Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Advent Quilt

My sister really enjoys piecing quilts. She has inspired me over the last couple of years to pick up the hobby as well, and I must admit it is quite addicting. Last year, she made a cute Christmas quilt. I decided that I would like to make a Christmas quilt for my family this year. I could just picture my boys snuggling up on the family room couch under a cute holiday quilt. Then, I ran onto this pattern for an advent calendar quilt, with pockets pieced right into the quilt. I knew I wanted to make it this year. I armed myself with a Ready, Set, Snow charm pack by Moda and some yardage and got to work way back in August.

This was actually a fairly easy quilt to put together. The worst part was appliqueing the numbers on the pockets. If you are good at applique it would probably be a snap, but it took me FOREVER. While I was in the middle of it, I told my sister that I wished I had just stenciled them on with some good fabric paint, or cut the numbers out of felt and used a fabric glue to apply them. Now that it is done, however, I am really glad that I took the time to applique the numbers. I love them!!

It is nice to have something substantial to hang on the wall during the Christmas season. My boys will love getting their surprises out of the pockets every day. Maybe next year I will make that dream Christmas quilt for them to snuggle up under on the couch.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Paver Pumpkins

Last summer I ran onto this idea for paver pumpkins at Night Owl Crafting.  I thought this would be a great idea for a fall decoration for my front porch.  Super easy, super cheap, and super cute.  I picked up the pavers and the floral wire for just a few dollars, I used acrylic paint that I already had on hand and then I finished them off with a coat of mod podge to give them a little shine.  My boys love them too - a little too much.  I have re-curled that floral wire at least twice already, and I'm sure I will have to do it a few more times before these are put away.

Friday, October 7, 2011

No Sew Christmas Tree Skirt

 Every year I have planned to make a cute pieced Christmas Tree Skirt out of cute Christmas fabric.  Every year, the Christmas season comes and goes without me accomplishing my plan, so we just end up with this ugly glittery thing that looks like a piece of batting wrapped around the base of our tree.  This year, I was determined to make a Christmas tree skirt, but decided I had better get real.  With everything else I have going on there is no way I would have time to piece the skirt of my dreams together until after the holiday season is long gone.  So, when I ran onto this tutorial on how to make a no sew Christmas tree skirt I was elated.  This was definitely something I could accomplish.  I made a few changes to her instructions, like doing an embroidery stitch with my machine around the edges of the skirt and sewing on ribbon closures rather than using stick-on velcro (so, I guess my skirt isn't completely no-sew).  I am so happy with how my cute christmas tree skirt turned out and I am especially happy that it is done with two months to spare!  So, If you are interested in a cute, easy, and fast handmade Christmas tree skirt, I highly suggest you check out the tutorial at modern kiddo.

The embroidery detail on the scalloped edges. 

The ribbon closures

Monday, October 3, 2011

Nativity Blocks

I have been working on projects for our women's craft night at church.  We started advertising last Sunday and this project was a real hit. (I will be posting about the other projects soon.)
These cute nativity blocks are made from a 2x4 that has been cut and trimmed to the right sizes for our pieces.  I then painted the front of the blocks an off white and oiled (with mineral oil) the sides and back to bring out the wood grain. Next, I sanded the edges lightly to soften any ragged paint and added the images.  I printed these images out on sticker paper and then gave them a coating of sealer, after they were applied to the blocks, to prevent smudging.  They turned out so cute and I love the fact that they are kid friendly.  My boys already love them and can't resist playing with them whenever they are out.  I purchased the images as a downloadable file folder game from Green Jello with Carrots and Melanie was so great to work with.  She has agreed to give us a really good deal on our downloads for the ladies.  So, I highly recommend her company and their cute products.

Here are some close ups of the cute blocks!!!!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Foaming Hand Soap

I have heard that you can make foaming hand soap, that works just well as the expensive stuff you buy at the store, for just pennies.  I decided to give it a try when I ran out of my bottle of the "expensive stuff".  I am always on the lookout for a bargain, so this was definitely worth a try. 

All it takes is giving your foaming hand soap bottle a good cleaning and then pumping a few tablespoons of liquid hand soap into the bottle.  I was told that the clear types work better than the creamy, lotiony types.  Then, fill the bottle with regular old water and gently shake to incorporate the soap and water together.  That's it and it seems to work just as well.

This is a picture of the foaming soap that my pump produced after I mixed up my new hand soap.  Not bad.   

Friday, September 30, 2011

Harvest Time

My husband grows a great garden.  It is something he really enjoys and I enjoy having a summer full of fresh organic produce.  I also love having a bunch of leftover produce to put up for the winter.  This summer we have kept busy freezing snow peas, green beans, and corn.  We also just recently put up a few batches of tomatoes.  I use these in all sorts of recipes and I am hoping to be able to put up a few more batches before it gets too cold and the tomatoes stop producing.  If you are afraid of canning, because you think it is too difficult or takes too much time, you should definitely start with tomatoes.  Using the cold pack method, it goes very quickly and is easy to do.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Zucchini Cake

Okay, I realize that zucchini season is coming to a close, but during the height of it, I tried this zucchini cake recipe. It was really good and if you are a fan of carrot cake, I am pretty sure you will like it. Plus, it is another way to use all that zucchini.

Zucchini Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded zucchini
2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350. Grease bottom and sides of 13 x 9 pan or two 8 or 9 inch pans. Flour lightly.
Beat all ingredients except flour and zucchini in a large bowl. Add flour and stir just until combined. Stir in zucchini. Pour into prepared pan(s). Bake rectangle for 40 to 45 minutes or rounds 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost with cream cheese frosting. Store in the refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter
2 to 3 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
Beat cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla until smooth.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth and spreadable.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cookies & Milk Invitations

We had a girls night RS activity at church last month. Basically, this is a mother/daughter activity, but since I have all sons, I am a little sensitive to calling it that, since you really don't have to bring a daughter to attend, and we were hoping that all our sisters would feel welcome whether they had a daughter to bring or not. It was a fun night with a few rounds of Bingo and prizes and then homemade cookies and milk. It was a fun night and I think all the ladies and girls had a good time. I wanted to share these cute invitations I made. I would not recommend doing them on such a large scale, they took forever, but for a smaller party, they are cute and fun. I downloaded this template from Belle's printables, (it's free!) assembled the cartons, wrapped them in red paper, added the party info, and then filled them with cookie crisp. The boxes were then secured shut with a ribbon. Everyone seemed to think they were really cute and that I was really crazy for making so many. I have to say that I agree with them.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Oahu Gingersnaps

These cookies are delicious.  Slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside with just the right amount of spices and molasses.  I think these are the most perfect gingersnaps I have ever found.  I got this recipe from my cousin.  I have adapted it slightly because I never use shortening and don't have it in my house.  The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup shortening.  First I tried to just replace the shortening with butter.  The results were awful.  The cookies were greasy and flat.  Nothing like the crispy, chewy, slightly puffy little cookies my cousin had always made.  The next time, I just tried omitting the shortening, but that resulted in hard, crumbly, dry mounds.  Yuck!  I finally tried replacing the shortening with 1/4 cup canola oil.  Jackpot!!!  They were once again the perfect little gingersnaps I remembered.  Here is my version of this recipe.

Oahu Gingersnaps

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg beaten
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour

Cream together all ingredients except the flour.  Add flour and mix until well incorporated.  Cover and chill dough.  Roll into balls and then roll them in sugar.  Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Baby Quilt

 I made this sweet little baby quilt for my new little boy.  I think it is such a cute, simple pattern and perfect for a baby boy.  I was so excited when I found it, because it seems that there are TONS of cute patterns for baby girls, but not much for baby boys.  I found the pattern here.  It was a simple quilt to piece.  It used just one jelly roll (with leftovers) and some solid yardage.  I am so happy with how it turned out.
This is the back.  Also pieced with strips from the jelly roll.  So cute!!

P.S.  The fabric I used is Lily and Will II by Moda

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Divinity Cookies

These little meringue cookies are easy to make.  The have a lightly crispy exterior, with a chewy, chocolatey interior.  We love them at our house, but, let me warn you, a sweet tooth is required to enjoy these.

Divinity Cookies

2 egg whites
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
3/4 C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 6 oz. pkg. chocolate chips
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)

Beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  With mixer still running slowly add the sugar and beat until stiff.  Fold in vanilla, chocolate chips, and nuts.  Drop by rounded teaspoon (I use my cookie scoop) on wax paper covered cookie sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes at 300 degrees. Makes 2 dozen cookies. 
*Unfortunately, this recipe does not work out well if doubled.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Baby Car Seat Cover

I made this car seat cover using the tutorial over at Cluck Cluck Sew.  I made a few modifications to allow me to work with fabric I had on hand.  It was a simple project and I am so glad to have something to keep my new little guy covered while we are out and about.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Strawberry Sorbet

This is one of our favorite summer treats.  When strawberries are in season and on sale, we always try to make this yummy sorbet at least a couple of times.  It tastes just like sweet fresh frozen strawberries! 

Strawberry Sorbet

1 C water
1 C sugar
1/4 C light corn syrup
1 quart strawberries
4 T lemon juice

In a medium saucepan make a simple syrup of the sugar and water.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Clean the strawberries and remove the stems.  Place them in a blender and add the lemon juice.  Puree completely.  Press through strainer to remove most of the seeds.  Add the simple syrup and corn syrup and stir well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.  Freeze in ice cream freezer as directed. 

We love this right out of the ice cream maker at soft serve consistency and also after it has firmed up in the freezer.  

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Quilt for Me

Since I have all boys, it has been hard for me to give myself permission to have anything too girly around the house.  It always made me a little sad when I saw these cute, feminine fabric lines come out and I felt that since my house was so full of boys, I needed to stay away.  Finally last year, I told myself to stop being ridiculous and just make a few quilts for me.  This was the first one I pieced - just simple squares.  There are a few mistakes (I am still learning) but I love the fabrics and I love how fresh and happy it looks.  The quilt top has been pieced for a long time, but I finally got around to quilting and binding it.  This was my first experience with straight line quilting and I LOVE how it turned out.

I included this picture because you can see the quilting quite a bit better.  I am so happy with how this quilt turned out and now it is sitting in my family room.  It makes me smile every time I look at it, and I wonder why I didn't let myself do something like this sooner.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Baby, Baby, Baby

 With our fifth baby boy making an appearance soon, I have been pretty busy with making baby stuff.  When I had my fourth boy I did not plan on having any more kids, so I gave pretty much everything away.  This resulted in the necessity of making new baby stuff for this little guy.  I have had a lot of fun with these cute little things though.  The picture above is of a little quilt I pieced a long time ago.  I finally decided to finish it up to use as a play mat for the baby.  My husband thinks it is a pretty crazy quilt, and I guess I agree, but I still like it.

 Since this baby is coming in the summer, I decided that I didn't want double sided flannel receiving blankets.  I feel they are just too heavy in the heat of the summer, but I still like to cover my baby up with something when he is napping.  I made these single sided receiving blankets and just bound them with binding that I made from fabric I had on hand.

 This blanket is a little larger.  It is flannel on one side and soft minky on the other.  I think it will be perfect when the weather starts to cool down.

 This cute little crunchy tag toy was made from scraps I had on hand.  I got the idea from one of my favorite blogs, A Feathered Nest.  You can find her tutorial here.  I made a few changes to fit my preferences, but the method is the same.

 The back of the tag toy.  Some soft flannel and minky, to keep the textures interesting.

 I thought this diaper holder and changing pad was one of the best ideas I have seen in a long time and I had to have one for this baby.  I found the idea and tutorial at another one of my favorite blogs, Cluck, Cluck, Sew.  You can find it here.

 Such a great idea.  How many times have I wished for something like this when changing my baby someplace other than home.  Love it!!

 I ran onto a bunch of old white onesies that I had used for my other boys.  Luckily, I had not trashed these yet, but they were looking a little worse for wear.  Since all of my other tiny baby clothes had been relegated to the trash or other homes, I decided to dye these old stained onesies and give them simple appliques.  Now these old onesies have a new life and my new baby will have a few things to wear.

More recycled onesies.

I am so excited for this new little one to come and start using all of these cute things - but he can't come yet.  I still have plenty of other things I still need to make for him, and I have some definite cleaning and rearranging to do in my house before he comes.   So for now.  I will just enjoy looking at them and keep plugging away at my "to do" list.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Laundry for the boys

My oldest two boys used to have a dresser in their room.  It drove me crazy, because the clothes were always a scrambled mess and I wondered why I even bothered folding them before putting them in there.  We finally decided to just get rid of it, and I came up with a new system.  I must say, I love this system and it has worked very well for us for over a year now.  Basically, I bought a cheap bookcase and some durable plastic bins.  Now, on laundry days, I have the boys remove the bins from the bookshelves and set them on the table.  As I am folding laundry, I place it in the bins and when the laundry is finished, they return them to the bookshelves where they belong.  The laundry usually stays folded.  The bookcase and bins look neat and orderly in their closet, and best of all, the boys are responsible for putting their own clean laundry away.  Gotta love that!!!
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