Monday, July 30, 2012

Some Recent Hits

So, my original title for this post was going to be Recipe Dump, but that really doesn't sound too appealing, does it? 

I have had the best of intentions about sharing some of these recipes in real posts of their own, you know, with pictures and everything, linking up to Tuesdays at the Table, but that hasn't happened, has it? I'm sure the 5 commas in that last sentence is some kind of grammatical nightmare but I don't care. So in simplified form, here are some recipes we've enjoyed lately, with minimal commentary...

 Crockpot Beef and Broccoli over Brown Rice: I actually used minute steak instead of the boneless chuck roast the recipe calls for, mostly because we seem to have a lot of it in the freezer and I'm always looking for ways to use it. I'm pleased to say it turned out great. And you can't beat Alton Brown's technique for brown rice. Perfect every time!

Easiest Homemade Caramel Sauce: I was making Debbie's Toffee Crunch Poke Cake for a cookout when I realized I didn't have nearly as much caramel sauce as I thought, so Google to the rescue! This recipe is dangerously easy!

Creamy Lime Cilantro Ranch Dressing: I use this recipe instead of the ranch dressing packet, and the first time I made the dressing I forgot to add the green salsa and really couldn't tell a huge difference. Everyone loved it! 

Blueberry Cobbler: Do you ever read recipe reviews where someone says, "I followed the recipe exactly, except..." and lists off about 15 changes? I hate that, especially when they give it a negative review. So I'm here to tell you that I really didn't follow this recipe, but I'm sure it's a good one. I used a mixture of blueberries and cherries, left out the lemon since I didn't have any, and used oil and soy milk to make it dairy-free so Max could eat it. 

Chinese Coleslaw: Another great recipe from Brown-Eyed Baker. I can eat way too much of this salad!

Noodle Head's Chipper Bars: Anna is a sewing genius and apparently she knows her way around the kitchen, too. She posted this recipe a few years ago and I've used it many times. Most often when my husband tells me at 2:00 that he needs a dessert to take to work at 5:00. Very easy and delicious! 

So there you go. I actually had a few more to add, but it looks like my blogging time is over for the day. I finished my Christmas Sparkle pillow, so hopefully I'll have some pictures for you tomorrow! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Day So Far

My husband's odd work schedule completely screws up my perception of what day it is. He just had two days off, so I woke up today quite confident that I was going to have a great Monday morning, full of patience for my children and getting all kinds of stuff checked off my to-do list. In fact, I was so enthusiastic about it that I actually got up around 5:00 when Rog was getting ready for work and started some hand quilting on a pillow...

While I was stitching away, enjoying the quiet that only comes when kids are sleeping, I started reading a few blogs and after about the third WIP Wednesday post did it sink in that today was in fact not Monday. I'm not going to lie, my enthusiasm waned just a little. If it was already Wednesday I really didn't need to start my week off with a bang. And yes, that is a Sparkle Punch pillow you see. I decided to scale back my efforts a bit in light of the rapidly approaching birth of child #4...and a lack of enthusiasm for making this into a full-blown quilt. 

I did spend some time in the kitchen getting a few things made to stock the freezer. 
Carson has been requesting pumpkin muffins lately, so I made a double batch of those. Actually, they are more like half pumpkin and half butternut squash, but he didn't care. As long as he gets to stir and sample the goods he's happy. 

Then I decided that since the oven was already hot I might as well go ahead and make some bread, so I tried a new recipe for English Muffin Bread and may have underestimated how warm it was in my kitchen. That dough got crazy, y'all! 
I don't think I left it to rise for much more than 30 minutes, while the kids and I folded and put away laundry, but I got quite the little surprise when I returned! Nevertheless, I have 3 loaves for the freezer and one for us to eat today.

And have you noticed the Instagram photos? I joined the high-tech age a few days ago and am trying to figure out the whole Instagram game. I don't really get it yet, but my plans for the afternoon involve a couch, a glass of something cold to drink, and some QT with my new phone.

How many of you are on Instagram? I need to start finding my friends so I can get into it a little more. I'm hoosiertoni on there, so look me up!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What Was I Thinking??

So the other day, the kids' nap time rolled around and I was trying to decide what to do. I mean, I have a huge list of things that need to be done, but none of those sounded fun so I sat down for a minute to browse around on Pinterest, looking for something to sew. I'm not even sure what I saw, but I decided that I needed to start a Christmas quilt. Right now.  Maybe it's all these Christmas in July things going around lately, or the fact that when December rolls around I always regret my lack of holiday decor. Whatever it was, I somehow could not let another day go by without starting a Christmas quilt. You know, because I have nothing else going on in my life right now...

And just what pattern did I choose? Elizabeth Hartman's Sparkle Punch. I love that pattern, but couldn't I have gone with a simple patchwork? Of large squares? Seriously, there are like 800 something 3.5" squares to cut. And did I mention cutting is my least favorite aspect of this fine art? I was all gung-ho about this thing yesterday but today I'm not so sure. I've cut about 75% of the prints for the stars and still have all the background to cut. 

Should I keep going? I had pretty much talked myself out of continuing, but then I looked back at the original Sparkle Punch quilt and I like it so much that I hate giving up on it. It would be an excellent Christmas quilt. But having another unfinished project laying around is not what I need right now, either. I think I'm going to go browse around a little and see if I can come up with another less time-consuming pattern to make. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Other than a quick trip to Cincinnati last week, the majority of my time lately has been spent either at the sewing machine or cleaning/purging/organizing our house. A three hour trip to Ikea will do that to you... Nesting much?

I'm sure you don't care too much about the organizing details, so let's get to the sewing.  I've made curtains for a bathroom and the boys' room, but they're not too exciting so no pictures. But isn't sewing curtains really satisfying?  Not much effort involved but it makes a room look so much more put together when they finally get hung. Speaking of curtains, I got these for our bedroom and I love them. I promise they look much better in person and they look great with the new greyish color of our walls. Though I'm going to have to make a new quilt for our bed now...Anyone with fabric/pattern suggestions?

Before we left I decided I needed a new bag. I keep trying to use my 241 tote as a diaper bag and cramming way too much into it, so a bigger bag was in order. Since I already knew the Go Anywhere bag was a quick one to make that's what I chose.
I used three Denyse Schmidt prints and Essex linen. I really like the main print, but wish I had made the handles with something other than the Essex. It just needs a little more color. Maybe I need to attempt a couple of those fabric flower tutorials I keep seeing...

I also made another Jane Market bag, this one for myself. I didn't use any interfacing and I really like it since I can just roll it up and throw it in my other bag. I actually used it yesterday at Sam's and was surprised how much stuff I got in there.

Of course I had to do some baby sewing, too. I used the free Basic Newborn Pants pattern from Made by Rae and added a cuff at the bottom. Super quick to sew up and pretty darn cute, too! I'm steadily checking things off my list to sew for the baby, now I just need to get on that crib skirt. They're so easy I really don't know why I keep putting it off. I've had the fabric for about two months now.

And finally, while in Ohio I made a little trip up to Fabric Shack (nicest people ever!) and had a great time picking out this stack for a twin-sized quilt for Max now that he's in a real bed. I want it to coordinate with Wyatt's and Carson's but not really match.

So there you go. Today has been pretty much the same...assembling furniture and throwing out crap we don't need.

 Oh, and turning a bunch of these into sauce...

Friday, July 6, 2012

If I Weren't Pregnant...

I'm pretty sure I would have drank an entire bottle of wine after finishing these blocks. Even if it was 10:00 AM...

This month for our Do Good Stitches circle we are using Lynne's ET Phone Home template to make two of these paper pieced blocks in red, blues, and grey. 84 pieces of hell. 

Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it literally took all day to make one of these suckers. Don't look too closely at the center of that second block, either. It looks awful, but since the rings themselves match up okay the ugliness stays. It has already been taken apart at least four times. Making each of the eight sections really wasn't that bad and started to go quickly, but it is the joining of pairs into halves and halves into the whole block that was frustrating. The first block I did went together fairly easily, but not the second. The good news? I'm done! Honestly, I really like how this block looks and wouldn't hesitate to make another, but it may be a while...

Thankfully my other July bee blocks were simple...

"Floating Frames" for Kristina in Always Bee Learning

and "Binary" for Debbie in the Modern Blocks Bee.

And now that my "Have-To" sewing for the month is done, I can get back to my "Want-To" list. First up, making the backing for this quilt top I made the other day for Baby Girl:

And one final thing...
The other day after lunch Max decided he was tired, so he just went in and laid right on top of Roger, who was already taking a nap on the couch. He is the only one of the kids that will voluntarily sleep when they are tired! And yes, my kid is still in pajamas at lunch time. Don't judge.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I Really Have Been Sewing...

I've actually been doing quite a bit of sewing the last few days. Remember those baby shower gifts I made? Well, I knew I would be seeing my friend Sunday so I decided to get her gifts wrapped up and ready. My only problem was a lack of wrapping supplies. No gift bags, no wrapping paper, no boxes. So what was I to do? I didn't want to just toss her a generic plastic grocery bag full of handmade goodies. Of course I decided to just make her a bag! One can never have too many bags, and I've been wanting to try the Jane Market bag that everyone and their sister seems to have made, so I got to work...

Super cute and quick to put together, I already have fabrics set aside for another for myself. I used Decor Bond to interface the exterior fabrics and some lightweight interfacing for the pocket. I also lengthened the straps to 28" instead of the 20 or 21 the pattern called for. Does the center panel annoy you? I hate that the print on the panel and the pocket are going different directions, but didn't notice it until I was assembling the bag. And of course I didn't have enough of the print to cut them again. Oh well, my friend loved it and didn't seem to even notice. 

Of course I had to do a bit of sewing for Baby Girl, too...

Burp cloths made with random fabrics. For some reason I didn't want to cut into my "good" fabrics that I got for her, especially since they'll just be getting barfed on, so she just gets whatever I found. 

Let's imagine these squares of fabric are crib sheets, ok? Because they are now, but taking pictures of sheets is no fun so instead you just get to pretend. I used this tutorial, mostly because I did not want to have elastic around the entire sheet, just on the ends. There are plenty of other tutorials out there for either style if you are interested. For some reason I find it really satisfying to make my own crib sheets, even if they end up being more expensive than what you can buy at the store. 

And since I had done quite a bit of practical sewing, I decided it was time for something fun.
A baby circle skirt, using this tutorial from Made. Why yes, I do use a lot of her tutorials, don't I? 
The only thing I changed was to do a rolled hem at the bottom using my serger instead of turning the fabric under and hemming. I just could not get it to look neat that way, so I played around with my serger a bit and ended up with this. I'm not really sure if this is right, but it looks good enough for me. And if someone is looking at the skirt hem instead of the adorable baby wearing it, they've got issues.