Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Delicious Granola

This granola recipe is the one that my mom made for us while we were growing up.  I love it and I love the fact that it is pretty healthy, with no refined sugar and lots of grains. 

Delicious Granola

Spread 4 cups rolled oats on ungreased sheet cake pan and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
Stir in:
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped (any nut will do.  I used a combination of almonds and peanuts in this batch, but I have also used cashews)
3/4 cup wheat germ
Then add:
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup oil (try to use something that is heart healthy, but light in flavor)
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix until dry ingredients are well coated.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, stirring occassionally to brown evenly.
Stir in: 1 cup dried fruit (I used dried cranberries, but any type of dried fruit will work nicely.)
Store in an airtight container.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cream of Chicken Soup Mix

One of my friends pinned this recipe and it has been on my list of projects for awhile.  This week I finally mixed up a batch and gave it a try.  Not bad.  I think it is a keeper.

Cream of Chicken Soup Mix
Adapted slighly from 1 orange giraffe.

1 cup non-fat dried milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
scant 1/4 cup chicken bouillon (if you have cubes you have to smash them up)
4 Tablespoons freeze dried minced onions
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon pepper

(For the equivalent of one can of condensed cream soup, mix 1/3 cup dry mix with 1 1/4 cup water. Cook until thick)

This batch doesn't make much, so if you like it, you will have to adjust all these amounts to make this stuff in bulk.

I made a little label with the instructions on how to use the mix and then taped it to the front of my container.  We tried some of this in a Pasta dish and enjoyed it.  It is so nice when these things work out. :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Zig Zag Quilt for son #1

One of the projects on my 100 project list is to make a quilt for my oldest son's baptism this summer.  When I asked him what colors he would like in a quilt, he told me "red, blue, green, orange, and yellow."  Hmmmm.  That could be tough.  I finally decided a zig zag quilt would be the perfect solution for making all these colors work together.  This week, I finally started the process and got my squares cut out.  Since cutting, for me, is the worst part of quiltmaking, I feel pretty good.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easy Cheese Danish

My husband had his birthday recently.  Every year he requests these for breakfast.  They are not healthy in the least, but they are delicious, and so I figure a little splurge on his birthday is ok.

Here is the recipe, adapted slightly from The Barefoot Contessa.

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. sugar

  • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature

  • 1 Tbsp. ricotta cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Zest of one lemon

  • 2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted

  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
    Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined.
    Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.
    Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm. (My husband actually likes them best at room temperature with a little powdered sugar glaze.)

    Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

    Friday, April 13, 2012

    Make two toddler duvets out of one twin or full duvet

    When I made my little toddler beds, I decided that I had to have a couple of duvets to go on them.  I think duvets are such a great option for kids bedding.  With a good cover, you don't have to mess with top (flat) sheets and you can just fluff them up in the morning, lay them out over the bed and you are good to go.  No endless smoothing and pulling.  When it is time to wash bedding, just pull off the cover and throw it in with the sheets and pillowcases.  I love it. It makes life sooo much easier for me.

    Now, I only had one problem.  Toddler duvets are pretty much non-existent unless you want to pay a small fortune for them.  But, I got thinking, I have a perfectly good full-sized duvet sitting in plastic out in the garage.  I don't have a full-sized bed in my house, so why not use that duvet to make two toddler duvets for my kids new beds.

    Now to the hard part.  This duvet is an actual down filled comforter - a real mess if you start cutting it up, so this is how I handled it.

    First, I measured the length and width of my little bed frames.  I added  12 inches to the width and 6 inches to the length. (I wanted six inches overhang on each side and the bottom. If I did this again, I would have added closer to 9 inches in length, since I think the duvets ended up being just a little on the short side.)  I laid out my duvet on the floor, smoothed it out, and measured and marked lines right on my duvet showing the exact outline I wanted for each smaller duvet.  I measured from the top and sides of the duvet - this way I would only have to stitch and cut one side and the bottom (Clear as mud?  I really should have taken pictures. Sorry!!)

    (Here's a rotten picture of one of my lines.)

    Now, for the hardest part.  Go to your sewing maching and try your best to push as much of the down filling away from the lines.  Stitch 1/4 inch away from the lines on each side of the line.  Make sure that the fabric is smooth on both sides and you are not catching any fabric on the underside (Trust me - - this can cause a real mess when it is time to start cutting.) 

    Now that you have stitching on each side of all the lines, it is time to cut.  Carefully cut down the lines you have drawn, between the two stitching lines.  You will have a bit of down fly out, but if you have sewn correctly and not caught any fabric in a weird way, then there should be minimal mess.

    Now you should have two unfinished edges.  I just zig zagged down each of them and called it good. After all, these are going inside a cover.  But, if you want a nice finished look, you could easily sew bias tape around the edges.

    The finished comforters.  You can see a little down escaped onto the carpet.  But not bad for cutting up a duvet like that.

    For the covers, I just purchased some inexpensive white bedsheets, cut them to size and then sewed around them, leaving about a 24 inch opening at the bottom.  I then added snaps to the opening to keep it closed, but allowing for easy removal on laundry days.

    Thursday, April 12, 2012

    Easter Ties

    This year, I wanted to make some new ties for my boys to wear to church on Easter.  Yes, I sewed four matching little ties and then appliqued a tie onto a onesie for my baby.  My boys love them and I got lots of compliments at church.

    Sewing a tie is surprisingly easy.  I used this pattern and I highly recommend it. (No, they are not paying me to say that - I bought this pattern months ago and have used it a few times now with great results.)  I did make a couple of changes.  I didn't cut the fabric on the bias, and I did not use interfacing.  I was able to get all five ties out of one yard of fabric and one yard of lining fabric, with leftovers.  They look great and I think the weight and feel to them is perfect, even without the interfacing.

    I used this tutorial and template from Crap I've Made for the appliqued tie onesie.  It was easy, and I think it looks really cute!

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Two Toddler Beds

    About a month ago I decided that it was time that my baby be moved out of my room.  The only problem with this is we live in a three bedroom home.  The other two bedrooms were already filled with boys.  For me, it never works to have a baby in a room with older siblings. So, in order to get the baby into a room of his own, meant that all four of his older brothers would need to share a room for awhile.  We already have bunk beds in that room for my two older boys, but I felt the room was too small for another set of bunk beds, so my initial inclination was to buy a trundle bed for the other two boys.  When I got pricing them, I discovered that by the time I bought the bed, trundle, mattresses and bedding, we were way, way, way out of my price range.  My next thought was maybe we should buy a couple of toddler beds, after all my boys are only 4 and 2, so they could fit into the toddler beds for awhile and then of course when my four year old outgrew his, my baby would be big enough to use it.  I also knew that crib sized matresses and bedding are much cheaper than twin sized.  Well, as I got looking at toddler beds, I found that everything I liked was way out of my price range, and even the cheap little toddler beds were on the expensive side when you multiply everything by two.  Then by some miracle, I ran onto this tutorial at Design Mom on how to build two toddler beds for $75.  I thought they were adorable and knew this was my answer.

     My husband helped me build these.  It took about an hour one afternoon to build the frames and then about an hour on another afternoon to upholster them.  I think they turned out great and my kids (all of them) love them!!!  They actually cost a little under $100 to build both of them (and that was using some items we already had on hand), but that was still a fraction of what I would have paid, had I purchased two little beds.  The only change we made to her instructions was to add some lumber down the middle of the bed to reinforce it.  I have actually sat on these beds and my older boys have laid on them without any problems, so they are pretty sturdy little things.  I made a couple of duvets and duvet covers for them, which I will post about another time.  I need to make some cute pillows for them and then we will be all set.  All in all, I am completely happy with this project.

    This is the reinforcement that we added to the beds.  Just a 2x2 piece of wood down the center of each.

    So cute!!

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    Easter Grass 2012

    Last year my boys and I started a tradition of planting Easter Grass. Two weeks ago, we planted our grass for this year.

    It is really simple.  All you do is put potting soil in your desired containers, sprinkle in some grass seed and rake lightly, then water.  Keep the soil and seed moist, not wet, for the next week.

    This is what our grass looked like one week after planting.  Once your grass gets to this point, you only need to give it a little water every other day.

    This is what it looked like on Easter morning, 13 days after planting.  My boys love watching their grass sprout and grow.  I love having a fresh, green, spring centerpiece for my table.  It is a win-win!

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    Under the Sink Revamp

    Cleaning out under my sink has been on my 100 project list for awhile.  It seems like it has been becoming more and more disorganized ever since I had my baby, and it finally got bad enough that I started avoiding it.  I decided this week that it needed to get crossed off the list, so I got to work.

    Here is my before picture. I am totally embarrassed to post this, but it is what it is. Oh well.

    After I got everything pulled out, and wiped up, I wondered why I had avoided it all so long, since it literally took less than ten minutes.  I think part of the reason is because I knew there was some water damage there and I didn't want to really deal with that yet.  I had done a little research and found that a lot of home improvement experts and plumbers suggest putting in peel and stick tiles under your sink, to cover the existing damage and to prevent further damage, so I decided today was the day.

    I found a box of 25 peel and stick tiles for $12.00 at one of the little stores in my little town.  I only needed six for under my sink, but I decided I had some other projects that I could use the tiles for - they definitely will not go to waste.  They went in really easily and doesn't it look sooo much better?

    I got rid of a few things under the sink that I never use and then used a couple of bins I had on hand to containerize the rest of the stuff.  It looks much better and I honestly sleep better knowing that everything is finally clean and organized under that sink (Crazy! I know.)

    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    Gum in the Pocket?!?!

    The last two days I have posted about some simple fixes for little boys jeans.  Today, I am posting my final fix.

    A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that one of my boys had put some gum in his pocket (already chewed, of course.)  The jeans had already been patched and were not worth the time it would take to remove the gum from the pocket to salvage them.  However, they were still good pants for playing and camping, so I decided the pocket was expendable.

    This is what I did:

    First, pull out the pocket.

     Second, cut the gum-riddled pocket lining out.

    Finally, I did not want him to put anything important to him in his pocket and then realize too late that it no longer had a lining, so I topstitched it closed.  I started just under the top rivet and stitched just below the bottom yellow stitching line of the pocket, all the way to the seam.  The only thing you have to make sure of, is that everything is smooth and looks normal before you stitch the pocket closed.

    This was super simple and only took a couple of minutes, but will extend the life of these jeans by a few months, at least.  In fact, it was so easy, that if I ever discover some gum in a pair of good pants, I might do the same with them.

    Just a note - - I have a spool of denim colored thread that I use for all of my repairs and patches on my jeans.  I find it does a pretty good job (not always perfect) of blending with almost all of the jeans I work on, whether they are dark or really faded.

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    Simple Cut-Offs Tutorial

    Yesterday, I posted about how I patch jeans and extend their life a little longer. Sometimes though, I don't get to them soon enough and they are way too far gone to be patched. My son has a pair like this, and since summer is coming, I decided to cut them off into shorts. Now, I could try to hem them nicely, but they will just be shorts for him to play around the yard in this summer, so it is not worth my time. However, I don't like how cut offs that are not hemmed fray endlessly either. So, this is my fast and easy solution.

    See these jeans? Way too far gone for a patch job.

    Simply cut them off above the rips, making sure that both sides are the same length. Sometimes, if my son is around while I am doing this, I will have him try them on just to be sure, but this isn't really necessary. Save the bottom part of the legs for future patch jobs. (Or my mother-in-law says you can make a cute skirt for an American Girl doll out of them.)

    Now, slide the pant leg onto the arm of your machine and stitch along the edge all the way around the leg. (a very small seam allowance - I usually just line the edge of the fabric up with the inside of my presser foot.)

    I have been doing this for a few years now, and I have noticed that after the first wash or two, you will need to trim a few threads, but after that you will have a nice, clean, tiny frayed edge that is only apparent on close inspection. These make great little shorts for the boys to play in all summer.

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Patching Jeans Tutorial

    Boys go through jeans quickly.  With 5 little boys and a limited budget, we cannot possibly afford to replace jeans as quickly as my boys can go through them.  I have had to face the fact, that in order to extend the life of the jeans in my house, I have to do a fair amount of patching.  I have done a few fun patch jobs on nicer jeans like this. . .

    My boys actually love these patches and are still happy to wear these jeans to school.  I used this tutorial from make it and love it for these patches.  But, as cute as they are, they take a long time, and sometimes I just don't have it, or I am only trying to salvage them as pants to play in, so they aren't worth it.  Fortunately, my patching method, while not nearly as cute or fun, is really fast and easy.

    Here's what I do:

    Trim the threads around the hole.

     (something like this)

    Now cut a piece of denim slightly larger than the hole on all sides.  (I have an old pair of my husbands jeans that was unsalvageable that I use for this scrap denim.)

    Turn the pant leg inside out and pin the scrap piece over the opening, making sure that everything is lying smooth and flat.  Just use a couple of pins, as you will be removing them in just a minute.

    Carefully turn the leg right side out again and pin the pant leg to the scrap piece of denim.  Make sure you only pin through the front of the pant leg and the scrap, not the back of the leg.

    Remove the pins that you initially pinned inside the leg.

    Take your jeans to the machine.  Slide the leg over the arm of the machine and stitch in small zig zag pattern over the area, starting and ending with a backstitch.  Make sure you start and end well before the hole begins and ends for added strength.  Now, when I say zig zag pattern, what I mean is, you use a straight stich on your machine, but you will stitch forward all the way across and then backstick all the way back on slight diagonals, resulting in a zig zag pattern across the patch as pictured.

     Finally, turn the pant leg inside out one last time and trim the denim scrap down, so there is nothing to flap and irritate little knees.  Just make sure that you don't trim too close to the stitching.

    One last thing - - If I can get to the holes while they are still little, it usually requires a lot less pinning and stitching.  I also don't bother trimming off the threads if they are still attached at both sides like on the jeans pictured above.  I just stitch right over them and I think this results in a more cool, distressed look.  Sometimes, my boys are even happy to wear jeans that have been patched this way to school.  Distressed is in!  Yes!!!

    This method really is fast and easy once you get the hang of it.  I was able to repair all of these jeans in less than an hour.

    Monday, April 2, 2012

    A Simple Fringed Tablecloth Tutorial

    My boys have been pretty hard on my table.  They have colored on it, pounded on it, scratched it, etc. etc. etc.  Since it is not in the budget to replace it, I have considered refinishing it or painting it many times, but then I look at my littlest boys and realize that they are going to have to learn the same lessons about how to treat furniture that my older ones did.  So, the table stays in its present condition for at least a few more years.

    To hide the worst of this poor table's battle scars, I try to keep it covered with a tablecloth most of the time.  I ran onto this fabric and decided that it would make a cute spring tablecloth.  It is a cotton duck decorator fabric that is 54"wide.  I like the width because my table measures 40" x 60" (without the leaf), so with a 54" fabric, it would not require a seam to make it wide enough to cover the table.  I decided on a fringed tablecloth because the fibers in the fabric are quite substantial and the weave is loose enough that I knew it would not be too difficult to fringe.

    To make a similar tablecloth to fit a 40" x 60" table you will need the following:
    • 2 1/4 yds 54" fabric (be a bit careful when using decorator fabric, because a lot of it is not washable).  Try to pick a fabric with larger fibers and a somewhat loose weave.  I actually used 2 yards but I wish I had just a few more inches on both ends.
    • Coordinating thread
    Now, on to the method:

    First, square up the edge of your fabric.  It is easiest if you have a cutting mat, ruler, and rotary cutter, but if not, use a washable medium to draw a straight line from fold to selvage edge and use your scissors.  It is really most important that you make sure that it is square at both corners. so that your tablecloth will end up as a perfect rectangle.

    Second, cut off the selvages.

    Now, take it to your sewing machine that has been threaded with a coordinating thread and stitch all the way around the edge of the tablecloth.  I used a one inch seam allowance, but you can use larger, or smaller, depending on the look you would like.

    Next, the fun part.  Turn on your favorite TV show or some good music.  Sit down and start pulling threads.  Begin at the edges with the outermost threads. I found that the selvage edges fringed pretty easily, while the others gave me a little more trouble.  Keep pulling the the threads until you reach the stitching line.  When a thread breaks before you are able to pull it out (I say when, not if, because it will happen) just find it again and finish pulling to the edge.

    When you are done, you will have a nice big pile of threads!!

    Finally give your tablecloth a good ironing, put it on your table, and enjoy!

    Easy enough!!
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