22 February 2017

Welcome Snowflake

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Welcome Snowflake!

Not much sewing has been going on for the past month, for a very good reason.  One little baby girl was born a surprising four weeks early and has changed our lives.  For being so early she has had very few health concerns, but she eats frequently and quite slowly.  She's a fairly content baby, so the rest of the time she sleeps, but I had forgotten how time-consuming having a newborn is.  It doesn't help that I'm up multiple times during the night so I'm constantly running low on energy.  

Cupcake is thrilled to be a big sister!  She frequently asks to hold the baby, and talks to her in a high squeaky voice.  I've had to work hard to be patient with her though, as she has become more demanding for my attention and acts out a bit - not horribly so, but I'm already tired and stressed so it just feels worse than it is.  It has been an adjustment, definitely, but so worth it.


My creative time has been cut back significantly, but I've made an effort to do at least a little bit each day though, even if it is for only 15 minutes.  I have three baby dresses that I started right after Christmas, and they are still unfinished.  (It didn't help that I tried to add piping to one of them, twice, and will just need to move on without it.)  Cupcake also needs a new dress, there are patterns I still want to try out, a rag quilt to make, and more inspiration than I have time for!  I must make project priorities and make full use of those precious 15 minutes each day.

Looking forward to making clothes just for you, sweet Snowflake!

10 January 2017

2016 sewing review, 2017 plan

2016 REVIEW
1. Quilts. I finished two. The first was a quilt top that Adam's mom made and I found when we were cleaning out her house after her funeral. I did some repair work to the top, then quilted and bound it. It's now on TA's bed. The second was my first start-to-finish rail fence quilt titled The Pink Babies. The phrase of the Pink Babies goes clear back to when SM was a newborn, and this quilt is PINK! I love it - it's so bright and happy.

2. UFOs! UnFinished Objects. I got all but one item on the list, which is a 2-layered fleece blanket. What I DID finish was
- Adam's pajama pants
- a blue Fairy Tale dress (pattern from Oliver+S) that was a "draft" for RG's baptism dress that was taking too long
- the Pink Babies quilt
- the Grandma C heritage quilt
- a denim messenger bag
- edging a fleece blanket for JK's bed since she moved up to a twin last February

3. Curtains for the girls' bedrooms. Nope. The fabric has been sitting here literally since the day we moved into the house and I've just never done it.

4. Alphabet Challenge. I wanted to do at least 4 letters. I got 6 - H, I, J, K, L, M. Yay! The list is on the Challenge page - no need to repeat it all here. And N is started.

Other things I sewed in 2016:
- three rope baskets
- I started cutting 2.5 inch squares for a postage stamp quilt. I sewed 3 blocks together and need to redo one of them because it's all wonky. Still learning.
- I started cutting some purple/cream/green fabric I was given for another potential quilt. Didn't get very far with it.
- the doll basket from Made Everyday for JK's birthday gift
- a bunch of mini pillows from scrap fleece for camping and travel
- felt bags for Easter egg hunts (same as the trick or treat bags I made a few years ago, except in spring colors with Easter egg decorations)
- an Artemis dress for SM's mythology birthday party - Playtime dress pattern from O+S. It's my go-to pattern for a lot of things.
- about 10 pairs of shorts in June for the girls. It was a mix of daytime and pajamas shorts, depending on the fabric. Pajamas are made from flannel. One of the shorts even got a top with it!
- a couple of t-shirt dresses and skirts for the girls
- more felt trick or treat bags as a craft project for TA's birthday party
- a last minute Colonial coat for a fife and drum corps as part of the Hartford Temple Cultural Celebration. That was a crazy couple of days - I was asked to make it 5 days before the performance.
- 3 white handkerchiefs for the Hartford Temple dedication. I made SM and RG handkerchiefs from scraps from their baptism dresses. Mine was from scraps from their baptism dresses, the other girls' baby blessing dresses, and a square from my wedding. Very significant and meaningful.
- I redid the stitching on the edge of SM's baby blanket.
- 2 tote bags for Christmas gifts - Mom and Tawnia.
- 2 fleece baby blankets for new nieces.

And for fun, I used up 9 spools of thread.

Considering I did that truckload of lanyards and togas in July ... this list covers a lot of territory! I'm happy with it!


2017 PLAN
We're doing a major home project in the first half of the year - remodeling our kitchen. We're hosting a family reunion here (yes, at our house) for what will end up being most of the month of July with lots of people in and out at various times, so we have a June 1 deadline to get everything ready. I also want to repaint a lot. An expansion of our back deck is on the list, but may or may not happen.

I don't really have a sewing list for this year - I'm just taking things as they come. I've actually started on the bedroom curtains for the girls - whoa! Shocker! - and will get them done before doing anything else.

SM and RG want their quilts by their birthdays in May and October. I started cutting SM's fabric during a family movie night, and did some designing on graph paper.

JE has decided that she hates dresses and skirts (yes, she is my clone) and is complaining A LOT about getting dressed for church. So I told her I'll make her a split skirt - it's actually pants but it looks like a skirt. Aren't we sneaky! TA says she wants a pair too. O+S to the rescue!

08 January 2017

new recipes 2016

After completing my first 100 new recipes in 2015, I wasn't planning on doing another 100.  But I enjoy finding and trying new recipes so I kept track of things this year.  Early pregnancy sickness made a few months very unproductive in the kitchen, so I'm ending the year with 82 new recipes.  Instead of focusing so much on Pinterest and online recipes, I used a lot of our cookbooks - Jamie Oliver, Michael Smith, Rob Rainford, and a LOT from various Company's Coming books (especially Mostly Muffins and Mexican Made Easy).

I'm not going to share the whole list, because over a quarter of them came from non-online sources, and some of the others were not things I'd particularly want to make again.  So here are some of the highlights of my 2016 cooking adventures!  (All of which will be added to the recipe directory at the top of the page.)

Greek Yogurt Pizza Crust - two ingredients. My new go-to for pizza crust.
Avocado Lime Ice Cream
Apple Fritter Rings
Roasted Sweet Potatoes - a favorite way to enjoy sweet potatoes.
Spanakopita
Hot Lime Avocado - I use our toaster oven and chipotle hot sauce.
Macaroni Cups
Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies - I made a gluten free version. Can also be carrot.
Beef and Broccoli Stir-fry
Tortillas - a little time consuming, so half batches for our small family.
Meatball Sliders - we've made this multiple times now.
Pork Pineapple Skewers
Spaghetti Carbonara
One Pot Taco Pasta
Pigs in a Blanket - Daddy's specialty.
Mini Lasagna Cups
Fried Rice
Crab Apple Sauce - many many batches of this are in our freezer.
Peach Blackberry Crisp - faster to make than the pie we used to do.
Zucchini Breadsticks - I was surprised by how yummy these were!
Cake Batter Truffles
Banana Coconut Muffins - really really yummy without being too sweet.
Spinach Souffle
Pumpkin Pie Granola - my own recipe!
Lasagna Roll-Ups - a great meal for the freezer and I can defrost smaller portions.
Pumpkin Souffle - YUM. Like crustless pumpkin pie.
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins - one of the best pumpkin muffin recipes I've tried.
Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

Pumpkin Pie Granola

I am one of those people that jumps on the "pumpkin spice" band-wagon each fall.  It smells amazing and tastes delicious.  I ended up making five new pumpkin recipes in 2016.  It doesn't help that I buy big cans of pumpkin so I have to make multiple items to use up the whole can.

One of my favorite new recipes was my own creation of Pumpkin Pie Granola, which was inspired by this recipe.  The biggest thing I learned was NOT to stir the granola to make it all clustery and extra amazing.  It was a granola revelation.  I will use this method for all granola-making in the future because it just makes better granola.  So on with the recipe ....

In a small saucepan on medium-low heat, stir together the following for five minutes:
  1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  1/2 cup honey
  3 tablespoons oil

Take off the heat and add:
  2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large bowl stir together:
  3 cups old fashioned oats
  1 1/2 cups bran cereal
  1 cup shredded coconut
  1 cup slivered almonds
  1/4 cup ground flax seed
  2 tablespoons chia seeds

Pour pumpkin mixture over it and stir until combined.
Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.
DO NOT STIR until it has cooled, and then store in an air-tight container.

30 December 2016

MY FIRST QUILT!!!

It has taken me a looooong time to do this, mostly because I kept setting it aside to work on other projects ... but IT'S DONE! This is my first quilt that I've done EVERYTHING on! All the piecing, the borders, the quilting, and the binding.

I've heard the pattern called hobo rails or rail fence. It's sets of 3 strips alternating directions. I quilted it diagonally across the squares and it completely changed the look of the whole thing. I'm totally excited about it - I actually made a whole twin-sized quilt!

When I first finished the top ... a year ago ... I've worked on a lot of other things since then before getting back to it.

DONE! With giggly helpers not quite holding it up the way I'd like ... but oh well.

JE wrapped up in her new quilt - warm and cozy for winter!

29 December 2016

M is for Mommy Made It

For Christmas a couple of years ago, Adam had Mindy design me a little logo label for the clothes I make for the girls, which says "Mommy Made It." Apparently, he was asking one of the girls about her outfit one day, and the response was, "Mommy made it."


This fall/winter, SM needed a new church dress anyway and she wanted one with long sleeves. I told her to go through my patterns and she chose the Book Report Dress from Oliver + S. She wanted it to be red and gold for Christmas but something that she could wear all winter and we landed on this at Hobby Lobby.

There are a number of smaller details like pleats, cuffs, and pockets along the waist that blend in to the whole look because I made it in one fabric, rather than using different fabrics for the various pieces. This is a size 10, lengthened by about 5 inches. Probably should have made a 12 - I think she's only going to get one season to wear this.

28 December 2016

2016 Sewing Review / 2017 Plans

2016 Completed Sewing Projects
  • reusable Christmas drawstring bag
  • hemming or repairing x22
2017 Goals
I didn't have a goal list for 2016 and still got a lot done, but it is nice to have a checklist to look at at the end of the year.  As a disclaimer: I'm not sure how creatively productive my 2017 will be - I've got my second baby due in February, but then Cupcake will be starting Kindergarten in the fall.  And after years and years of drawing, sewing has become my creative-outlet of choice, but I would like to make more of an effort to draw along with my sewing.
  • Complete the Sew All 26 Challenge.  I know we never set a deadline, but I only have 6 letters left!  And I already have a plan for the letter Z - a zipper pouch made entirely of zippers!
  • ironing board cover - in our small apartment (and about to feel a lot smaller) I've been using a wooden TV tray with a towel on top as my makeshift ironing board.  Time to upgrade a bit and make a decent cover for the tray for future use.
  • camera case - nothing fancy or big, but it would be nice to keep my camera more protected when I carry it in my purse.
  • Flannel Rag quilt - I spent a day getting all the squares cut out, it's just waiting to get put together.  A February deadline would be smart!
  • baby girl dresses - not only do I have a new baby girl on the way, but I have two friends due with girls as well.  It is smart sewing to make things in batches, so if I'm making one dress, why not make three?  And handmade gifts are always appreciated.
  • Maggie Mae and Glass Onion tops - I bought these patterns last year and haven't had the chance to make them yet.  And I have purple sheep fabric that Cupcake is begging me to use.
  • denim purse - a friend gave me a LOT of squares for my I-Spy quilt (after I inspired her to make her own) and requested that I make her a bag (like one I had made myself) in return.  
  • more quilting - there's a stack of white squares ready for a baby I-Spy quilt; I want to do more string quilting; maybe learn paper piecing; and I've got a jelly roll waiting to be used as well.

Quilts

Instead of trying to go back and catch up with all the posts I haven't done, I'm moving on.  Time to post my two biggest project of the year: my first two quilts!

I was given a single strip of the animal print a few years ago, and knew I wanted to make a baby strip quilt from it.  After finding out my next baby will be a girl, I was inspired.  It was very simple to put together, which was perfect for my very first quilt.  I learned quickly that I needed a walking foot, and only had to visit three different stores to find someone that could help me (since my machine is rather old, but simple).  I used basting spray for the sandwich - a bit expensive but a huge time saver (and I don't have basting pins), and I had enough left for my second quilt (possibly a third if it is small).  It isn't perfect, but I learned a lot, and look forward to doing more complicated projects in the future.


I had been planning on this I-Spy quilt for almost a year - it can take a long time to gather so many different fabrics!!  The first squares were purchased back in February (a charm pack of 40 5-inch squares) but I was given so many more from generous quilting friends.  I still have a small stash left, including a stack of white squares for a future baby version.   
The assembly was pretty straight forward - sew the squares into rows and then sew the rows together.  Big lesson learned: I should have taken more time to work on the placement - there are a few square that irk me, but there's nothing I can do about it now!  I used a grey sheet for the backing (grey is one of Aria's favorite colors because of her Grey Sheepy and it was a good neutral color), and kept it easy on myself and folded it over for the binding as well - machine stitching the binding was so much faster than hand stitching!   
I'm pretty happy with my first two quilts!  The first was an oversized baby quilt, and the second was a bit undersized for a traditional twin - and still hard to heft on the sewing machine, so I doubt I'll make anything bigger than a twin size for a long while.  There is lots to learn and many different techniques that I want to try - here's to more quilting fun in the future!

27 December 2016

M is for mending box

I don't have a picture of it ... but I finally emptied my mending box. It's been piling up for literally a couple of years and I finally got tired enough of it to deal with it. Here are my stats:

Mended, back into circulation - 33

Need to be mended since then, and now sitting on the table - 4. Since I don't have a mending box anymore, I'm doing much better at just dealing with things as they come up.

Removed from the mending box and just put into donations - about 12. Most of these were shirts I was going to make into t-shirt dresses but are now outgrown by everyone, including Josie. Oops.

Items still waiting for alterations into other items - 7. These are pants into shorts, and dresses into skirts. Lower priority, since the new clothes are for warmer weather.

19 October 2016

L is for lanyards ... lots and lots of lanyards

This is a way-overdue post ... I did L during the summer but couldn't post it until I finished J and K first! K was done kind of at the same time as L, but it took until now (the fall) to backtrack to J.

L is for lots and lots of lanyards. Sixty, in fact. This was my main sewing project for the Activity Days/Faith in God day camp I put together for this summer. Yes, I made every last one myself. I worked on them off-and-on in May and June, but once I had my registration numbers, I really cranked them out in July. I finished the last ones the night before camp started.

Adult leaders: sunflowers, teen junior counselors: the purple/cream in the middle, 11 year olds: green, 10 year olds: purple, 9 year olds: blue, 8 year olds: pink.

I came across this Noodlehead post last winter and instantly decided to make all the lanyards for the name badges instead of buying them. I had some fabric contributed by a friend but most of this was what I had sitting around in my storage room - nothing was purchased except the clips on the ends. There aren't precise directions for the lanyards that I could find, so this is what I did:

1. Cut a strip of fabric 36 inches long and 2 inches wide. This length works for both kids and adults.

2. Press the two edges in just barely, like with bias tape.

3. Fold it in half and press again, so the raw edges are tucked inside. OR, as Mindy pointed out, use a bias-tape maker for all of that. I did try that but wasn't figuring out the bias tape maker, so I did it the longer way.

4. Sew it closed, as close to the edge as possible.

5. Sew it down the folded side as well along the edge, so it matches.

6. Put the ends together, fold over the raw-edge end so it's tucked in, then wrap around the ring on your clip before sewing. I went back and forth about 3 times to make sure it was secure. The ring/clip combos were ordered on Amazon.

One of the lanyards in action, on my own kiddo, when they were decorating cookies and cupcakes to give to the Hartford Temple construction workers.

Additionally, to go on the lanyards, I put together four different clips with felt on alligator clips, to go with the Faith in God sections. The overall theme of the camp was "Stand Tall" and we had a devotional each morning of the camp to go with the three sections of the Faith in God book. I had a lot of help making the clips - I made the yellow triangles with the teeny orange feet myself. I didn't touch the hearts or the flowers - the sister missionaries, a friend, and SM spent an entire afternoon at my craft table getting them all knocked out. I split the temples with the friend. We made about 50 of each clip - we had 30 girls, 6 teen junior counselors, and 17 adult leaders working on various sections of the camp. The clips had narrow grosgrain ribbon hot-glued to the clip, then the felt shape glued onto that - the ribbon helps hold the felt to the clip better (and yes, in the past when making hair clips for my girls, I've left the ribbon off. Mistake.)

Our camp theme: Stand Tall. CLIP: yellow felt triangle, orange cardstock cut with a baby foot punch from the scrapbook section at Hobby Lobby. The Stand Tall/feet theme came from the January 2016 Friend Magazine.

Learning and Living the Gospel - in addition to the devotional, we had an outing to the Hartford Temple. CLIP: Light blue 2x1 rectangle, white felt cut in the temple shape, yellow ribbon at the top, green scrap across the bottom, glitter over the whole thing.

Service - we decorated cookies and cupcakes, and took 90 treats and thank you cards to the construction workers working on the Hartford Temple. CLIP: red or pink felt cut into heart shapes of various sizes, ribbon and lace added with hot glue - just various things from my scrap box.

Developing Talents - as we develop our talents, we become more beautiful like flowers do. CLIP: I've been making this style of felt rose for a long time - here's the tutorial. The flowers were then glued to a wonky random-cut green triangle for the leaves, then glued to the clip.

This day camp was a test run to see if this is something our church group will do regularly. There was an overwhelming positive response from the girls who participated as well as their parents, so we're going to the region level next year. It's been requested that I do the felt clips again, and I should probably spend the winter making another 100+ lanyards!