Sunday, November 29, 2009

did you go?

To see New Moon?
I haven't yet. I probably will. But, honestly, I want to see The Blind Side more. We'll probably see that one first.

Out shopping on Black Friday?
Not me. I've never been. Can you believe that? It kinda scares me. Plus, I have never planned well enough to even go. I'm thinking this isn't a browsing time. And since Greg has to work those Fridays now I'd have to take the kids. No way. As I was reading 'round the net this weekend, though, I read that some people took advantage of sales at Joann's and Michael's. Now that is something I might want to take advantage of next year. It never occurred to me to check those places out for good steals. Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to go.

shop update

I've been working on putting some new items in the shop. Some are from the craft fairs this fall. Some I worked on this weekend.

This isn't all ~ I'll be adding more.

Friday, November 27, 2009

reversible child's apron tutorial

Remember in June when I showed you this stack of fabric and told you a tutorial would be coming soon? Well, the definition of soon is really relative, don't you think? During our first ventures in canning in June, I thought it would be nice for the kids to have fancy-schmancy aprons to wear. I totally winged it and now you are benefitting from that since I photographed the whole process.

You will need:
  • 1 yard for the front
  • 1 yard for the back
  • 1/2 yard for ties ties and ruffle
  • 2-3 inches of velcro

This is more fabric than you will actually need, but I like to err on the side of too much fabric and make something else out of the scraps. You can get by with 3/4" of fabric for the front and back. You can even do it with a half yard if you unfold the fabric and fold it the other way. When you buy the fabric it is folded in half with selvedges edges opposite the fold. To use a smaller amount of fabric, refold the fabric so the cut edges are opposite the fold and the selvedge edges are perpendicular to the fold. Or go wild and just buy the whole yard!

I started off with a child's size apron the kids have. The lady at Joann's told me about this pattern making fabric. I thought I'd try it for this project. I love it. I don't remember what it's called, but I bet if you tell the fabric cutters what you are looking for they will be happy to help you. It feels like interfacing without the iron-on bumps. You can pin it a bunch and it doesn't rip like pattern paper.

Anyway, I folded the apron in half and marked out half an inch from all the straight sides for the seam allowance.

Connect all the dots and cut out the pattern piece.

I thought the top of the apron we had already wasn't wide enough. I measured on the kids to see what I thought it should be, extended the width, then drew the arc from the edge of the top to the edge of the lower part where the tie goes.

What do you mean you don't have a child's apron laying around to trace? Well, hopefully these measurements will help you.

This drawing is not to scale in any way.

Cut two on the fold. I layered the two fabrics (front and back) and cut out both at once.

Then cut your strips for the ties and ruffle. You will need strips measuring:
  • neck straps - 9 1/2" x 2 1/2" - cut 2
  • waist ties - 21" x 2" - cut 2
  • ruffle - 22" x 5" - cut 1

For the ruffle, fold the fabric in half long ways, right sides together, and stitch the short ends closed.

Clip the inside corner, turn it right side out, and press. Use a turning stick to make sure the corner is nice and crisp.

Using the longest stitch on your machine, stitch at 1/4" from the raw edge. Leave long tails of thread for pulling. Fold in half long ways and place a pin to mark the center.

Pull the strings to gather the ruffle.

Find the center of the bottom of one of the apron pieces and mark it with a pin. Now pin the ruffle to the right side of the bottom with raw edges and center pins matching.

Pin the end of the ruffle slightly over 1/2" away from the side of the apron front so it will not get caught in the seam when you sew the front and back together.

Sew the ruffle to the bottom of the front piece of the apron with a 1/4" seam.

For the neck straps and waist ties, fold in half long ways, right sides together and stitch both long sides and one short side. Clip corners, turn right side out, press, and top stitch.

Matching raw edges, attach the neck ties to the top of the apron front slightly over 1/2" from the edge with a 1/4" seam.

Matching raw edges, attach the waist ties to the side of the apron front slightly over 1/2" from the top of the side with a 1/4" seam.

After the ties have been secured to the apron, I like to use a safety pin to hold them in place while I sew the apron pieces together. This way they don't accidentally get caught in the seam which would require seam ripping and nasty sailor talk.

Safety pin the edge of the ruffle out of the way too. Be careful how far you fold that corner down, though so doesn't get caught in the bottom seam.

Make a little apron sandwich by placing the back of the apron over the front, right sides together. Pin.

Stitch all the way around with a 1/2" seam, leaving a hole for opening. I like to leave my hole midway up one of the sides. A 4" hole is usually nice for turning. Clip the corners and notch the armhole area.

Turn the apron right side out and use a turning stick to make the corners crisp. I also run the turning stick along each seam to make sure it is turned out well. Press. Topstitch.

Sew the velcro pieces onto the neck straps. Sew one facing the front and the other facing the back.

Ta-da! You are all done. These aprons make the perfect gift. Heather has taken them to three birthday girls this school year.

Of course, we couldn't part ways without the obligatory model shot. Don't mind the fact that the kids are in their jammies and have bed head. This size apron easily fits kids of several sizes/heights. The pattern can easily be adjusted by adding or subtracting an inch (or whatever) to the bottom or side.

The kids love to wear their aprons when we are canning or anytime they cook with us. When they put them on I hear them deciding out loud which side they will wear that day. Hey look, jammies again. We enjoy jammie time in our house!

So what are you waiting for? Go make a cute apron for a little girl for Christmas! Or birthday! Or just because! If you make one, I'd love to see it.

This post is being linked to Kimba's Do It Yourself Day.

giving thanks

We hosted the Thanksgiving feast this year. This turned out to be a different kind of Thanksgiving in several ways.

To begin with, we cleaned, but we were not as worried about it being perfect as we might have been in the past. Sure there were clean toilets for our guests, but there might have been dust in the corner. I'm thinking it was ok. The kids helped clean a lot this time. I forced them to *Cinderella mop* the tile.

Next up ~ new recipes. I have a habit of trying out a new recipe for the first time on guests or to take to a potluck at school. I make something new and hope to high heaven it tastes decent. This can get me in a little bit of a bind at the last minute if the recipe isn't working as planned. This year I planned on making homemade crescent rolls. But! I practiced a week ago on Greg & the kids. I have not always been wildly successful with yeasty things in the past, so this required a test run. Good thing I did, too. Although my test rolls turned out quite scrumptious, they were HUGE! And I followed the recipe. If you want to make them yourself, you can follow this recipe. I divided my dough into four instead of two, then cut them into twelve pieces. They turned out just right! Now that I have new found yeast success, I'm trying a loaf of bread next!

I decided to try a pie crust recipe that I found online. I've made my own pie crust before using the food processor and it turned out well. This recipe used the old school pastry cutter way. Wednesday night, I ended up making five pie crust batches to get the crusts for the two pumpkin pies. In the end, it was the food processor crust that was successful.

Then as I was starting to unwrap the turkey to rinse its insides, I mentioned to Greg that it was going to be a delicate dance to get the turkey out of the oven and cook all the other stuff that needed to go in the oven. He mentioned something about the fact that one day we should try cooking the turkey on the grill. I laughed and told him that we were discussing grilled turkey the other day at lunch. Next thing I knew we were skewering that bad boy and setting up the rotisserie rig to cook it on the grill. At.the.last.minute! We looked up a recipe online and found out that it would take no longer on the grill than in the oven. Then, all that oven space was freed up for other thankful goodness. To be honest we wavered from "it's going to be great" to "good thing we also have a ham." The turkey turned out a.m.a.z.i.n.g! It was so juicy and flavorful. Many people came by to snag a sample as Greg's dad was carving. Just the one bite put a look of pure rapture on their faces.

We have hosted Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner many times before. We learn something new each time. We think of ways to make the next time better. We forget to serve stuff. I made my family's traditional Aunt Nell's Salad. I realize that this is not a well-loved dish for many of our guests, but it's important to me so if you are here at Thanksgiving or Christmas, it will be on the table. Except as I was putting away the leftovers, I spied the yellow plastic bowl FULL of the salad that we forgot to set out. That's ok, Heather and I will eat it.

This Thanksgiving, as always, we were thankful for the friends and family who filled our house and those who were filling other houses. We have so much to give thanks for in our lives.

Now, if you'll excuse me, pumpkin pie is for breakfast!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

welcome, little one

My new niece, Olivia May, was born last week. Word has it that she already has Daddy wrapped around her little finger. Mom is doing well, but I didn't think she'd appreciate her hospital picture plastered all over the net.

Apparently, Daddy isn't the only one smitten with little Olivia. Carter is adoring her too.

Time to step up and be the big brother. I can tell already that he will be her fierce protector. I pity any boys who come near her when she is older.

Sweet and precious. I can't wait to be able to see her!

Welcome to the world, baby Olivia. We're glad to have you here!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

i've completely lost all sense of reason now

I keep telling the kids they are not allowed to use the permanent markers in the downstairs drawer. I know that's mean. But, I don't need to find them uncapped and bleeding on the carpet. I don't need to find writing that "accidentally" happened...anywhere! They are allowed to use all of their supplies ~ crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc. all they want.

So just now I heard them in Heather's room saying something about writing on something. I called them in to ask what they were writing on. Stephanie held up a zip top bag and explained what they were doing. On it I saw a blue marker, so I just had to ask if they had the Sharpie. Yes.

I went nuts. I hollered. Loud. I am completely kicked out of the Mother of the Year contest now! Dang!

Then came the coup de gras. I told them if I ever caught them with the permanent markers without permission I would draw a mustache on them and make them go to school like that. I repeated it just so they'd know I meant it.

Stop laughing.

Give me strength!

I think I need a sedative.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

there have been better posts than this

I'm blank. My mind is just mush.

I feel like I'm out of important things to say. Not enough for a real blog post.

I'm working on a tutorial for you ~ but it's not ready yet.

I've been busy, but don't seem to have much to show for it.

Here's what's been going on this past week:

  • I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. Monday morning to finish a book. I was very sad to see 4:30 a.m. roll around.
  • I started and finished another book since Monday night.
  • Parent/Teacher conferences were this week. I had 100% attendance from my parents. They all wanted to come see the crazy woman their kids spend the day with.
  • Greg and I went to Parent/Teacher conferences for Stephanie and Heather. Their teachers had such nice things to say about them and they both got straight As. Yay, girls!
  • I dropped off my crafts to a home holiday boutique and hoped for the best.
  • I got to snuggle Suzanne's baby two days in a row. He loves his Auntie Andrea.
  • I worked a shift at the boutique on Friday night. I helped these three older ladies buy lots of stuff by taking their stuff up to the front so they'd have free hands to fill up again. I looked for matching items for them. They were pretty funny. Not one of the items they bought was something I made.
  • I took the kids to a skating birthday party today after I spent the better part of the morning goofing off and sewing the birthday girl her very own apron.
  • I fetched my items from the boutique tonight. I came home with less than I took. I'll find out later this week how well I fared.
  • Tomorrow I'm cleaning like a mad woman in preparation for the Thanksgiving feast that will be at our house this year. I'm still working out the menu. I'd like to try some new stuff this year. Brussels sprouts anyone? hee hee
  • Stephanie has D.A.R.E. graduation this coming week. How did she get old enough for this?
  • Stephanie also has her winter program this week. She's singing in the choir. I will be misty-eyed in the audience. It's so early because we won't have school in December.
  • I am counting down the days (3 school days left) until track break. Then? Oh glorious track break! We won't go back to school until January. Hot diggety!
That's all for now.

Friday, November 13, 2009

don't forget

Don't forget! Tassels are on sale in my Etsy shop until December 15th. Just enter TASSEL10 in the comments and I will refund 10% of the purchase price. Hurry on over!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

180 acceptable days

There are 180 acceptable days for school nightmares in my book. Well, not really. But if they are bound to happen, it will be best on those days.

When I have the day off (thanks, military guys) and go back to bed after Greg leaves the house at an ungodly hour of o'dark-thirty I should not have school nightmares.

I should not be forced to endure the mind movie that I showed up for parent-teacher conferences (scheduled for next week) to find out that someone trashed my classroom, more specifically my desk, meaning could not find a thing I needed. One of the moms from last year (great mom~great kid) came by to tell me that she needed her conference early because they are moving (because that is totally realistic to give repeated conferences to former students). Then when I tried to print her child's report card my computer wires looked like a ball of yarn after a cat party. Oh, and I could not remember the computer log on. Joy, joy, joy.

The upside to this story is that I woke up and remember that I have the day off and conferences aren't until next week! Woohoo! Plenty of time to get those report cards printed out.

What is the moral of this dream? Maybe I should clean my desk at school.

We'll see.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

checkbook cover tutorial

A checkbook cover makes a cute little gift! There are a few tutorials around, but I thought I'd share with you how I make mine.

You will need:

  • 1 front - 7 x 7 1/2 (grey floral)
  • 1 lining - 7 x 1/2 (grey and black)
  • 2 pockets - 7 x 6 1/2 (yellow)

Iron-on interfacing
  • 1 - 6 1/4 x 7 1/4
  • 2 - 6 1/4 x 2 1/4

I like to cut my interfacing a quarter of an inch, or so, smaller than the pieces it will go on to reduce bulky seams. It doesn't have to be perfect either.

Fold the pocket pieces in half, wrong sides together along the 6 1/2 side. You will end up with a piece that is 7 x 3 1/4. Press.

If you are going to add an applique, now is the time to do that. Just be sure that whatever you add it at least 1/2" from the edge so it still shows nicely when you are done.

Iron interfacing onto the two pocket pieces (on the inside) and the front. Be sure to press it well and get out all of the wrinkles. And by all means, make sure the sticky side is next to the fabric, not your iron. Not that I did that or anything.

Line up the raw edge of the pocket to the 7" edge of the lining, right sides together. Stitch close to the edge making sure your seam is less than 1/4" from the edge. Line up the other pocket on the other 7" edge and stitch.

When I want a seam that is less than 1/4" I use this groove on my presser foot. On mine there are three, with the middle one indicating where the needle follows. I also use this groove when topstitching close to the edge of my finished work.

Make a sandwich of the lining/pockets and the front, right sides together. Stitch all the way around, leaving an opening for turning. Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and ending of your seam. I like to leave the opening on the 7" side that will be the back of the checkbook.

Leave as much room as you need for comfortable turning. I always make mine a little smaller than I should, then swear a little while turning.

Clip the corners to reduce bulk. Turn it inside out. Use a turning stick or chopstick to push the corners out as crisply as you can. I also like to run my turning stick along each seam to open the seam and reduce folding while pressing.

Press. While pressing, fold under the opening as neatly as you can. You will close this up when you top stitch. Pin closed for now.

Top stitch all the way around. Press again. Fold in half & press again.

I'd love to see the one you make!

This is the part of the tutorial where there is sometimes a disclaimer about only using this tutorial for personal use. Blah, blah, blah. Um, I don't care if you use this tutorial to make checkbook covers for your own personal financial gain. You can make them for craft shows, sell online, or whatever! Make stuff and be happy! When I don't want you to know how I made stuff, I won't show you how I do it. How's that?

Of course, if you don't want to make your own, you can get one from my Etsy shop. I'll be adding more options soon.

not what i should be doing

I should be cleaning house and doing laundry. Hmpf, what else is new? We have some new dust bunnies that have moved in. They've overstayed their welcome.

I have 15 and a half more comments of brilliant insight to write on report cards ~ due tomorrow. I have 16 students.

Instead, I am working on this. I got an order for 11 checkbook covers. I'm making 16 for her to choose from and the rest will go in a craft show in two weeks. The fabric is cut out and the appliques are sewn on. Now I will iron on interfacing and construct them.

I will probably take a nap today.

Maybe I will bake some banana bread (but don't get your hopes up, Greg).

But most of all, I will not worry about what doesn't get done.

How about you?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

the one where we try to be spooky

We have a family tradition of carving pumpkins the night before Halloween. Friday ~ ahem, which was the night before Halloween ~ it occurred to me that we never bought pumpkins. I'm really on top of stuff, I tell you. So on the way home from spending the afternoon with Suzanne, we stopped by the grocery store to buy some pumpkins. The only ones left were quite large! This is nice except they have very thick rinds, which proved to be somewhat of a challenge later on.

One thing led to another and before I knew it the clock was saying 8 o'clock. We still hadn't started mutilating those orange beasts. I talked the girls into doing it in the morning. Heather was trying to be a die-hard and wanted to stay up Friday night and get the job done. Bless her heart, her eyelids were already giving away that her energy was just about over for the day. Finally, she agreed.

I tell you what! That was one of the best calls! In the morning we had lots of time to work on the pumpkins. I wasn't rushing them to finish so they can get in bed. No one was cranky because they were ready for bed. I cut the tops off for them and then let them have at it. I supervised, but not too closely so I didn't bug them about the mess they were making. It was joyous! No fighting even.

And then.

I told the kids the pumpkins had really thick rinds so they'd have to make sure they cut all the way through before attempting to push the pieces out. Stephanie struggled to get the pieces out. By the time she got to the mouth she'd had enough. She was having a meltdown so I sent her away from the table. She gave herself a timeout in the shower. Heather finished the mouth for her sissy.

When all was said and done, I don't even think Stephanie looked at her completed, cleaned up pumpkin until much later in the day.

Still ~ given the opportunity, I'd do this in the morning again anytime.

After waiting a-l-l day, it was finally time to get dressed up. The eyes turned out to play an important role in each costume.

Heather's latest missing tooth (yes, again) was perfect for her costume.

I wouldn't want to meet this witch in a dark alley with a look like that! She's been spending too much time with her teacher mama, I think.

Oh, yeah, we're bad and tough. Ha!

This little monster came to go trick-or-treating with us. He's so ferocious! Watch out, he just might drool on you!

Suzanne and Dustin brought Aiden over to spend his first Halloween with us. He didn't know what was going on, really. But we were glad to be a part of it with him.

After a full evening of trick-or-treating Greg and the kids spread themselves out on the floor for the candy inspection. After the inspection, the girls spent about half an hour making candy trades with each other. It was almost as complicated as the stock market! Greg refereed the candy trading to make sure nobody got swindled. He also told them that since it was Halloween they could eat as much candy as they wanted either before or after dinner. He warned them, though, that if they made themselves sick they had only themselves to blame. They consumed more candy than they normally would have, but still practiced moderation. No belly aches.