Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I have long admired Redwork embroidery, it's just so simple and beautiful. I have been wanting to do some myself for a while now, but I have been putting it off until my right hand is free of this lame Carpal Tunnel syndrome so that I can embroider my little heart out. (I am so close to that reality.)


(pic from

So when I saw this on Whip Up, you can imagine how much fun I had poring over every single block and soaking up every gorgeous detail of each square from 'The Quilt Project'. It turned out beautifully, with each square so different, yet the simple red and white colors bringing it all together into one gorgeous piece of collective work. Seriously cool stuff.


 I have been collecting random drawings and artwork from my smaller children recently in hopes of turning their pictures into squares that I can then work into Redwork and piece into a quilt or something in that vein. I''m a long ways from being ready to really start, but I am so excited that I am on my way. I love a fun project, especially one that can go with me anywhere in the house so I can curl up on the couch and I work on it as I enjoy some of my favorite movies as I embroider. I have watched Persuasion and Pride & Prejudice at least 5 times this week alone as I have been sewing, and I'm still not tired of watching either of them yet. I need to add Sense& Sensibility to the rotation just to make sure I am fully dosed on Jane Austen before I have surgery on my hand. Do you have a favorite movie to sew or craft to?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

check her out!

Sew Mama Sew has been featuring ideas for using up your scraps all month long on their blog for their "Scrap Busters" this month. And guess what? My insanely talented, cool, and creative sister-in-law Korby had one of her super cool ideas featured.

They happened upon her post about her bookmarks, and immediately contacted her to ask if they could use it. Because those bookmarks rock. Seriously. I mean, how cool is that! Want to check it out? See her genius 'here on her blog' and 'here on Sew Mama Sew'. So if you haven't already "bookmarked" Korby's blog (oh I slay me...), you'd better do it now, because frankly, she rocks. (Love you Korb!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

i {heart} whip up

One of my absolute favorite sites that I stop by every single day without fail is 'Whip Up'. It features new posts everyday, showcasing different cool and crafty things from different sites all over the internet with a link to the site with all of the how-to information for that particular cool and crafty thing. Love it! So you can go there and not only get tons of inspiration, but you are sure to find lots of fun and fabulous sites to frequent as well. These are a few of my recent faves...

how-to transfer inkjet images to wood-


free quilt patterns-


thread sketching tutorial (I am dying over this one!)-


wild things tote-

 kids easy softie-

how to make a gift bow from a magazine page (genius!)-

Like I said, these are just a few. The site is filled with endless posts on some of the coolest stuff out there. Check it out, I'm sure it won't take long before you will find something that you just have to make!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

making it that much harder

It really sucks. Really. Sucks. My would-have-been-due-date is a month away and the monster "mother-to-be" mailing list I somehow landed on (still not sure how that happened) has kicked into high gear. Every day my mailbox and inbox are crammed with tons of offers and fliers from formula companies, maternity clothing stores, baby furniture showrooms, diaper companies, cord blood facilities, book sellers suggesting various titles on pregnancy, baby names, child rearing, breastfeeding etc., and the list goes on. I'm so tired of the constant stinging reminder of what I won't be having. I'm not drowning in a pool of self pity, it's not that. I'm not asking for sympathy or anything like that, it just makes me feel so helpless to keep getting inundated with all of this baby stuff for a baby I won't be having. And it's only going to get worse in the coming weeks. I hate that there is no way to alert these lame companies as to their mistaken assumption that I am still gestating. Being around babies isn't hard for me, I love being around all of the new little ones in my family. Being around other pregnant women isn't hard for me either, I still enjoy all of the pregnancy and baby talk that goes on. I have no problems with any of that at all. I'm just so tired of the en masse mailings I keep getting, all because these companies still think I'm pregnant. And I'm not. And like I said. It stings. I guess I'll just have to ride this one out. *sigh* Anyone know how to make it stop?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

soup’s on!

With Fall here and the weather quite chilly, I find myself making soup almost daily for supper. I love that you can make a seriously hearty, chunky soup with as few as 6 or 7 basic items from your pantry and freezer and toss it all into a crock pot where it can simmer all day so you don't have to fuss with it or even think all that much about it until it's supper time. Soup is also incredibly easy to make more or less of, without having to vastly increase your ingredients, which comes in especially handy since I am very often feeding several of my teenage son's friends along with my own mass of hungry hordes. We very often go through about 8 quarts of soup in a single sitting without even trying and we rarely have leftovers. My favorites these days are Beef & Barley, Chicken Tortellini, Chicken Tortilla Soup, Chicken Noodle, Hamburger Soup, and Cabbage Patch soup. I have also been making the 'Italian Hot Rolls' every night to go with our meals since they are the perfect combination with a good hot soup on a chilly Fall day, and my family loves hot fresh baked rolls anyways. I ran out of parmesan cheese earlier this week so I have been making the rolls without it, and sometimes omitting the garlic salt and just using 1 tsp. of salt instead, with the same excellent results. Those hot rolls are so good any way you make them, and I love that I can get them on the table fairly quickly from start to finish. Here is my basic Chicken Tortellini recipe, which has long been a favorite, and even converted my previously soup hating husband over to my soup loving ways.

Chicken Tortellini Soup

1 large onion diced

2 cups carrots sliced or diced

1 heaping cup celery, sliced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 TBSP. olive oil

3-4 quarts chicken broth (either canned or homemade is fine)

2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. thyme

2 bay leaves

Pepper to taste

2 (9-11 oz.) pkgs. frozen cheese tortellini

In a large stock pot, saute the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add the broth, chicken, salt, thyme, bay leaves and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes to let flavors blend. About 10 minutes before serving, add the frozen tortellini, and cook until they are done, or float to the top. Remove bay leaves before serving. Enjoy!

*all ingredients can be increased or decreased  as you like, this soup is easy to fiddle with as needed.

(pictures courtesy of Google)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

quick italian hot rolls w/ hamburger soup

Although I can't remember where I got this recipe, it has long been a favorite of mine and one I have come to depend on when I need some delicious dinner rolls in a jiffy.

Quick Italian Hot Rolls


  3 1/2 - 4 cups flour

  2 TBSP. active dry yeast (instant yeast works too)

  2 TBSP. sugar

  2 tsp. garlic salt

  1 tsp. Italian seasoning

  1 cup milk

  1/2 cup water

  2 TBSP. butter or margarine

 1 egg, lightly beaten

 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


  2 TBSP. butter or margarine, melted

 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


   Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Mix well. Combine milk, water and butter in saucepan. Heat until milk is lukewarm. Butter does not need to melt. Add to flour mixture. Add egg. Blend at low speed until moistened. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. Gradually stir in 1/2 cup parmesan and enough flour to make a firm dough. Knead for 3 - 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat top. Cover. Let rise about 15 minutes in a warm place. Punch dough down. Divide into 16 pieces. Form into balls. Dip tops into melted butter then into the 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Place in well greased muffin tins, with the butter side up. Let rise, covered, about 10 minutes. Bake @ 375* F for 20-25 minutes, or util light golden brown. Remove from pan to cool. Enjoy!

We had these rolls for dinner last night along with 'this soup recipe' my Auntie found on 'Tasty Kitchen' and posted on her blog. I made it as directed except I used 3 1/2 qts. of tomato juice instead of 3 qts. of V-8 juice, I used 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef because I don't like my soup too meaty, and I used 2 (16 oz.) bags of coleslaw mix in place of the chopped head of cabbage because I'm all for shortcuts. The soup was delish and is a definite keeper. In fact when my friend stopped by in the afternoon, she couldn't stop commenting on how amazing it smelled while it simmered away in the crockpot, and was asking for the recipe almost as soon as she walked in the door. Thanks for bringing that gem to my attention Auntie, I will be leaving a glowing review on the Tasty Kitchen site for sure!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

turning a jumper into a skirt

I came across a jumper of Gracen's from last year that she had long since outgrown and it looked like it had serious re-purposing potential. And it has butterflies embroidered across the front. And it's pink. The most important factor when considering anything to be made for Gracen. It's her favorite color. Of. All. Time. So this will be a hit with the little one for sure.

With one cut, a little unpicking, and a few stitches with the machine, it went from this...

to this...

and ended up as this.

All I did was cut the upper bodice off at the seam where it was attached to the skirt portion of the jumper, unpicked and removed the zipper at the back, sewed the back edge seam together where the zipper was, turned down the upper edge and made a casing at the waistband, added elastic the same length as Gracen's waist size, and I was done. A skirt was born from an outgrown jumper, in less than 30 minutes, and it's pink. It doesn't get much easier than that to make my little pink loving Gracen happy as a clam. Now to make a chocolate brown t-shirt cardi to go with it!

Monday, October 5, 2009

making a t-shirt into a cardigan

I needed a light cardigan for my daughter last week, so I grabbed a long sleeved t-shirt from her drawer that was rarely worn, and we went from this... this.

(I lightened the pic since black can make showing details difficult sometimes)

I trimmed off the hemmed edge at the very bottom of the tee, cut off the bottom of the tee making it a mid-cropped length for a cardi. Then I cut that bottom piece in half into two evenly sized strips, and sewed the two strips into one long continuous piece. I then cut up the center to make my opening and trimmed the bottom edge and the neckline, rounding them and evening everything up so it would hang correctly once finished. I folded my continuous strip in half, wrong sides together, and pinned it to the raw edges all the way around and stitched it in place, and then serged it for a finished look (if you don't have a serger it's fine, this step is not necessary, just cosmetic). I then top stitched it so that the edging would not flip over as she wore it.

The way it came out, the seams curved inward, so it was hard to get a good shot of this laying flat, but it worked perfectly and looked great while my daughter was wearing it, which was really the point anyways.

And now that I told you it looked great on my daughter, here is this crummy picture of the cardi (but cute one of my silly girl Haven) that makes the cardi look uneven and sloppy. I promise that the hem is not uneven, my daughter was just fed up and was basically trying to bolt out the door and was not happy I was taking her picture.

I made a second one the other day, this time for my youngest daughter. I used a short sleeve t-shirt, cutting off more length from the bottom of the tee so I had a longer continuous strip, pinning the edges as before but this time giving it some small gathers as I went so that the edging ruffled. And this time I joined all of the edges of the continuous strip so it was basically a circle of knit edging, trimmed off the entire neck band on the t-shirt and ran the continuous strip all the way around the edge.


It turned out very cute, but again the pictures were not so great as I had a very unhappy and unwilling model. Cute, nonetheless, but still not thrilled about having her picture taken. She was slightly mollified by the fact that she is wearing her absolute favorite color. Pink. Everything is best when it's pink in her little world. Even when she is forced to pose for pictures.

I also top stitched around the ruffle to turn keep it turned outward, otherwise it would have curled in. In the end, I thought the ruffled edge turned out far better than  the flat edging I did on the first cardi.

So I would do this ruffled edge again as I like the finished product much better. My only complaint has to do with my lack of pink serger thread. I only have white and black currently, so the white serger seams really flash and stand out as Gracen moved while wearing this. I may go back and top stitch some decorative narrow ribbon over top of the inside serged seams to cover them up and stop the numerous flashes of white thread that are so glaringly obvious every time she even so much as breathes.

Oh, and for future reference, when I made the fist cardi, I used a regular Schmetz universal sewing machine needle. For the second cardi I switched over to a Singer ball point needle as they are supposed to be best when sewing knits on your machine. For me this was not the case. My thread broke over and over again and I had skipped stitches no matter what I did as I sewed. And no amount of fiddling with the bobbin, the tension, the presser foot, or numerous rounds of re-threading ever made any difference whatsoever. It was an overall nightmare. So I switched back to my Schmetz universal needle and I stitched up every bit of the stretchy knit tee without a single problem after that. I'm still not sure what the deal was, but I will just know next time to forget the ball point needle unless I want to cry and have fits of hysteria while I sew. Just thought I would throw this out there in case anyone else has this same issue. And if you know what my have caused that headache, I am more than happy to give the ball point needle another try with any suggestions you might have. Otherwise forget it. It's Schmetz universal for me. Period.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

the end is in sight

Craig and I started in on the apples yesterday, and my sister Heidi and my Mom came out to help. We got a lot accomplished, for which I am very grateful. When all was said and done we ended up with:

12 quarts of apple juice,

16 quarts of applesauce,


3 pints of pears,

8 jelly jars of plum jam,


and 22 pints of strawberry lemonade concentrate.

I'm sorry if all of this canning talk is wearing on you. I have such a bad memory about this kind of stuff, so I post it here so that I can easily go back and re-read it. Otherwise I won't remember a single thing, I swear, and I will need this to reference come next years canning adventures. The good news is that we are very close to being done for the year, so you won't have to wade through this much longer.  And while I have enjoyed all of this,  I will also be very happy to put everything away and reclaim my kitchen counters once again. How is a girl supposed to be baking bread when her counters are covered with canning jars? Well, she can't. And the biggest reliazation I had from all of this? I could never have done it alone. I needed all of the help I got, it made it fun, everything went that much faster and we got so much more done. So thank you!