Sunday, September 18, 2011

Project updates and Book Shelf Organization

Been Busy today taking my kiddo to the park to play in the fountain, hitting up the library, visiting family, cleaning, and 2nd best of all! Working on the LTTSA backpack! Have I ever mentioned that I hate cutting out patterns and pieces? It's my least favorite part of the sewing experience. Fabric shopping might be my favorite, sewing second--if given a choice, I'd even rip apart a messed up seam and re-sew it before cutting out pieces. Anyways.... It's allllll done! The pieces are cut (except the interfacing b/c I don't know how much I want to use yet) and waiting for attention! I made a couple changes to the pattern and added/subtracted some things to the pattern. Like pockets on each side and making the front one complete piece without a seam and without pockets. I'm also using quilting cotton and flannel instead of a sturdier fabric. Hence the indecision about interfacing. So tomorrow, hopefully, me and the machine have a date :)

Next: Some long awaited pics of my new sewing room. But only the bookshelves.

Look at the organization! It's delish. My books are all in the middle with fabric and sewing boxes and random craftiness on the sides. I still have to clean off the tops of the shelves and decorate, and the closet needs attention, but 80% done is goooood.

Here are my Rainbow organized books! I stole this idea from my sister's roommate who has awesome bookcase organizing techniques as well as kick butt spinach artichoke dip. No lie.
I thought about organizing by author or genre, but it's a really mixed bunch and in this small of a room, it would just look like chaos, so color was the choice! And I'm a fan.

These shelves of fabric goodness are displayed on rectangle cut pieces of cardboard boxes. It is easy to see all my fabrics and somehow I can fit much more into the tiny space. Not that I'm sure you can call four rows of bookshelves, a scrap box, a remnant box (top left shelf), a 55gal bucket with faux fur, and another box of felt a "tiny" space, but you get the idea.

Do you like my vintage tea cup? I use it to hold all my straight pins. It's easy to get into, and not too easy to knock over. I love it. The red toile pattern is so pretty.

Now it's time for a good book, a cup of hot tea, and to throw my sour dough loaf into the oven. It should have risen by now. Then bed, bed, bed.

 Goodnight, my someone, goodnight :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fall Coasters

I can't believe Fall is here already! It doesn't quite feel Fall-ish yet to me, but I am getting in the mood with this project I made for the Celebrate Color Crochet category.

These adorable little crochet coasters were so fun to make! And my favorite projects are the short and sweet kind-this definitely qualified. I made them in Red Heart yarns worsted and sport weights (did you know it's Red Hearts 75th Birthday this year?). I wanted a couple different colors in the worsteds, but hey, they're coasters and use scraps of yarn by comparison to other projects so why buy more yarn. (I know, ANY excuse to buy yarn is a good one, but you haven't seen my collection...)

I sketched out the designs by looking at pics on google of the items I was making: an Acorn, an Apple, a Pumpkin, and a Leaf. I tried to keep the shapes about coaster size and measured them against our cups to make sure they fit.Then I perused my stash of yarn and grabbed a selection. I crocheted them by chaining my base chains the with of the bottom of the pattern and single crocheted up adding or decreasing at the ends of the rows as needed to match the pattern size. Or in the pumpkin's case, I made a loop of 3 chains and worked rows out until it was about the size of the pattern. I made most of the stems and leafs separately and stitched them on with a yarn needle. The most important part was outlining the finished pieces in chain stitches to smooth the edges and complete the look.

For the Leaf (it's a light golden color, but looks tan in the pics), I chain stitched the grey/tan stem with 3 rows of chains on top of each other. I left a long tail and stitched it to the Leaf then sewed the vein pattern by catching little bits of the gold yarn so that it would stay in place, but not be overly obvious.

The Acorn is probably my favorite. I really like how the shape turned out. This stem and nut part are made in the sport weights and the cap is made in worsted. Didn't make much difference honestly.

Redding was a good help by keeping my company while he worked on his "drawing." Stickers, colored pencils, and glue. What more could a 2yr old ask for?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cheesy Ham and Potato Bake

One of my favorite ways to save money in the kitchen is by buying one large hunk of meat to make multiple meals with. Turkey, Boston Butt Roast, and Ham are my faves. Aldi usually has hams for good prices and I picked one up while I was in there the other day. I cooked it up for dinner the first night and made a brown sugar glaze for it with mashed potatoes, peas, biscuits and gravy. After dinner, I finished cutting up the ham and set aside a ziploc sandwich bag full of cubes to use for dinner on the second night to make Cheesy Ham and Potato Bake. The first time I made it for Alan, he said "Oh my goodness, where has this been all my life!". He makes a lady feel good :)

Anyway, Here's the Recipe:
6 Large Potatoes (I like red skin) or 1/2 of a 5lb bag. 
2 Cups Cubed Ham
3 Cups Shredded Cheese (Pick your favorite)
1 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Cream Cheese
2 Tbsp Lowry's Seasoning Salt
1/4 tsp each Salt and Pepper

Wash Your Potatoes and slice them in half and then into Slivers no bigger than 1/4" thick. Boil them until tender in a large pot.

When you're done drain the water and dump your other ingredients into the pot with the potatoes, but SAVE 1 Cup Shredded Cheese. Mix it all up with a big spoon until everything is pretty well blended. You can mix the cheeses and seasonings separately if you want and then add it to the potatoes, but I've done it both ways and it's not any easier.

Grease a big Lasagna sized pan (mines like 15" x 10" or something). HUGE. Pour your mixture into the pan and even it out. Sprinkle the remaining Cheese on top. Cover tightly with foil, and bake at 350 for 25min. Super Easy, not too many dishes used, and there's enough for a family of Four or leftover to have for lunch the next day.

You can also adjust the Recipe to include  ingredients you already have. Like using Ricotta and Cottage Cheese instead. Or mozzarella instead of Cheddar. Sausage would work great instead of ham. I had already made my sour cream into ranch dip with one of those little powder packets, so I used that this time and it tasted great.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wyatt's Fall Outfit

Wyatt's Fall Outfit -ignore the drool spots :)

I was so excited to learn about the Celebrate Color Blog Contest and couldn't wait to get started. I decided to make Wyatt a Fall outfit to enter in the Fabric Wearables category. In Florida, Fall is still really just summer with a few new colors. The temperature is still in the 90's every day right up until November. We wear t-shirts and shorts in light cotton fabrics and venture to the pool after playing at the neighborhood playground most days. Florida's fall colors are hues of Green and Brown from the many oak trees and St. Augustine grass with Gold Sunflowers and Maple trees that show off an occasional Red leaf. Keeping this palate in mind, I grabbed a homespun remnant fabric I've bought for the plaid and awesome colors and one of my husband's old Banana Republic t-shirts that is super comfy and soft.

I used one of Wyatt's outfits (previously owned by Redding) to draw up the pattern for a pair of shorts and shirt. I went with a little larger size than he wears so that he can get a good bit of use out of it. I also designed a monogrammed "W" for the front of Wyatt's shirt in the leftover fabric from the shorts. I deconstructed Alan's old t-shirt and used the existing collar and hems to make it look less "homemade" :) I satin stitched the "W" to the front of the shirt and pieced it all together.

On the butt of the shorts I added pockets. To add a bit of detail so the pockets didn't get lost, I cut on the bias of the fabric and zig-zagged stitched them on for fun.

Wyatt seems to think he's pretty cool and likes his comfy clothes :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Espresso Cream Cupcakes

One word for this: Yum!!!

This tasty creation came to be while making up a batch of cupcakes with Redding. I split the batter in half and let him put sprinkles into his half and began searching the cupboards for something good for my half. And then I saw it: Starbucks Espresso Beans. I kept looking and found Cream Cheese and Hershey's Dark Cocoa Powder. That's right folks, the only thing different with these cupcakes is three ingredients. But boy oh boy does it make a difference!

So, to make these tasties, grab your ingredients and let's get started...
  • One box of Butter Cream Cake mix
  • The ingredients on your cake mix box: A couple eggs, oil (I think), and water
  • 4 Tbsp Finely ground Espresso beans
  • 1/2 Cup Regular Cream Cheese

You can use pre-ground Espresso beans, just grind em up real fine before you use them. The cream cheese doesn't have to be softened, just be sure to use the real stuff, no light/low-fat nonsense here :) Dump it all into the bowl of your electric mixer and mix it up per the directions. Mine had me mix it on Low for 2-3min and then on Medium for another 2min. It should look like this when your done:

Next, you'll take your cupcake pans spray them really well with Pam. I didn't have any cupcake liners, but the cooking spray worked great and they didn't stick at all. Fill up your pans to about 3/4 full. The cream cheese makes the batter thicker and it doesn't rise quite as much. Well, that's not true. They rise in the oven, but collapse when you cool them. They are very dense. My batch made 17.

While they are cooking (go by the directions on the box), you can make up your frosting. I went with a Butter Cream recipe and adjusted it a bit. {Is there a difference between frosting and icing?}

Butter Cream Icing:
  • 3 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract 
I didn't wait till my butter was at room temp, so I softened it up with my mixer first. Begin adding your Powdered Sugar by the cup and mix, mix, mix. Add in your Vanilla Extract after you mix in your first cup of powdered sugar. Keep mixing the stuff and scraping down the sides, and then mix and scrape, and after that, mix some more. Mix until it looks like nice thick, fluffy Icing. You should taste it too. That helps the process :)

Your cupcakes should be cooked and cooled now, and you are ready to ice. If you haven't already, go ahead and remove them from the pans and set them on your cake platter or broiling pans work great too. I decided to cut them all to the same height to make them easier to ice and so they look nice. I don't have one of those nifty cake cutting wires, so I cut a length of heavy duty sewing thread, wrapped it around my fingers like floss and ran it across the tops of the cupcakes while they were still in the pan (or sitting in your broiling pan) using a sawing, back and forth motion. I gave the tops to Redding to mollify him while I iced the cupcakes.

If you have a Icing bag and large tip for decorating, you can use that to ice your cupcakes. I don't. So, I used a little icing spatula (a fancy butter knife works well too) and kinda dabbed the icing onto the cupcakes to give it that fun peaked look. 

And to complete the picture:
 Sift some Hershey's Cocoa Powder (Or Nesquik Powder) over the cupcakes and Wha-lah! (The chocolate powder doesn't add much for flavor, but it's so pretty!) If you wanted to go really coffee-ish, you could sift some Espresso grounds over top. Mmmmm... Enjoy!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Wyatt's Bucket Hat

Coming in just under the wire on this one :) Sewing the hat up as we speak.
My reason? I'm officially in my new sewing room/office tonight! Using it for the first time, and loving my peace, quiet, and organization! It's a beautiful thing.
Pics of the hat(s) and my new sewing room on the way!


And here they are!!!

We used Wyatt's hat at the park the next day and he loved it! It worked great at keeping the sun out of his face and Redding thought it was very silly :)

I really like how lightweight it is. I used good ole Walmart cotton camo print and solid black fabrics with medium weight iron-on interfacing. It provided a good amount of shade without making Wyatt hot like some of his other hats do.

 A note on the construction:
I realized that for this project, cutting with the grain of the fabric does make a difference. My camo fabric was a scrap left over from Redding's Fourth of July pants last year, and I squeezed the pieces onto the fabric however I could to make them fit. When I was piecing the side and top together, you have to cut notches into the side to make it fit the top. Because I didn't follow the grain, I got some funny stretching action, and a couple wrinkles while sewing. Nothing too obvious, but noticeable nonetheless.

I followed the grain when cutting out the black fabric for the inside of the hat and I had a much easier time piecing it together.

He has some room to grow in it which is great. Now I just have to make Redding one, and then all my boys will have matching hats. Alan has the real deal that he got at boot camp years ago. I might sew some molle loops on Redding's hat to make it look more like Alan's.

I loved sewing up this pattern. It was wonderful. The books instructions were very clear and made perfect sense. I only changed the sewing-by-hand part to sewing on the machine. Twas easy. 

Looking forward to the backpack this month!