Friday, October 9, 2015

Flashback Friday: Embellishing Burp Cloths

Here's this week's Flashback Friday where I dig up an old post. If you haven't seen it before, then it's new to you! In honor of the newest addition to my family, I'm highlighting a simple, baby-related sewing project. 

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Pressing and Straight Stitch Sewing
Embellished Burp Cloth
Supplies:

  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors (or rotary cutter and mat)
  • Plain burp cloths/cloth diapers (Gerber and Dundee both make plain white cloths with three panels)
  • Coordinating thread
  • Decorative fabric 

Have you ever walked through a store, saw something that you really liked, and thought, "I could totally make that"? I had that thought when I received an adorably embellished burp cloth as a baby shower gift. So, this week, I will show you how to embellish a burp cloth using a plain, three-fold cloth diaper and some decorative fabric. This is a straight-forward, simple sewing project that requires minimal supplies, yet the finished product has that extra pizazz sure to impress.

Embellishing an existing product is a great way to get your feet wet in the world of sewing. You don't have to start from scratch, and the most difficult steps are behind you. Rather, you can focus on your creative side and turn a blasé item into something unique with your own style. So, let's get started!




1. Measure the center panel of your burp cloth, and cut your fabric 1" longer and 1" wider than the size of the center panel. In this example, I used Dundee burp cloths, so the center panel measures 21" by 4", so I cut my decorative fabric 22" by 5". 

Cut decorative fabric 1" wider and 1" longer
than the center panel of burp cloth
2. Lay the fabric wrong-side up on the ironing board and press over each edge 1/2 inch.  Press the fabric on all four sides. 
Press over 1/2" on all four sides
3. Pin the fabric on the center panel of the burp cloth. Place pins approximately every 3 - 4 inches to secure the fabric. 


Place pins ever 3 - 4" to secure fabric

4. Sew a straight stitch around all the edges of the fabric to secure the fabric on the burp cloth. When you reach each corner, place the needle in the down position before you pivot the fabric to begin sewing on the next edge to ensure a continuous seam. Try to sew as close to the edge of the fabric as possible as this will give the finished burp cloth a more professional look. I used a 1/8" seam allowance (see picture below). Sew around all four sides until you reach the beginning. Remember to use a back-stitch at the beginning and end of your stitching to create a knot.


Use a 1/8" seam allowance


Easy as that!



Finished Burp Cloth

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Freezer Meal: Burritos


Skills Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Freezer Meal
Supplies/Ingredients:

  • Tortilla Shells (10")
  • Meat (1 pound): chicken, ground beef, or ground chicken (et al.)
  • Taco Seasoning (1 packet)
  • Burrito Filling Ingredients: shredded cheese, sour cream, diced tomatoes, diced peppers, minced jalapeños, salsa, and guacamole (et al.)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Freezer Bags
  • Crockpot or Pot (to cook meat)
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Large Spoon

As I prepared for my third baby's arrival, I "nested" in a different way than in times past by stocking my freezer full of meals. I made some lasagna, chicken pot pies, and egg sandwiches, to name a few. One staple I try to keep in the freezer all the time is a hearty supply of burritos. They are a great lunch option and reheat in the microwave quickly. I don't have a specific recipe, but I'll share with you the basic method. 




Cook the meat. Use ground beef, ground turkey, chicken breast, and/or shredded pork or beef. If you prefer a more hands-off cooking method, use a crock pot. Simply put a pound of meat into the crock pot with a packet of taco seasoning mix and a few tablespoons of water. Depending on the meat, cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5 hours. Break up or shred the meat when it's completely cooked through.


Mix together the burrito "filling" ingredients with the meat in a large bowl. This is where you can get creative and add the type and quantity of mix-ins you like. I truly eyeball the amounts.  Here are a few things I like to use: shredded cheese, sour cream, diced tomatoes, diced peppers, minced jalapeños, salsa, and guacamole. I leave out any kind of lettuce as I don't think the freeze-thaw process will treat the lettuce very well (but I haven't tried). Mix everything thoroughly together.  Unfortunately, this step doesn't produce the most appetizing result, but I like it because the ingredients are spread uniformly throughout the burrito.  No one wants to eat all their guacamole in one bite.  Also, it makes it much less labor intensive to assemble. 

Assemble the burritos in the tortilla shells; fold up the shells; and wrap with aluminum foil. Ten inch shells work the best, but you can use whatever size tortilla you'd like. Fold the tortillas by bringing up the bottom end over the filling, turn the sides in, and then roll the shell towards the top. Wrap the burrito with aluminum foil. If you need a demonstration, head to Chipotle.







Store burritos in a freezer bag in the freezer for 4-6 months. To reheat, unwrap the burrito from the aluminum foil, wrap the burrito in a damp paper towel, and heat it in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.



This is a quick, simple meal you can grab on the run. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Things My Brother Taught Me: Happy Birthday, Bro!

Leslie & Evan (1985)
Today is my little brother's birthday, so I wanted to give a special shout out to him by highlighting "Things My Brother Taught Me". Most of you probably don't know my brother, but if you met him, you would see he's super chill (like the opposite of me) and knows how to make lemonade out of lemons (again, like the opposite of me). Although my laid back, optimistic, carefree brother may not have taught me how to sew a button or make a mean apple pie, he's taught me some invaluable life lessons:

It's far better to give than to receive. 


Since my brother was a preschooler, I remember his generous heart. My mom and dad would give him money for candy at the concession stand while we watched my older brother's [boring] tee-ball games. Most kids would totally cash that in for Air Heads, Jolly Ranchers, or bubble gum. Nope, my little bro would give his candy money away so other kids could enjoy something sweet at the concession stand. Now, I see his unselfish spirit on display by his commitment to his lifelong friends.

Don't be afraid to be yourself. 


God's sense of creativity shines through when he made my brother; he is like no one else I've ever met. He has a magnetic personality that people are drawn to (and often puzzled by;). He is unabashedly fearless to be himself in any and all situations. This is one quality I hope for my children. If only we could live boldly and unafraid for the things we believe and our interests. The sooner this lesson is learned, the better, I say. 


Always have fun! 


As a more tightly-wound, controlling person, my brother showed me that life is too short to try to plan and prepare for everything. Embrace the unknown and spontaneity. I can't think of a better example than the time I went to visit him in Hawaii when we were both in college over Thanksgiving break. (Yes, a midwestern boy going to the University of Hawaii for college -- just another way his spontaneity, fearlessness, and fun-loving spirit comes through!) We didn't plan for a single thing that week, and I've never been on a more fun trip!

Thanks, Little Bro, for all the intangible, invaluable lessons you've taught me. Happy birthday!  

Monday, September 7, 2015

Backpack, Backpack


This post is in honor of my kids heading off to preschool today! If you have young children, you maysing the title of this post in the tune from the show "Diego". If you don't, you aren't missing out on much, so don't worry about it;) Since I try to be supermom in a few things, I decided to make my sons' first backpacks. I sewed my eldest son's bag when he turned two. Of course, subsequent children always get slighted (speaking as a middle child:), and I intended to make my second son's backpack for his second birthday. Well, that was nine months ago, and he started preschool today. I decided better late than never...

Per my previous post, I'm lacking energy and ambition lately (I won't even say I'm lacking time, because that's not true. I feel like I have tons of time. Some days I'm really bored, but I'm nine months pregnant and tired running after two rambunctious boys!), so you'll just get some photos of the backpacks rather than a tutorial. I guess I have to leave the masses wanting, right? hehe. 

In all honesty, I'm really not supermom. I yell at my kids, burn dinner, and rip out seams in my sewing projects. I try to do a few special things for my kids, but no one can do it all. I realize certain things are more important to some moms than others. So, my advice: do the things that you enjoy and are important to you. If you love baking and you'd rather make homemade cookies than buy Oreos, great! If not, run to the store for your kids' birthday treats. If you like to sew, then enjoy making your child's Halloween costume rather than buying one from the store. But don't sweat it if you aren't crafty or don't enjoy these kinds of hobbies. We all have our own interests and giftings, and I hope you are able to find time to tap into those things. 

However, if you are interested in the "domestic arts", then I hope you'll find my blog posts simple, informative, and helpful. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Back in the Saddle Again: Why do I do this Blog Thing?

Me Six Months Pregnant
I took a little blogging hiatus over the past few months, and it's caused me to reflect on why I started (or should continue) this blog. The reason why I took a break was nothing more than necessity. I don't tend to write a lot of personal information on this blog, but I have two young boys and another little nugget on the way. My last post was in February (shortly after I found out I was pregnant), and I simply did not have the energy, drive, or interest to keep up with a blog. I was just trying to survive: keep food in the fridge, clean clothes in the drawers, and take a shower at least once a week (you think I'm kidding...ha!). I certainly didn't have the energy for the "extras": i.e., shaving my legs, cooking hot meals, or blogging.

During this blogging sabbatical, I didn't log into my account or really check my blog activity. So, when I finally checked it out a month or so ago I realized that no one really realized I was gone. No, "hey, I miss your blog," or "when will you post more?" Of course, that's a bit of a blow to the ego, but it caused me to reflect upon why I created this blog and, furthermore, ask myself, "should I continue?". 

The original reason why I started the blog was for a creative outlet as a new stay-at-home mom. Isn't that who starts 90% of all blogs? :) I really didn't care if anyone read my posts. I wanted a way to exercise my mind through writing and creativity. Blogging allowed me to do as much or as little as I liked whenever I could squeeze in a few minutes here and there. There wasn't pressure or any real deadlines other than what I imposed on myself. 

When I began this blog, I didn't care if another person read it. It was purely for myself. But, it's sure hard not to get wrapped up in how many followers/views/etc. I have. I find myself comparing my blogging success (or lack thereof) with my peers. I sure wouldn't consider myself a "success" in the blogging world. So, should I continue? 

Now that I've had some time to reflect, I've decided to jump back in the blogging saddle. But, I'm going back to my original intentions. This is for me. Certainly, I do hope that others read and enjoy my DIY projects and domestic tips, but I won't be devastated if no one else joins me. 

Another few reasons I've come to enjoy writing this blog in particular and want to continue:
  • As I recall things my mother actually did teach me, it helps me remember some really great things about my youth.
  • This is a great repository of information that I can pass along to my children...if they are interested.
It may be a slow re-entry into the blogging scene with baby #3 due in a month or so, but I'm leaping back in! I do hope you'll join, but if you don't, I'll still be content capturing all the Things My Mother Taught Me. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Flashback Friday: No Bakes

Here's this week's Flashback Friday where I dig up an old post. If you haven't seen it before, then it's new to you! This is a quick, easy "no bake" dessert that is a real crowd please. Peanut butter and chocolate. Can you really go wrong? :)

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: no-bake cookies
Supplies:
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 T. cocoa
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter (not natural, it won't melt properly)
  • ~3 cups oatmeal (quick oats are best, but I often use old-fashion rolled oats)
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • Medium-Size Sauce Pan
  • Wooden Spoon
  • 2 - Cookie Sheets
  • Parchment/Wax Paper
  • 2 teaspoons

No Bake Cookies are one of my favorite stand-by recipes in my arsenal of desserts. This is such a simple recipe, and for some reason, I generally have all of these ingredients on hand. The peanut butter-chocolate combination pleases any crowd! 

In a medium saucepan on the stove over medium to high heat, melt the butter and then add the sugar, cocoa, and milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. 



Remove the pan from the heat and add the peanut butter and vanilla. (I like to have the peanut butter measured out before the mixture comes to a boil.)  Add these ingredients first and stir so it melts and combines evenly. 





Stir in the oatmeal one cup at a time. The amount of oatmeal you add will depend on how gooey you like the cookies and how long the chocolate mixture cooked. Sometimes I have added as much as 3 3/4 cups of oatmeal. 



Using the teaspoons, quickly drop the cookies onto the waxed paper before the mixture hardens. 


Refrigerate approximately one hour or until the cookies set. 


* * * * * * * * 

Recipe:
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 T. cocoa
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter (not natural, it won't melt properly)
  • ~3 cups oatmeal (quick oats are best, but I often use old-fashion rolled oats)
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • Medium-Size Sauce Pan
  • Wooden Spoon
  • 2 - Cookie Sheets
  • Parchment/Wax Paper
  • 2 teaspoons
  1. In a medium saucepan on the stove over medium to high heat, melt the butter and then add the sugar, cocoa, and milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. 
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the peanut butter and vanilla. 
  3. Stir in the oatmeal one cup at a time. 
  4. Using the teaspoons, quickly drop the cookies onto the waxed paper before the mixture hardens. 
  5. Refrigerate approximately one hour or until the cookies set. 


Check out more posts on my 2014 A to Z Challenge!