03 November 2015

Frozen skirt

I won a blog contest a while back on Thread Riding Hood and got to do a little shopping at Stay Home Fabrics.  I saw a quarter yard of pink sparkly Frozen fabric on clearance and just had to get it for my princess.  A quarter yard is plenty for a skirt for a three year old, even when she wears a size 5/6.  And I even have a scrap leftover for something else.

Once I decided on a skirt, I remembered a tutorial from Make It Love It for a skirt that had a little bit of tulle peeking out the bottom.  I happened to have just the right amount leftover from Cupcake's mermaid costume.

It was very easy to put together - I did it in an afternoon.  I didn't look over the directions closely though, and reversed the lining so the tulle is against her skin, but she doesn't notice or care at all.  She's happy, so I'm happy.  It was a nice finish to Kid's Clothes Week.

more E, F, G

I've picked back up with a bunch of sewing in September and October, after not doing much during the summer because of all of the gardening and food preservation.

Random sidenote - it's becoming apparent to me that I won't be able to do an "every month for a year" type of sewing challenge. Sewing goes in spurts for me, because we're doing so many different things all the time. The summer, particularly July and August, is for the garden and canning. We also spent a lot of time at the local pool this past summer

So with getting into another sewing spurt - 

E is for empire-waist 
TA turned 4 last month and wanted an Elsa dress for her birthday present. I did the same type of thing as JE's Elsa dress from her birthday in April - get a white t-shirt (which was something from her drawer that she never wore so it had no stains!! and I didn't have to buy anything!!) and chop it off under the arms, then attach a bunch of fabric to the bottom for an empire-waist type skirt. Mindy gave me the sheer blue sparkle snowflake fabric, I got the blue satin under it when our mom was cleaning out her fabric, and the white lining layer under THAT (which wasn't necessary after all like I thought it was, but oh well) was left over from RG's baptism dress. I don't think I paid a single thing for this dress.

F is for flowers 
I sew with a lot of floral prints. I made two more Bento bags in September because now we have 4 girls in dance classes. We had 3 last year, but I never got around to making SM's bag. Done. And TA has one too. JK is the only one without a dance bag - might as well just go ahead and do it for her.

G is for green and glitter
I don't know if you can see that these shorts have glitter on the fabric ... but they do. It's really cute. This was another pair of shorts from the MADE pattern that I made in August. (And no, I don't know why it's sideways.) I think I made these earlier in the summer, when I did the flannel shorts for SM. I timed myself - I can make a pair of these shorts in just under an hour. My count is up to 7 total so far. I'm sure there will be more.

G is for Grace
RG was baptized on October 10, and Adam has asked that I make each of the girls their own white dress for the occasion. I love the white-on-white embroidery! RG chose the fabric, but *huffy sigh* plain white is so. boring. She was annoyed that I wouldn't add extra trims with colors, and wore it with a pink sweater to church the next day. The pattern was the Oliver+S rollerskate dress, which I lengthened by quite a bit. It's supposed to end at her knees, and I made it mid-calf. I also lowered the high waist by an inch or two (not sure).

 And now, it's on to Christmas. I have no idea if I'll be able to shoe-horn my Christmas projects into the Sew All 26 challenge, or if that will have to go on a hiatus until January. What I have on my list doesn't fit into the next few letters. But happy sewing anyway!

02 November 2015

G is for gingham

Halloween has come and gone, and I've had a Dorothy dress on my to-do list since last spring. At last, Mom has delivered!! I used this tutorial from Girl. Inspired. to make the dress - I did the straps over the shoulders instead of the halter like she has it, and I didn't shirr the back (although I probably should so it fits better). That was a new feature I didn't have time to figure out, and I didn't want to screw up the dress the day before Halloween.

At the church party on Friday.

SM ready to trick-or-treat with her cousin KE who recently moved to Connecticut from Arizona - they'd never met before this summer and were instant friends. KE was Mal from Disney's Descendants.

I don't know what it is, but I love gingham. It makes me think of cute little cottages in a country flower garden, and picnics in the summer. I also sewed a couple of gingham items during the summer. I bought my first ever PDF pattern last spring and made some shorts (that didn't fit the original kid who chose the fabric - they went to the next one down). I had just enough fabric left over for a simple skirt for JK. The skirt needed something to give it a little more pizzazz so I appliqued a teal knit heart, and then Shorts Girl wanted a heart on her knee as well. Don't look too closely - the edges are a mess. I'm still figuring out knit fabric.

22 October 2015

my little mermaid

This morning I attempted to photograph a mythical creature...

...a three year old that holds still.

Cupcake decided she wanted to be a mermaid for Halloween.
Since we live in a place where there is usually snow by the end of October,
this posed as a challenge. 

"I need a tail and a shell and red hair."
Aunt Taera is taking care of the hat/wig, which we will get soon.
I'll eventually update when she's fully outfitted for trick-or-treating.

I already had this beautiful material, that changes colors depending on the angle.
It is blue and red and purple and perfect for a mermaid tail.
I struggled to decide on how to make it, since the fabric has zero stretch,
but I made it up as I went along and she's happy with how it turned out.

Simple skirt, with an elastic waist.  The hem comes to a point and is
finished with a wide ruffle and three layers of tulle for poof.
She's able to walk in it comfortably, and snow pants will fit underneath if needed.

Long-sleeve white shirt with gold details from Walmart.
The shells are made from multiple layers of gold glitter tulle, 
with a single layer of teal on top.
Gathers in the middle and ends, then sewn on by hand.

I started our Sew All 26 Challenge with Cupcake's Bo Peep costume last year,
and now this is my letter M for Mermaid.  Half way done!


Aunt TC did an amazing job!  Lots of compliments.
It was a wonderful, snow-free night of trick-or-treating!

09 October 2015


After receiving some giant zucchini from Nana's garden last summer, I found this recipe to turn zucchini into apple.  It isn't magic, but it feels like it!  Cook the sliced zucchini in a bit of lemon juice, add some sugar and cinnamon and you have yourself what tastes like apple!  I used it in an "apple crisp" and completely fooled my husband, who hates zucchini.  We called it "deceitful crisp."

So this year, after another crop of zucchini, I had a grand idea - if I can use zucchini in pies and crisps like apples, why not sauce?  It works!  Use the same cooking method, and then blend it smooth.  Done and delicious.  It uses up a lot of zucchini all at once, and the zucchini-haters have no idea.

And in case you are wondering, I am on track for finishing my 100 recipes in the year!  77 recipes as of today, so only two each week for the rest of the year to get it done.

27 September 2015

Plaid Jacket

When I got the email that Shwin & Shwin was having a sale on their jacket patterns I had to get a couple.  I've been wanting to make Cupcake a jacket for a while and I'm not going to pass up on a sale.  The Michelle Jacket is the first pattern I've used with more than two pieces - I was excited for a new challenge.  Clear directions made it easy to follow and put together so it was a great first pattern to use.

I was given the adorable plaid canvas, and was saving it just for a project like this.  The pale pink lining is a sheet I picked up at the thrift store.  The piping and buttons were also given to me, so it was less than $10 for this adorable jacket!

I like everything about this jacket.  The hood for staying warm.  The pockets for keeping treasures.  The piping for a bit of color.  The shape is so girly for my little princess.  She looked so stylish wearing it to church today.

There were a lot of firsts with this project but the biggest thing was the buttons.  I had never sewn a button hole before!  I did do a few practice ones before starting on the jacket, but I probably should have done a few more.  Patience isn't my strong suit.  Of the five, the first three aren't great, but my last two were as good as I'd expect to get.  I'm glad I had this project to push me to try something new!

This whole project made me smile: starting with cute fabric,  facing new challenges, having lots of success, and ending with a warm, happy little girl. 

22 September 2015

crockpot drumsticks

It's the beginning of fall - time to break out the crockpot! And we're super busy this season with the kids' school activities (like everyone else, I'm sure) so dinner prep is the earlier the better.

My little girls love "bone chicken" so that's what we had for dinner tonight. I did some searching for recipes specific for drumsticks in the crockpot. I found this recipe online somewhere (I don't even remember, and varied it up a bit - this is what I did:

- a dozen chicken drumsticks
- an entire head of garlic broken apart and dropped in the bottom of the crockpot. I didn't peel the cloves

- in a small bowl:
about 6 tbl of olive oil
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

With a basting brush, brush each drumstick with the oil/spices and then put it in the crockpot on top of the garlic cloves. The dozen filled up my crockpot.

Pour 1 cup of chicken broth over everything. I cooked it on high for about 4 1/2 hours, and they were fall-apart goodness! The kids ate them right up. I was a bit heavy on the pepper flakes so that added a lot more heat than I was anticipating. But they were still good.

Served with rice (and spooned the leftover broth in the crockpot over the rice), and steamed green beans.

And for another tasty cold-weather dinner, this corn chowder. I make it with fresh corn rather than canned and once, Adam added chicken to it. You can substitute cream for the cream cheese, but it doesn't turn out as thick. Other than that, just follow the directions. Good stuff!

08 September 2015

the harvest

The results of the garden are a lot of really cool heirloom tomatoes! The little red/green stripe is Jasper. The green one on the bottom left is Aunt Ruby's German Green. The long one across the bottom is Jersey Devil. I'm not sure what the other more generic looking ones are but they're just as good to put into salsa! We've canned 24 pints of salsa and 10 pints of Italian pasta sauce from a mix of the tomatoes, along with onion, peppers, and a bunch of other vegetables and herbs from our garden.

To clarify (because I was asked this question on Facebook), "heirloom" vegetables is in reference to the seeds - that they've been saved and preserved by farms and small companies that specialized in seed trading. They've not been modified by the large GMO companies. Most tomatoes you find in stores are genetically modified to hold their color and shape longer so they can last in the stores. The ethical merits of genetically modified foods aside, the store tomatoes may hold their color longer but they've lost a lot of their taste and texture. The heirloom tomatoes we grow don't last long sitting around - they go bad fast. But the difference in taste and texture is amazing. Even I like these tomatoes! And I've never liked tomatoes.

We've spent the month of August making pickles, pickles, and more pickles. We hit about 24 gallons this year. We were shooting for 30 gallons, like last year but we came in under the target because our CSA farm co-op didn't give us as many cucumbers this year. We've also canned peaches, pears, and jam. Adam nailed it with what we're calling our WILD jam - a combination of strawberry, blueberry, cranberry, mulberry, and raspberry.

We grew sunflowers this year, but they were smaller ones. Adam came home recently with two GIANT sunflower heads so we could dry the seeds and plant them for next year. The girls took turns using them as parasols. The smallest kids could barely even lift one.

And this is what I like about food in the summer: this was my dinner over the weekend. Mashed potatoes/squash, sauteed bell peppers and onions, and grilled tilapia. Totally healthy and really tasty!

And yesterday was one of my first attempts at canning, without the close supervision of Chef Adam. It didn't turn out so well. If you look closely at the jars of apples, you'll notice that the syrup doesn't come up to the top of the jar as it should for proper preservation. REALLY frustrating. And that was after boiling them a second time, so we have to do them AGAIN. I don't want to do them again. They were a pain in the neck the first time, and now we have to fix them a THIRD time?!?! S.I.G.H.

This is why I haven't been sewing since June. Gardening and particularly canning are a team effort.

04 September 2015

the garden

Last year, our front yard looked like this. Just a flower bed. The garden was in the backyard but didn't grow well at all. There's too much shade back there - we have over 50 trees on our property and they shade the entire backyard for most of the day. Great for kids, not so much for tomatoes. 

In April, Adam tilled most of the front yard under and we laid out the garden there. It's a mix of flowers and vegetables. We had beautiful tulips in May.  

MAY: starting to grow.

We have a large rhododendron bush right by our front porch but last year, the girls ripped off every single bud before they bloomed. So this was my first time seeing rhododendrons. I thought this was a fun looking flower. And then they opened. Awesome.

 The lilies and irises planted by the previous owner. We're grateful for her flowers!

 JUNE: take off!
Some of our herb pots on the deck, accessible to the kitchen. The plan is to put the basil in the main garden next year, because these little pots didn't give us nearly as much as we wanted.

JE's petunias and TA's violets in the planter boxes on the deck.  

When we got back from vacation at the end of June, the pumpkin plant had taken off. And the lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, and dill. 

JULY: more new flowers

Sunflowers at 8 1/2 feet tall, and still growing. They topped 10 feet. My one regret with these flowers is that they're the perfect size to cut and put in vases in the house, and I never did. Next year.

 Yes, we intended for the pumpkins to get really big. These are supposed to be 50 pounders. They've been picked now because bugs got to the plant and killed it. We need to figure out how to weigh them because they're HUGE.


 black-eyed Susans - one of my new favorite flowers

Jersey devil heirloom tomatoes. We also had Aunt Ruby's German Greens, and Jaspers.

I will say that the garden is far more Adam's project than mine - he goes through all the seeds, plans it out, and does most of the planting. Then comes my part. I watered it a lot this year (not a lot of rain - I have never in my life hoped and prayed for rain as I have this year), and I do a lot of the weeding. So I put in a good amount of work too.