Monday, November 25, 2013

And She Goes On. . .

I had a dream last night about my hometown. I haven't been there in 9 years. In my dream it had changed so much - unrealistically, but still changed. I missed it.

I read part of a blog yesterday that made me miss blogging on a regular basis. Blogging about nothing. Blogging about everything. It made me miss writing.

I'm not a great writer. I'm not even a good writer, but I like words. I love reading and I enjoy writing.

I've been blogging in some format for nine years. Nine. The evolution of my posting has changed so much as I have had kids, Facebook arrived, I decided to split out my one blog into 3 so I could categorize family, projects and kid stuff separately. There were times I posted multiple times a day, but the busyness of life and things like Instagram, Facebook, and Google Reader being taken away make blogs a bit dead.

My blogs aren't dead. They are just. . . hibernating. I still have so much to share. Even if I am not eloquent with words. Even if I don't take pictures throughout the whole process of my projects. Even if I write stuff that no one cares about but me.

And while you are waiting (on pins and needles to be sure! ha ha) for me to wake back up, here's some suggested reading for you. Just 2 things that I think are great.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Pretty much any post of Michelle's, especially this one, or this one.

Or sneak over to Goodreads and make yourself a list of books to read - or ones you have read.  I am a bit obsessive about it. I like noting the exact date I start and end a book. I don't care so much about writing reviews (I'm terrible at them), but I love seeing what friends have rated and reviewed.

I'm still working on projects. I made most of our Halloween costume last month, organized my sewing area again and finished up some mending and a few little refashions. I have big plans for Christmas sewing. I just need to get to the fabric store.

I would apologize for yet another nothing post, but some great advice that I was given once about my type or personality is "don't hesitate. don't apologize." Naturally that doesn't mean I shouldn't say sorry when I accidentally ram someone with my cart or hurt someone's feelings.


So, this is what I've got for you today.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Getting Back on Track?

The kids are back in school! My days will no longer be filled with this during daylight hours. It's only been a short week and short days so far, so I don't know how much I'll miss my boys until Monday. I'm sure it will be plenty. However, I've already benefited from having just the two girls home. 
While the baby napped, I went to the basement with my other daughter, put on some old and terrible mixed tapes and sorted sewing projects. They got put in piles based on time sensitivity and how long they would take. Both those gray bins are full of specific projects. There are other bins full of fabric for non-specific projects that I didn't touch. Oh, and there are sewing only projects. None of my other things. I'm hoping to start majorly crossing things off that big list there on the table!
I have been catching up on my family blog though and that has been super nice. I'm terribly behind still, but it is important to me, so I will keep on truckin.'
I'm going to be teaching preschool this fall, so that will add another "to do," but I'm very excited (albeit very nervous right now too) to start. Not only am I pretty sure I will enjoy it, but it will be nice to have a paycheck again and fill some of my time in a way that distracts me from my boys being gone all day. 
I'm still regularly trying out new recipes. I'm still so backlogged on post about all of them. Are they useful? informative? I like looking back on them and using them as a resource to tweak the recipe and find it again when I lose my paper copy.
Here's to getting more done in the next few months!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Black and White

It took me much longer then it should have, but I finally finished my baby's blanket - just before she turned 9 months old.
The main hang up was the binding. I made it and never really felt like getting it made because it takes forever. At least it feels like forever.
 
 When I went to sew at my friend Nicole's house I probably packed 50 projects (not a joke. most were already packed up anyway) but when I got there I had only 2 things I felt like I had to accomplish. 1 - this blanket. 2 - an extremely simple and quick (we're talking 90 seconds max) mending job on my husband's shorts that I found in a pile of projects. He forgot he even owned the shorts! Anyway, this is me at work, laughing about whether or not I should smile for the picture.
 Anyway, I love it. She seems to like it, even if it isn't her beloved blanket that she's had since birth and uses as a pacifier. Better to introduce another blanket now so she isn't a Linus later in life, right?
 While we're going with some black and white projects (not on purpose), here is a refashion I did for my other daughter. I found this strapless number at the thrift store. I loved the ruching on the sides, the sort of rough edged ruffle on the bottom, and obviously, the polka-dots.
 I used one of her dresses as a basic pattern. I eyeballed the sleeves.
 I grabbed this worn out white shirt from my pile of knit "fabric" to add a neckline.
 The first version was lame-o. I redid it and changed my method.
 Instead of folding it over I sewed them right sides together and left one of the edges of the white all rough like. Far from perfect, but still fun.
The accessory, a hanging baby toy you put on car seats and such, was all her doing...
as was the posing!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Recipe Review #12 - Iowa Girl Eats Edition

 Ok, these recipes have been sitting here far too long waiting for me to add more. About a year and a half ago I discovered the food blog Iowa Girl Eats. It started with me finding a couple of recipes that looked good. Then I spent a good hour plus just reading about Iowa and getting homesick. I have found myself going back for more and more recipes and finding little fault with them and mostly just loving everything. It has become one of my main sources for recipes. I often have to double them, but that's not too tricky. So, although this is my official recipe review based on Kristin's recipes, know that you will see many more in the future mixed with other sources.
I will just start with one that failed at my house, but don't be deterred, you might like it. I don't know how wide spread a "loose meat" sandwich is, but I had completely forgotten about them until I read this post. I don't think I even visited the restaurant. There's wasn't one in my town (incidentally, they have one in Utah now about 40 minutes from me). They were served at school though. I can't really remember eating them because I avoided any sort of beef dishes at school because they were so greasy. So, the original sandwiches are beef, but I thought I would try her turkey version. (She also has a beef version here.)
I made them. they were fine. No one loved them and no one wanted to eat them again. I don't know if making it with beef would have made them better. So, I'm not saying they were gross - you may want to try them. I'm just saying we thumbs-downed it. Now that I have started on a negative note, let's turn things around.
Excited to try another quinoa recipe and liking the rest of the ingredients, I tried out the Kiwi Mango Quinoa Salad.
  I liked it. I thought it was tasty. My family didn't like it. As, I'll probably say again on the blog, my family just doesn't seem to like quinoa, despite my best efforts. The Ginger-Lime vinaigrette that tops the salad is super good. I'm wondering if I try this with something that my family will eat like couscous or even acini di pepe if they would give it another try.
Baked Bowties was another good recipe and great for freezing. In fact I made it specifically as a freezer meal and never ended up taking pictures of it. It is similar to lasagna, but drier. I decided not to keep this one, but only because I'd rather just make my regular lasagna recipe that I love. This is super easy though.
I love good crockpot recipes. This Crockpot Santa Fe Chicken one passed the test at our house. Everyone loved it.
It feels good knowing that your dinner is virtually made by 10am. I did have to make rice, but we have a rice cooker (that I insisted I didn't want, but love now), so that only take about a minute to get prepped and then just wait for it to be done. I wish I had taken a picture of it when it was all done instead of a semi-creepy one of raw chicken floating in broth, etc.
I love summer foods. Even if the name for this next dish, Summer Pasta Skillet, didn't say "summer" in it, I think I'd easily fall for it based on the picture. And, I did.
My picture is not so pretty, but no matter - the food was still great.
 I have to remember that when making these dishes to substitute the sausage for something a little less spicy, or just mix the spicy with regular or sweet sausage so my kids are more okay eating it.
I'm bundling two recipes together here because I made them together. First up is the Grilled Chicken with Barley Corn Salad
 
The barley salad looked like it would be great. I think barley adds great texture and flavor to dishes. In fact all of the ingredients were ideal. Sadly, I didn't love this one. My husband, on the other hand really liked it. He's always asking for more barley and this hit the spot for him.
You can't go wrong with fruit dip. This one was good. I'm so used to the strawberry flavored dips I usually have with fruit that I didn't completely warm up to the orangey flavor. It was tasty though and the kids certainly liked it.
Kristin really does a great job with creating a photo that makes your mouth water. Look how pretty this Chipotle-Mango BBQ Chicken Salad looks. 
And even if mine wasn't as pretty, it was really good. The heat was a bit too much for the kids. I think in the future we'll have to grill them some plain chicken and just have the spicy stuff for ourselves
Here we go with that "summer" word again enticing me. This time was meatless. Summer Veggie Pasta Skillet
We opted for shells when I made this (since that is all we had). Also, I live with a squash hater, so we went with zucchini (still a squash, I know) instead.
 I really liked this a lot. My husband liked it enough and I think for the kids the items might need to be separated more. I actually made this one a long time ago (like many of the recipes I post), but just looking at it again made me want to eat it this week. So, I just got the groceries needed to make it again!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

[Project from the Past]: Buncha Baby Clothes Part 2

The pictures for the next outfit are pretty bad. Sorry about that, but I can't go back in time to change them. This was a gift for my cousin who was having her first baby.
The top probably looks pretty familiar, but this time in white. I made the ballet skirt a little less full on this version.
To go with it I made this knit skirt. I just eyeballed it and fake surged the edges for a rough sort of look.
I added on three little rose-like flowers made out of some of the tulle to match the skirt on the shirt.
This is not one of my best gifts. Sorry, friend. The shirt was a basic applique. And the shoes were my first (and so far only) attempt at these Kimono Booties.
They came together easier enough, but I decided I didn't like my fabric choices (the inside sole was fleece, the rest cotton) and that they didn't seem to lay just right. I never got feedback about them so they might have been just fine on a person (just as likely they were weird and never got used!). I do want to try this pattern out again.
This was another gift for another cousin (I have a LOT of cousins). I didn't have a lot of time, but still though the end gift was pretty cute.
I grabbed a onesie from my massive stack of plain white onesies - all prewashed and ready to go for gift making.
I cut strips of knit (my favorite material for this sort of thing) and gathered them into ruffles. A few quick lines of stitching to attach them and the baby gift was done!
This one might seem out of place with the rest of these. My brother's wife was pregnant with their first boy. My brother loves Ice Cube and I spent many hours listening to it in the car with him as a teenager. I had been wanting to try out this photo transfer idea from Little Blue Boo. It worked pretty well. I think something more like a line drawing than a photo would work better, but I still like how it turned out. (The photos are horrible.)
This last project was actually done quite recently. My son's kindergarten teacher, whom we loved, was pregnant and I wanted to give her something thoughtful. This is what I came up with.
My son is always drawing. He's good too. On his school assignments his pictures of animals (and later army guys) would fill the margins of the paper. So, I scanned in one of his drawings to use it as a shirt design. I cleaned up the color and darkened the edges so that I could trace it onto pellon. I then ironed the pellon on the shirt and carefully stitched along the lines.
Here's how it turned out. I probably should have used a more contrasting thread color, but I was still pleased and surprised how easy this actually was to do.

Friday, May 10, 2013

[Project from the Past]: Buncha Baby Clothes Part 1

So, I've got baby gifts I need to make (2 girls and 1 boy) as well as sewing up some summer goodies for my daughter. It reminded me that there are some baby gifts I made almost 2 years ago that I never posted. The pictures have just been sitting in a folder all lonely like. Let's get to this - summary style.
This little set was for a friend's baby who will be two in about a month. She had three boys and then a girl, so I wanted to give her some girly stuff. Let's talk about the onesie first.
You've probably seen these over and over. I helped my little sister make some for her girls and this was the first one I made on my own. (Tutorial I used)
The faux necklace was made with fabric paint. When making the ones with my sister, she figured out that it's best to put your shoulder dots in and then the one(s) in the center - working your way back up to the shoulders.
I was at my friend Nicole's house and she taught me how to make the flower. (Silky layers of fabric cut in circles, just singe the edges with a lighter so they don't fray.) I think I sewed the flower on by hand, but don't really remember.
The pants started out as big clearance shirt from Target.
 I used a pair of my daughter's pants to measure the leg length for the new pants and cut them out of the sleeves. With no hemming these came together fairly easy.


I'm not impressed with my waistband work here (and couldn't quite even out the elastic in the casing, but figured with enough putting on and off it would stretch around more even).
Using some more fabric from the shirt, I made a few ruffles. It was my first time adding a ruffle bum on pants instead of the bum of a onesie. It's a little crooked, but overall I thought it looked fine. I liked the outfit all together. The next gift I made for her is one of my favorites.
 When I only had my boys I envied mothers of daughters who got to make all this cute stuff and keep it for their own child! So, when I found out I was having a girl, I did some sewing and made some cute stuff. I also bought a bunch of fabric to make more stuff that I never got around to. This fabric was part of that stash.
 My idea started as just a simple onesie dress. (Tutorial I used ) Then, I got inspired by the print.
 I figured ballet shoes need something ballet-y to go with them, like a tutu. So, I added some tulle to the hem.
 And my very favorite part - the skirt on the shirt! How did I make it? Uh, just trying a few things out. It took a few tries to get it right, but eventually folding the tulle just so and tucking it into a folded black ribbon and sewing them together. Add a little bow and sew it on to the onesie. Ah...I guess it is not too late to make something like this for my own girls.
 This next set (I told you I was back-logged!) was for my husband's cousin. I still feel a bit guilty when I look at this because I put some work into this (loving all of it, if that's ok to say) and her older sister had her first baby like 6 months later and I gave her squat. Timing is everything on good gifts from me (and apparently gifts at all. :( ) Anyway...
 I had been wanting to try making rolled flowers. These are no sew and held together with glue (I used fabric glue.) They came together pretty easily and quickly. (Tutorial I used)
I made a matching headband too. Notice how the leaves match the green lace of the headband?
This was my second time making "baby legs" (basically leg warmers/substitute baby pants). I don't know if I ever blogged about the first pair.
Here's a terrible picture of them.
Anyway, the are very easy to make. There are several tutorials online, but I can't remember which one I used.
This baby was going to be born in Texas. There's nothing like hometown(state) pride so, a personalized onesie was in order.
At this point I was still a pretty novice applique-er. I still sort of am, but am getting better.
This is another favorite baby gift. I think is is the fabric that wins me over so much. I used the same onesie dress tutorial as above.
I added a little ribbon on the bottom to bring out the aqua "stitching."
A little bow up top out of the same ribbon.
And to make it a complete outfit, a little headband, complete with bow to match the skirt.

I've got more old baby stuff to post, so, stay tuned for part 2 when I can get to it.