14 April 2014

KCW spring

At long last, the FIVE flannel nightgowns are DONE! Hooray! That was my accomplishment for the spring KCW - the last one of the five.

I sewed 4 of the 7 days. The other 3 - I had book group, I had to spend a late night doing various paperwork and bills items, and the 3rd was a really long day working on our yard and transplanting a bunch of things in the front flower bed. The yard is still all torn up with piles of dirt and rocks here and there, but it's going to look really good when it's done! But that's another post.

Anyway - I also spent over an hour at the fabric store getting the fabric for SM's birthday dress and the lining fabric for JE's birthday dress. That's all been washed and JE's pattern has been traced off. The other thing that needs to be done this week is finally taking care of the elastic in the waists of the Easter skirts Mindy made for us (and figuring out tops to go with them for next Sunday - time is getting away from me). So my sewing continues, and that's my April holiday project - birthdays! Two birthday dresses, and then in May, I'm going to do the USA skirts for Memorial Day to get them done. I'll need to think of something other holiday things to work on in June and July.

13 April 2014

KCW Spring

My two shirts for KCW.  I didn't follow the theme, but I did get my holiday challenge done - an Easter peasant shirt with puffy blue sleeves.  I got the directions for the teal ruffle shirt here.  It took a long time - tearing, ironing, hemming, stitching, ruffling, pinning, sewing - times NINE.  I would consider doing a ruffle skirt in the future, but not with so many ruffles.  But it was something I wanted to do, so I'm glad I did it.  It'll be perfect for the summer.

03 April 2014

basic bread recipe

By request, this is what I do to bake bread every 4 or 5 days.

In a really large bowl:
3 cups "hand-hot" hot water - put your hand under the faucet and when it gets hot to the point that you can still put your hand under it but it's getting close to getting too hot, that's where you want it.
4 tsp yeast - I have no idea how many individual packets that would be. We don't buy the packets, we buy it the little jars or the frozen bags.
3/4 cup sugar

Stir them together and put in your oven - turned off, light on - for 10 or 15 minutes until the yeast is foamy.

Add to the bowl:
1 egg
1/3 cup veg oil
3 cups flour
3 tsp salt

Stir it together, then add another 3 cups of flour. The dough will still be pretty runny.

This is when we put it in the mixer for the kneading - we have a food processor with a dough blade (we're still wishing for a Kitchenaid), and we put it in a third at a time and add more flour about a half-cup at a time until the dough gets to the consistency that we want. It's usually 3 or 4 more cups of flour. Adam likes it a bit more sticky than I do. I just watch for it pulling off the sides of the mixer. This can be done by hand - it will just take a bit longer to get everything kneaded in.

We use a mix of regular white flour (unbleached, if that matters to you) and whole wheat flour. I go with 3 or 4 cups of wheat flour and the rest is white. The more wheat flour you add, the lower it will rise and it will be a lot more compact. If you like big poofy loaves of bread, don't use very much wheat flour.

Another hint - sift every bit of flour through a sifter as it's added. We didn't at first but then read something online that suggested it. We tried it and sifting the flour has made a huge difference in how the bread turns out. It's a lot lighter through the loaf.

When all the dough is mixed and kneaded into the consistency that you want, let it rise in the oven, still with the oven turned off and the light on. I don't know why this works to create the appropriate warm temperature for rising bread, but it does. Do this twice - rise, punch down, rise, punch down. This will take a couple of hours.

After the second punch down, separate the dough into 3 loaves and put them in the pans to rise a 3rd time. When they get to the top of the bread pans, you're ready to bake - 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes. And then you're done! Wrap it in plastic wrap to put in the freezer if you want it for later.

This can take 4 or 5 hours with all the rising, so don't expect to have this ready for dinner if you're starting at 4 pm. This is something to start in the morning for lunch or dinner.

01 April 2014

Mindy Creates

I'm not sure why this blog has so many visits, compared to the other blogs I contribute to.  Maybe it's because there are so many contributors, and many of us refer back to here for recipes or links to sewing projects.  Whatever the reason is, I need to put myself in places where I can be seen, so why not here too?

I think that sewing came relatively easy to me because I've always had an artsy/creative side to me.  I draw.  For as long as I've remembered I've liked to draw.  Over the last five or six years I've started to paint a little too.  When I was in middle school I realized that drawing faces was hard, so that's what I decided to focus on. 

This is what I do to help contribute financially to my family - commissioned portraits for every occasion.  New babies and first birthdays, engagements and wedding anniversaries, Mother's day and Father's day, family portraits, pet portraits, and lots of just because portraits.  I've designed cards and wedding announcements and baby announcements.  To see more of my work, visit my blog!

24 March 2014

Living Room Update: Paint

It's been a few months...but I really HAVE been working on our living room update.  Remember where we started?

Dark walls, mismatched furniture, and really the farthest thing from cohesive you can imagine.

I have a wonderful friend who has been helping me with steps along the way to improve...THIS.  Her suggestions were to de-clutter our overflowing bookshelf, repaint, and start perfecting the little homey touches that make the house look a bit more sophisticated.  It hasn't moved as quickly as I've wanted, but I did some cleaning, re-organizing, and sewing.  (The sewing has so far been a flop; I tried to make some natural-colored curtains that ended up being too bulky and colorless for the living room, so it's back to the drawing board there.)  But our biggest change to date has been paint.  She really encouraged me to choose paint that would more unify our rooms (rather than the three colors we had).  She also challenged me to select a darker paint than I was really comfortable with!  But my hubby said it best:  "We decorated your way once before, and we didn't like it.  Let's try it her way."  So...

All parties except me chose the one on the right.  I wasn't even sure about the one on the left!  

We spent our spring break priming and painting with the same good friends who volunteered time to help us refresh the house.  Here's the final product:

And, you know what?  She was RIGHT.  I adore the color, and it made the room completely different. I feel like it's much more unified now.  And I'm eager to start working through the little nuances that will make it look "put together".  I'm going to be on the hunt for perfect curtains, and I need to sew some throw pillows and find a cute blanket.

What do you think?

22 March 2014

peasant shirt

Last week I made a t-shirt dress for myself (like the one I helped Ella with).  This week I made some towel bibs - cut a circle in a dish towel and sew in some ribbing.  And then last night and this morning I followed the instructions on this website to make Cupcake a new shirt.  Although she is only 20 months old, I made her what they call a size 4.  It came together very quickly and I absolutely love it.  The style, the length, the puffy sleeves, the color!  I want to stash the rest of the fabric away to make her another one of these shirts when she grows out of this one.  I could make it longer and turn it into a dress, or add elastic around the bottom or the waist, or lengthen the sleeves - this will definitely be a project to repeat!

14 March 2014

Dr. Seuss!

March holiday!

Even though we're homeschoolers, we still participate in our own way in Read Across America, which is a public school thing where they read Dr. Seuss books and do Dr. Seuss activities for a day. It's to encourage kids to read. We take an entire week of reading loads of books ... which, to be totally honest, is nothing new or different for us. But it's an excuse to set aside "boring" things like math and writing, and just read the whole week for school. This year, we added going to 3 different libraries in surrounding communities rather than our own. Aaaaaand ... we have Dr. Seuss clothes now!

This started as an accident. I was trying to order flannel for a baby blanket, and when the green character print arrived, it was not flannel. Just regular cotton. So I figured I'd make some fun skirts with it, and ordered the stripes and the spots. The stripes are actually from the Dr. Seuss line as well - I don't know if you can tell from the top picture, but the stripes are not clean, straight lines. They're a little bit squiggly. The red criss-cross on the top 2 skirts was something I had bought for another project that also worked with this. I got the Seuss fabric from fabric.com - it's the Celebrate Seuss collection from Robert Kaufman.

The 4 older girls all have tiered skirts - I used the directions in this old post from Craftiness Is Not Optional. SM and JE (#1 and #3) have their middle level wider than the top and bottom, and pockets. RG (#2) has no top yoke, just a ruffle around the bottom. She also wanted pockets. SM's pockets were from the dress pattern I made for the baby, but the other 2 just had squares cut and added. TA (#4) has the closest to the original tutorial with her tiers all even, or at least as even as I could get them. The seam allowances still throw me off a little bit, but I am going to declare the tiered skirt mastered and move on to something else. There are a billion and one skirt ideas out there. I need to not get so stuck on doing the same thing over and over ... even though if you want to use multiple fabrics, tiers are useful for that.

And the baby, down at the bottom, got the Oliver + S ice cream dress. It's my second pattern to use from them. The top cuff on the pockets threw me off a little bit while reading the directions, but once I got over the bump, they came together perfectly and the dress looks great. (The dress also fits TA perfectly as a tunic shirt, so I don't have to trace off another size to make her a top. Yay!)

Happy reading! Our favorite Dr. Seuss books are Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? and The Cat in the Hat. Our favorite Dr. Seuss movie is The Lorax.

06 March 2014

St. Patrick's Day Dress

There are so many things I love about this dress, and a few things that I don't.  I made this dress all by myself - no cheater t-shirts.  I started with a simple bodice pattern, and then tweaked it until I liked it.  I finally got flutter sleeves figured out.  I love the fabric, and the button loops and the green trim. 
Next time I need to make the bodice just a little bit bigger around the middle - it fits better than the shirt did, but it's still a bit of a pain to get on and off.  And most importantly, I need to cut the skirt at an angle, so it is fuller at the bottom - Cupcake struggles to run and play because it is a little constricting. 
I'm sad that it isn't perfect, but I'm still pretty proud of myself.  And I'm aware of the things I need to change for future projects.  Not sure what is next on my list of things to do.  I've been meaning to make myself a tote bag (need a nice big one for the library).  Easter is coming up, so I could work on that project (I have the fabric, not sure what it'll be).  I'm not happy with how all of Cupcake's shirts are becoming too short, so I want to try my hand at peasant tops.  Or I'll take a break until KCW next month and focus on some artwork.


afternoon dress

My friend's daughter, Ella, is being homeschooled this year.  She's been feeling rather lonely, and stuck at home, so I invited her over to my house every Wednesday for hanging out - sewing, drawing, talking about books, doing math, whatever we want.  This is just time for her to get out of the house.  She wanted to make a dress, and brought me some awesome Superman comic fabric to work with.  We were going to attempt a circle skirt, but came to the realization that we didn't have enough fabric.  So instead I came up with a non-pattern (just measured, drew some lines and cut), and it turned out exactly like we wanted.  We used a t-shirt for the top and added a sash in the middle, and we couldn't be happier.  It was finished within a matter of hours.  I drew the pattern, and sewed on the sash, but Ella did everything else.  It is incredibly flattering on her, and it hits the right length just below her knees.  She's going to make a crinoline with our friend Sherry to go underneath it to make it poofy.  I'll have to take better pictures when it is all done.

25 February 2014


Lest anyone think that we have only achievements and success around here ...

1. I had bread rising in the oven yesterday - I turn on just the light of the oven and it warms up the box enough to let the bread rise fairly quickly, rather than have it sitting on the counter in a fairly cold kitchen. I forgot about it when I turned on the oven to preheat for baking a dinner casserole. At 400. I remembered the bread when I opened the oven to put the casserole in. It was crusty on the top and mucked up dough in the middle so there went my 3 loaves of bread for the week. I have to start over today because we're out of bread, and my children eat very little beyond peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

2. Dinner also didn't turn out. I tried a new recipe - a chicken pot pie type of thing, except it was pork and zucchini with Tex-Mex spicing, and cornbread on the top. It tasted okay but didn't look particularly appetizing. I'll finish eating the leftovers but this is definitely not something I will repeat or share the recipe.

3. Adam was baking a lemon torte cake to take to work - I took it out of the oven too early and it was doughy in the middle. Sorry, honey.

4. I'm still working on more flannel nightgowns. On TA's, I was putting the facing on the neckline but it didn't line up at all. I had to take the whole thing apart and do it again. This is still in midstream - I've picked out all the necessary seams, but haven't put it back together again.