack, Wooly nylon for the serger.

-Download and print off the pattern from SewNews

-Cut the pattern bigger than what you wear.  One commenter said she cut a '7' for a size 5.  I cut out the 11 for a size 9 foot.  Fit the patter to your foot before you cut out the fabric!

- I wanted to add a rick-rack tie so the wearer could adjust the fit a little more. To make the holes I used my button hole foot and made two button holes about 1/2" apart.  I placed two of these every 2 inches.  The holes at the heel are 1 and 1/4" from the edge (when you sew the ends together the holes should be about 2" apart).  Place the holes on the top of the slipper about 2"- adjust for preference.

-Sew the two sides together at each end (1/4" seam allowance).

- Pin and sew the sides to the sole of the slipper. I pinned the fabric pattern sides together so that when I was done sewing the seam was on the inside of the slipper.

-Using wooly nylon for a round edge, serge the edge of the top. 

-Baste the top to the toe part of the slipper.

- Starting at the heel part of the slipper, serge around the entire perimeter of the slipper.

-Remove basting thread

-Weave rick-rack through holes and tie in bow over top of slipper.

Viola!  Cozy Feet!  I hope my brother-in-law's girlfriend likes them. The sides are a bit flimsy, so if you don't use double sided fabric, you might try putting interfacing in between the two layers.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rash Decision #981: Always check the cushion cracks

Joe Student finished up his assignment and closed his book. He look around at his classmates struggling to finish their assignment. He shook his head in disgust. It's not like it was a difficult assignment. Hell, he didn't even read the entire act and was still able to answer the questions.  What to do? What to do?  He spotted the newest addition to the reading corner: a low slung, red and black vinyl confection of a chair complete with a forest green foot stool. Perfect for slouching down in and doing nothing. 

As Joe settled himself in he felt his pen slip out of his pocket. Reaching down into the crack between the cushion and the arm he found his pen and brushed his fingers against something slick.  Hmm... what do we have here?  An old receipt... some candy wrappers....another receipt for gas....

"Mrs. B?  Where'd you get this chair?"

She looked up from her correcting.  "Oh, I bought it a garage sale. My neighbor was moving and I talked her down to $2 for both the chair and the ottoman. Is it comfortable?"

Joe laughed. "Yeah, it's comfortable, but there's a ton of stuff shoved down in the crack.  Look, I just pulled out an old airplane ticket."

"I guess I should have checked it before I brought it to school," replied Mrs.B. "I think it was in my neighbor's daughter's room. She didn't want to take it to college with her."

Joe student continued fishing around in the crack for other "goodies."  By now, a couple of his friends had turned around in their seats to see what Joe would pull out next.

Joe stuck his hand down in the corner. His finger found a hole along the seam. If he could just wiggle a few fingers in, he could reach into the inside of the chair. Who knows what he would find? Maybe he'd get lucky and find a dollar or something. He was a little thirsty and could use a Gatorade from the vending machine. His fingers brushed up against something that definitely wasn't the smooth vinyl or soft, worn cotton of the chair. It was soft-ish,  a little scratchy, and ...stretchy?  He wiggled his fingers and was able to hook one of his fingers into a loop of the material. Slowly he pulled whatever it was out.

"Aaagh! Gross!"

The entire class whipped their heads around. "What?" " What is it?" " What'd you find?"  Joe's friends roared with laughter.  Mrs. B. came running over. There on the floor, pooled in the spot it landed in after Joe's quick launch, was an old crumpled pair of black lace panties.

Moral of the story: Unless you want this to be the story your students will always remember about you, CHECK USED FURNITURE FOR UNDERWEAR!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What a week and then some

In the last week  and half I have:
1. Clogged the pump on my washing machine (oversized pillows DO NOT do well in top-load washers!) The repairman was very nice about it and reminded me to only fill my washer 2/3rds full, even if I do have two kids and a messy husband.
2. Replaced the hardrive in my laptop (good-bye 3 years of pictures, resumes, lesson plans, etc).
3. Spent the weekend at The Gorge Ampitheater (in George, WA) listening/watching awesome bands at the Dave Matthews Band caravan tour. THANK YOU to my sister who went with me and gave me the tickets for my 30th birthday present!
4. Become the proud owner of a serger! My grandma doesn't sew clothing anymore so she passed along her old serger. I need to take it to the shop before I can use it. Can't remember what Grandma said was wrong because all I could hear was "you can have my serger!"
5.Sent off my children to school. Today, Day2 for them, J's teacher called because he couldn't keep his hands to himself and was rolling/wrestling with another boy on the carpet. Sigh... I never had any of these problems with E last year. Good thing I warned his teacher that he was nothing like his sister.

And that's about it. I think I'm ready for summer vacation again.

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day Weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Put a smile on your face

This last year has been chock full of struggles for me. This coming year doesn't look so good either. I think one thing I like about blogging is that you can choose to hide your struggles if you want, or at least focus on the good things in your life.

When my paternal grandma was dying of cancer she still always asked how you were doing and would pray for you. It inspired me that she was able to look past her own issues and focus on someone else. I try to emulate her as much as I can. Along with this idea, I also have been making myself count my blessings. These are the things that put a smile on my face.

Here are some of the recent "Smile Makers" from my summer. Enjoy!

The beach and a daughter not being sassy!
Nothing sweeter than blackberries you just picked!

Love Love Love the water

Friends all around

The sunset from my mom's farm

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Simple Skirt from "Made"

Somehow, in between my crazy family trips. I managed to whip up another article of clothing for E.

Actually, this skirt (made from more of the .90 fabric I picked up months ago) was a breeze to make. It took me about 30 minutes, including distractions from the kids and husband. I followed the tutorial on MADE.  It was so easy. MADE is a great blog. The tutorials are simple and easy to follow. Her pictures are great.

The only bad part? I REALLY want a new camera and a serger. Oh, and my own labels to put on things I make.

Vacation: subjecting small children to "quality" time in the car

Ahh... To be able to finally sit down and blog. After my relatively laid-back June and July, August was a three year-old hyped up from eating a bag of jelly beans and a pilfered soda. No, really, it was that crazy.

The highlights of my August so far:

After another weekend trip to my mom's to visit with family from out of town, the kids and I headed to the far northwestern part of Washington to visit with more family! We went with my mom (a teacher married to a farmer-she's always game for a impromptu vacation) and took a little stop in Leavenworth, WA. Leavenworth, or "Elevenworth" as E called it, is this great little town in the Cascades that is all Bavarian themed. 
E and J with their candy from the Sweet Shoppe in Leavenworth.
After Leavenworth, we headed to Lynden, WA. We visited the Northwest Washington Fair. J's favorite were the horses and the tractors. E liked the cotton candy and the horses.
One of the best parts of the fair was seeing the new calf that had been born earlier that morning.

From the fair we drove over to Birch Bay. The tide was really low and E and the other kids had a blast wading out and trying to dig for clams.
From Birch Bay, the caravan of cars headed north to Semiahmoo, where we drove out on the spit and enjoyed eating fresh blackberries from the bushes that lined the parking lot.

We had a great time playing on the different sides of the spit- one was rocky, one was sandy. We ended our day at the Peace Arch  at the US/Canadian Border. It was very pretty. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries after I took my first picture. Wish you could have been there!

On our way home after everything was said and done, my mom thought a nice break from the 8 hour drive would be a tube float down the Wenatchee River. So we stopped at Leavenworth (it really is a great place!) and floated down the river for an hour and a half. No pictures of that fun jaunt either.

When the kids and I finally made it back to our house, E requested that we not drive ANYWHERE for at least a week.

So two days later I made them drive an hour to my work so I could start getting my classroom ready for the first day of school!

Monday, August 8, 2011

On the Farm

We went to my mom's this weekend. J and E love going to visit Grandma and Grandpa, especially during harvest. My step-dad is a wheat farmer and, after this weekend, there may be a strong chance that J might want to follow in his footsteps.

Grandpa started harvesting the day after we got there. After his ride on the combine, J excitedly told me that he was going to work with Grandpa tomorrow. I'm not exactly sure if Grandpa knew that but this is what happened the next morning:

Watching the men get the trucks ready for the day
J couldn't wait for breakfast. Grandma was kind enough to bring it to him. E wasn't quite sure what the rush was all about. After the trucks the kids and Grandpa decided to give Gunnar the horse a little morning snack.
Grandpa gets side-tracked. 
Gunnar was anxious for his carrots!
After feeding the horse, J set off with the men for the fields. A little before lunch Grandpa radio-ed in to the house to let us know that J was getting a little restless.

Somebody was NOT pleased that he was done "working" on the combine.  But he got over it when I told him we would be back later that week.

 Along with helping out on the farm E and J also had a blast playing with my sister's and my old toys.

In case you were wondering, the above pictures are documentation of "Mr. Tom" and his cat "Rose."  Mr. Tom is a snake hunter and was recently bitten by a rattle snake. But Rose ran and got help, so he lived. The rag in his hand is his precious "Snug" (aka best friend since birth. There is always drama when we can't find Snug).

I'm thrilled that J is exploring different career options. Farmer and Snake hunter are way better than his previous choice. 

Last year he wanted to be an ELEPHANT.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

J turns 5 and wants a "snake cake"

Today was J's 5th birthday. I can't believe my little man is getting so big!

Every year I try to indulge my children by letting them pick out their own cake. This year J wanted a snake. "Ok, I can do that. Do you want a striped snake? A green snake?" I asked. 

Nope, nothing as simple as that.  J wanted a BLUE snake!

So here it is: the Blue Snake Cake:
I used one bunt pan and a loaf pan. I cut the bunt cake in half and placed each opposite sides end to end. I then cut the loaf sized cake into a diamond-y shape. I used the leftover corner pieces and one reserved end of the loaf for the tail. I then frosted the cake (in homemade butter cream frosting- YUM!) and decorated it. The stripes are made from dyed sugar. The tongue is a fruit roll-up and the eyes are jelly beans.
It's not  my best frosting/decorating job- I realized that I only had a 1/2 hour until the party and had to frost rather quickly-but J loved his cake.

E and J sneak a few licks of frosting after the party!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Running: Take 3

I love my Brooks!
I went for a run this morning and it felt GOOD! Weird, I know. I am definitely not a runner by nature. I tried to get into last summer and did it every few days for about 2 months. That seems to be my normal attention span for working out. Turbo Jam, yoga, running, walking.... I do really well for the first two months but then usually get frustrated with the lack of results.

This spring I decided, again, to start running. Or jogging/moving as I referred to it. Slowly, week by week I knocked off a few seconds, then minutes off of my mile time. I felt good. And while I wasn't loosing weight (that darn muscle mass!), I could tell that I was in way better shape. 

Then I ran a 10k at the beginning of May and suffered a horrible shin splint. Yup, a shin splint. I didn't listen to my friend who was a track coach  and tried to run too far too soon. I tried a couple of more times in May but I soon fell back into my rut of meaning to work out, but not ever actually doing it. At least I lasted 3 months this time!

So here I am again, trying to get back into the swing of things. We'll see how I fare these next two months :) Luckily for me I have all of these friends who irritate inspire me with their utlra cute bods and fitness-y ways. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 15, 2011

E's new outfit

Apparently I am on a sewing kick. I found this fabric on sale (.90 for 2 yards) and created this top. E had a pair of jeans that had holes in the knees so I decided to turn them into a pair of cutoffs with a cute fabric cuff. As usual, I didn't follow a pattern, but I did sketch it out and write down what I did as I sewed. 

 Here's what I did:

*Measurement based off E, who wears about a size 7 or 8. Her chest measures 26 inches around. Seam allowances are generally 1/4" (sometimes 1/2 depending on my lack of paying attention).

Bodice: 13" x 45"
2 Straps: 3" x 8"
Bottom panel: 4" x 45" (if you don't like panel, cut the bodice panel to 15")
 Cuffs for shorts: 2 pieces 4" x 11 1/2".  Measure the openings of the legs after cutting off the bottom of the pants. I cut about a 1/2" above the holes in the knees).

Turn top edge of piece under 1/4" twice (to form a finished edge) and topstitch. 

Change bobbin to one with elastic thread for shirring. I learned how to shirr from Sandi Henderson's tutorial via Sew Like My Mom.
Measure 1/2" down from topstich. Shir across the length of the bodice. Back stitch a few times at the beginning and end. After the first row I move my needle to the left, then use the edge of my presser foot as a guide for the remaining 9 rows. This leaves about a 1/4" space between each row. Blast with steam once you are done to help the elastic thread shrink up (I've been having some issues with my iron and its steam function! Hopefully yours works better than mine). Tie ends of elastic thread together.
Fold in half, right sides together and sew along raw edge. 

Fold 3" x 15" in half lengthwise, right sides together. Sew along raw edges to for a tube. Turn right side out. Press so that seam is to one side (or in the middle which is what I usually do). 

Find middle of shirt.Measure out 2" from middle on each side. Pin straps in place ( I actually did this by having E try on her top and then pinning them into place).  Top-stitch each strap in place along your first row of shirring.

Later I noticed that the top ruffle was falling away oddly from the straps so I went back and top-stitched along the top seam. It looked much better. 

For placement of the straps in the back I had E try on the top once again. After crossing the straps I pinned them in place and top-stitched them (after E had taken off the top- 'cause that would have really sucked for her if she hadn't taken it off).

Bottom Panel:
Fold in half width wise and sew raw edges together to form a circle. Fold the top edge down to meet the bottom edge so that you have a 2" tube of fabric, right side out. Press .
Pin to raw edge of bodice, right sides together. Press seam allowance upwards. Turn right side out and top-stitch close to seam.

Cut off a pair of jeans. I cut just above the holes in the knees. Set aside. Fold the 4" x 11 1/2" strips in half width wise and sew raw edges together. Press seams open. Fold top edge down to meet the bottom edge, just like you did with the bottom panel of the shirt. Pin the right sides of the jeans and fabric loops together and sew around the edge (This is a huge pain. I was almost tempted to hand stitch the darn things after I did the first leg).  Press seam allowance upward. Turn right side out. Top-stitch close to the seam. Repeat with the other leg.  These cuffs can be folded up to hide the top-stitch or left down.
This outfit didn't really take that long to make. In fact, the longest part was the pant legs. But that was mainly due to E and J wanting to sew also. I spent a lot of time threading needles and showing them how to make a basic stitch. 

Please disregard the mess in the background- I chose to sew last night instead of doing the dishes :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chicken and Rice Enchiladas

Enchiladas before being baked
 Chicken Enchiladas ~ serves a lot, as I almost doubled the original recipe so I could bring dinner to one of my friend who just had baby #4!

- 4 to 6 chicken breasts                - 14-16 tortillas
- 1 can corn                                 - 1 large can enchilada sauce
- 1 can black beans                      -  1 cup (or more)  shredded cheese
- 2 cups salsa                                    cheddar or monteray jack
- 1 cup uncooked rice

1. Option 1:  Place chicken in a deep skillet. Cover with salsa. Add a little water if needed to entirely cover the chicken. Place lid on skillet. Poach chicken over medium heat until chicken can easily be shredded.
1. Option 2: In the morning throw frozen chicken breasts into a crock pot (this time I used a combination of breasts and thighs). Cover with salsa. Add about 1/2 cup water.  Cook in crock pot 6-8 hours on low.
2. Prepare rice according to instructions on bag/box.
3. Shred chicken in large bowl (make sure to remove any bones/cartilage if you didn't use boneless). Add some of the salsa liquid.

4. Combine cooked rice, corn, and beans with the chicken. Mix well.

5. Warm up tortillas in microwave for 15 seconds.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
6.  Spoon about a cup of the chicken rice mixture into the middle of the tortilla.  Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons over the mixture. 
7. Roll tortillas up. Place in baking dish, with the seam of the enchilada facing down.
8. Continue until all tortillas and/or chicken mixture has been used.
9. Cover with remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle cheese over enchiladas.
10. Bake for 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.

Ok, so I still need to work on my plate presentation! But they tasted great!
Garnish with a dollop of sour cream.  I quickly realized that I accidentally grabbed a can of spicy enchilada sauce- oops! The sour cream was very helpful for cutting the heat.  E loved it, J still thought it was too spicy.

I found a recipe online from a brand-name rice company and decided to tweak it a little. I think the next time I make it I will add some of the cheese to the chicken mixture. We like things cheesy!