Friday, August 28, 2009

Getting Dinner Organized

I don't know about you, but the thought of dinner time can often be a source of stress for me throughout the day--I hate trying to think of 'what to make' for dinner. It will stress me out all day long until I finally come up with something that sounds good, only to realize I don't have the ingredients I need for it and have to start all over again at picking a new meal. Ugh. So anyway, I came across this idea on my cousins blog of having a month long menu planned out. I loved it. Loved it. You just take some time on one day, plan the whole month (or at least a week or two), and then each day, you don't have to worry about what you're going to make... you already know! And once you've got the menus planned, you just write down a list of all the ingredients needed for each meal and take that with you to the grocery store. So nice. So easy.
And since I love to make things all pretty and flourishy (I know... not a word), I came up with some cute shopping lists to make the list writing more fun, along with some nice calendars to make the menu planning more pleasant as well. :) (You would think I have too much time on my hands, but oddly enough I don't. I just spend my time on randomly strange projects). :)
Anyway, I figured since I had these calendars and shopping lists done, I would share them with anyone who chances to come across this blog. :) They're nothing fancy, but I've got a calendar for each month up to February 2010 (and they have little pictures to remind you of any major holidays as well). The "M" is for Main Dish, and then there's a spot for Side Dish 1 and Side Dish 2. I usually only have one side dish, but there's room for a second on the rare occasion.
Well, that's it for me. Enjoy and Happy Eating to you all. :)


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

4th of July T-shirt Wreath - Tutorial

I was trying to think of some fun decor I could make for the 4th of July and as I looked at the empty hook on our front door, it shouted at me, "I need a wreath on me!" (My, what a demanding little hook that is!) :) But it was right. A nice red, white, and blue wreath would look great there. Now, how to make it? I must have seen something on someone's blog that inspired the idea, but for the life of me can't think what or where it was, but I came up with the idea of using some of my old shirts to make the wreath. AND, it just so happened that I had a red, white, and blue shirt in my old give-away pile. Granted, the red wasn't as deep or rich as I would have preferred, but beggars can't be choosers, right? And so, hi-ho, hi-ho it was off to crafting I go. And this is how it came out! I was pretty pleased with it. :)

And the best part??! This was 100% FREE! I had everything I used for this on hand! Nothing beats free decor, right?

So anyway, here's the tutorial...

-1 shirt each of red, white, and blue
-1 wire hanger
-scissors or a rotary cutter (the rotary cutter makes this go SO much faster)
-pliers (I realized after the picture that they were much needed)
-hot glue gun and sticks (again, noticed the need after the picture)
-coordinating ribbons (optional-- I didn't even end up using them)

First, untwist the top of the hanger and straighten it out. Then bend it into a nice circle. I used the rounded hook part of the hanger to make a nice loop for hanging, but you can just make it completely circular if you like. (This is where you'll likely need your pliers- in helping you bend and twist the wire around each other to close off the circle. And once I had my circle and hook in place, I used hot glue at each end of the wire to keep it from being pokey and to help everything stay put.)

Next, cut your shirts into strips that are approximately 1-2" wide by about 6-8" long (you really don't want to go any longer than that). Now, it's not an exact science, so just start cutting away! Also, you will likely only need about 1/2 of the shirt (depending on how big it is) so don't cut everything all at once. Start with half the shirt and then you could potentially save the rest for another project (or at the very least, you've saved yourself from spending unnecessary time cutting extra strips).
(In mine, I used the parts of the shirt that had print on them. I like that it reminds me that the wreath came from some of my shirts. You may not like this and therefore may just want to use the unprinted parts of the shirt.)

Next you just start tying the strips onto the hangar. (Only do a single tie. Double tying to create a knot will leave you with too much bulkiness and the strip stays on just fine without a knot.) Keep tying, keep tying, and when you're tired of that... tie some more. :) There's no rhyme or reason. Just put some strips on there in varying orders until it's a nice, full wreath.
I actually ended up tying some on top of each other once I had gotten all the way around the wreath because it didn't seem full enough to me. So I just kept going until I liked it. :) (This is where you could also add some strips of the ribbon if you wanted. I just didn't want to.) And here it is!
But it still seemed like it was lacking something...

So out came some wooden stars that I had in a drawer, and some white sheer ribbon. I painted the stars red and blue...

hot glued them to the ribbon, and tied the ribbons onto the wreath...

and Ta-Da! It's done!

Happy 4th of July everybody!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Fun

I had a lot of fun making my hubby's Father's Day presents this year (this is the first time I've actually made him something as a present... I think). I came across this tie tutorial from 'the purl bee' and it just got my creative juices flowing. I figured I could make a tie and then have the girls put their handprints on it to add some sweet personalization from them to their daddy. And then I thought it would be cute to not only make a tie, but to also make something for the girls to wear so they could match their daddy when we went to church that day. So the oldest got yet another simple skirt, and the new baby got a cute little hair bow to wear. (I was going to make a skirt for the baby as well, but I ran out of time and needed something fast, so in came the bow idea.) And here's how it all turned out:

And here's the gang, sportin' the goods... :)

They're so darn cute!!

...haha, if you notice, the tie is a bit short on the under side. Um, ya... that's a combination of using the unrevised version of the tie pattern (the revised pattern is apparently a bit longer) as well as not taking into account that I have an extra tall hubby. Lesson learned. From now on, all ties need about 10 inches added to them. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Finally Done!

Holy cow. I have been two buttons away from finishing this cute little clutch bag for about a month now. Why can I not just sit down and sew on two buttons?! I'll tell you why. It's because I have a strict policy that I MUST have at least 10 different projects going on at the same time, at all times. So, until I picked up another project, I couldn't finish this one. (anyone buying it?!) Okay, truthfully... I'm just a super big slacker who has major procrastination issues. :) But here it is! It's finally finished! The cute little bag for my other SIL, Annie. Hopefully she likes it. This one was designed specifically with her style in mind (so if she hates it, that just shows how observant I am regarding people's styles and tastes, doesn't it!). :)
Anyway, funny story about it... I was sitting in my craft/sewing/computer room putting the buttons on while my hubby was on the computer, and when I was done I showed it to him and his comment was, "it looks like the 'money' on those Geico commercials." (you know, those SUPER DUPER ANNOYING commercials with the DUMB song that gets stuck in your head??!) But I gotta say, when I look at this next picture... I totally see it! :)

"It always feels like somebody's watchin me!"

Ahh... two cute little bags. Don't they just look like they're going to be good friends? :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Homemade Granola Bars

Mmm! Mm! Good!

Okay... ever since I went to a food storage activity night and heard a comment about how we are so stuck on processed foods these days... how we buy these "granola bars" that we think are so healthy and yet are packed with HFC (high-fructose corn syrup) and other crazy stuff and we buy "fruit snacks" that really have nothing to do with fruit, etc. I have been thinking about making my own homemade granola bars (I'm still sticking with fruit snacks, though! What can I say? I'm still somewhat of a kid at heart :)). I started checking for some recipes online but still found a bunch of corn starch, sugar, etc in all these bars and never really settled on anything. And then I came across THIS recipe. After reading through some of the rave comments for them, I decided these had to be worth a shot. And seriously! They're so good! They're way better than what you buy in the store, way cheaper, and way healthier! Is there a down side to this?! ...Other than that now I will be having to make my granola bars instead spending two seconds to throw them in my grocery cart? ...but actually, that's half the fun too! And really it is, because this recipe is so versatile that you can customize it to be pretty much anything you want! I didn't have all the things the recipe called for, so I just used what I had on hand and they turned out fabulous. SO... give them a try. Click on the link for the original recipe, (plus she has great pictures for each step!) but here's the recipe that I made...

Homemade Granola Bars
-2 cups oats
-3/4 cup flax seed (half of that was milled and half just regular seeds)
-1/2 cup coconut
-1/4 cup chopped pecans
-3/4 cup chopped walnuts
-2/3 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup honey
-4 Tbsp butter
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp Kosher salt
-about 1 cup dried fruit (I used Craisins);

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
-Mix the oats, nuts, flax seed, and coconut on a baking dish (with sides) and toast them in the oven for about 12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that they don't get burned.
-While they're toasting, get a 9x13 glass baking dish and line it with parchment paper (you can use wax paper with a nonstick spray if you don't have parchment, but be aware that you may end up having to pick wax paper out of your granola bars! -don't say I didn't warn you!)
-Put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer, stirring constantly. (Don't forget to check on your toasting mixture as well!)
-Once it comes to a simmer, remove it from heat. And your grain/nut mixture should be done now too, so take it out of the oven (and you can turn the oven off too... we're done using it).
-Throw the toasted mixture into a large bowl and power the melted mixture on top, along with your dried fruit. And mix, mix, mix.
-Mix some more. :) You want to make sure that everything gets coated with the "glue".
-Dump your granola mixture into the prepared baking dish. Spread it out as evenly as possible.
-Using another piece of parchment (or wax paper, but again, watch out for sticking), press down HARD all over the top of the granola. You want to compact it together so the bars won't fall apart when you cut them.
-Wait 2-3 hours, or until the granola has completely cooled.
-Turn the granola onto a large cutting board and peel away what is now the top layer of parchment paper.
-Cut the granola into bars by firmly pressing down with a big cutting knife (not sawing). You can make the bars whatever size you like, but if you make them the general "granola bar" size, you should be able to get 18-20 bars out of this.
-Finally, you can either wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap so they're ready to grab and go, or you can just store them in an airtight container (with a piece of parchment placed between any layers).
Ta-da! Homemade granola bars. Enjoy! They're tasty!
Also, if you read through the comments on the original recipe, there are options for substituting things like agave syrup for the sugar, or reducing the amount of sugar and honey and adding some peanut butter instead... stuff like that. Really, you can just play with it and make it to your tastes! Have fun!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Yet ANOTHER Simple Skirt

Getting tired of these? Not me! :) I thoroughly enjoy making them because they're quick and simple so I can see the finished product fast and enjoy the fruits of my labors. (I'm all about the instant gratification... patience is definitely not one of my stronger virtues.) :) But anyway, this one turned out pretty darn cute. It's a gift for one of my nieces. I made it with the intent of her being able to use it for the 4th of July. Fun, huh? But you should have seen the DRAMA when Dixie found out she didn't get to keep this one. :) Maybe I'll have to make a twin of it for her... or at least something similar. She needs a 4th of July skirt too.

...And I'm just now realizing as I look at these pictures that I forgot to take the pacifier out of her mouth. Oops! :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Another Simple Skirt

Okay... It's as simple as this: I. LOVE. this. skirt. I didn't even buy this fabric with the intent of making a skirt out of it, but when Dixie started wearing the other skirt I made for her non-stop, I figured it was time for a second one. It really is funny because she will go dig the skirt (the original one) and a shirt out of the dirty laundry EVERY day, bring it to me, and say "skewrt?" ('skirt') with this totally precious/innocent look on her face, and I can't help but let her wear it... for a third day in a row. So much for cleanliness. :) Thankfully it's just skirts in general that she really likes and not that exact skirt, so when I made this new one, she was pleased as punch to wear it too. What a little girly girl she's becoming. Well, now I can at least get the other skirt washed! :) I think I'll have to make more. :)

Did I mention that I love this skirt (and the little girl that goes with it)? :)

Super Duper Cute Super Hero Cape!

So, I won a giveaway from this cute crafty blog, The Thrifty Chick. (Ya... she's about my one and only reader on this blog and I feel like we've practically become friends through our blog comments. :)) When she was doing a super hero cape giveaway, even though I didn't technically win, she still LET me win and made Dixie a cape anyway. WHAT A SWEETIE! 
Anyway, the cape arrived last Thursday, but due to some Dixie Drama, I haven't been able to get any pictures of her in it until today (and even these were taken in a pinch... but at least they show the super cuteness of the cape). So, sorry for no cute poses, but I'll take what I can get. :)


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Time To Update!

I've been working on so many things lately and just been so dang busy that I haven't had time to get on the computer to post! So here's some pics of my latest adventures...

A little toy heart for Summer to play with...

inspired by HERE
The nice thing is, she actually plays with it! Yea! It's a winner. :) Essentially you just sew two sets of hearts (leaving openings on each side) and then sew those together, stuff them, and use and invisible hand stitch to sew the hearts closed (for the tutorial, click the link above). Really easy and fun. I bought some jingle bells to put inside so it would make some noise, but I realized too late that with all the stuffing around the bells they just don't jingle. :) Oh well.

And here is a party garland I made for Dixie's birthday party...

inspired by HERE
Hm... I think I need to make this garland longer so it will string back and forth more times. That's the nice thing about this... you can keep adding to it and adding to it, or even cut it down to fit an area and then sew it back together. Very versatile. But I love how cute it turned out. Sorry for the bad pics. It was night time when I took these, so the lighting was bad.
Again, this is easy to make, just time consuming. You just get a bunch of color coordinating fabrics (I used about 6 different patterns), then cut and cut and cut to your hearts content (having a rotary cutter sure made faster work of the triangles and rectangles... the flowers had to be done by hand and were another story! :)), and then sew all the shapes together in a totally random order with some invisible thread. Ta-da!

Okay, and let's not forget the CAKE for the little princess' party...

...and this one was just inspired by my brain and all of Dixie's Barbie movies. :)

So that's just some of what I've been up to lately. I've got a bazillion more things running through my mind that I want to work on, some in the works, but I'm trying to keep myself organized so I don't end up with tons of started projects and no finished ones. :) Anyway... I'm just trying to keep those creative juices flowing!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Taco Soup--Ummy!

This was a recipe I tried last week... it's DELICIOUS! I'm sure it would be a lot more appropriate to eat on a cold, winter day rather than a hot, muggy, Texas day, but it's so good that I don't even care. The original recipe comes from a lady named Jane Clayson, but I modified it to fit my tastes. It's SO easy and SO delicious...

Taco Soup

-1 lb hamburger*
-1 medium onion, chopped
-2 stalks celery
-4 cups stewed tomatoes**
-1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, undrained
-1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
-1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
-1 pkg. taco seasoning
-Cheddar cheese, grated
-Tortilla or corn chips, crushed
-Sour cream
(*any ground meat will work. My hubby is a hunter, so we have a ready supply of ground venison which is what I used.)
(**if  you do any canning, I just used a large Mason jar (quart size) of canned tomatoes that I had done last year. Worked perfect.)

-Brown the hamburger (or whatever ground meat you are using) and onions in a large pot. 
-Add the celery, tomatoes, kidney beans, corn, tomato sauce, and taco seasoning. 
-Simmer 30 to 40 minutes. 
-Serve immediately with the chips and cheese sprinkled on top and a dollop of sour cream. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'm So Clutch

I saw these SUPER CUTE little clutch bags HERE and thought this would make a perfect gift for a little giveaway that I did on my personal blog. I have 4 people to make gifts for, and I thought this little bag would be great for my SIL, Annie. So I bought my fabric, started sewing, and the further I get into this project, the more this little bag starts screaming at me, "Erin. Erin! Send me to ERIN!" (Erin is my other SIL). And by the time I was done, I had to agree... this bag had Erin's name written all over it. So it's off to Erin it goes. (Sorry Annie.) But if it makes you feel better, I already have a new one in the works for you that I think you will like TONS better. :)
So here is my little gift to Erin... (hopefully she likes it. ...and hopefully she doesn't read this before she gets it, otherwise I just ruined the surprise. Oops!)

P.S. These bags are so fun to make! There's a free pattern at the link above for anyone who wants to give it a go!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Delicious and Nutritious Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week I went to a Relief Society Enrichment Night Activity (an activity night with a group of women from my church) and we learned all about beans... the health benefits, how to cook them, recipes to use, etc. 
Here's a little "taste" of what you can make with beans...

I'm not kidding! I was so excited about this new insight that I jumped right in to the "bean cooking world". For my first new bean recipe adventure I chose to make the chocolate chip cookies from the recipe handout we got, because of all the dessert options they appeared to be the most healthy (I'm on a health kick right now). These cookies are made with 100% whole wheat flour, they have NO butter, they only use brown sugar (no white), and they have beans to boot!
And the result? ...

... They turned out great! I keep eating them, and guess what? I feel no guilt! :) The taste is a little different from "regular" cookies, but not different in a bad way... just a different way. :) Now, granted, I'm already used to having cookies made with partial wheat flour, so if that's something you're not used to, that could be the biggest difference for you and take some getting used to. My husband says they taste like a protein bar to him. ...but that's a good thing, right??!
Well, if you'd like to try them, here is the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Beans!

-1/2 cup cooked white beans (I used canned* Great Northern Beans)
-1 cup brown sugar
-4 eggs (if you're using your food storage eggs, this is 1/4 cup Egg Powder + 1/2 cup Water)
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 1/4 cups wheat flour (you can use half white and half wheat if that's more to your liking)
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 cups chocolate chips (I used half milk chocolate chips and half white chocolate chips)
-1 cup pecans (or walnuts), chopped
*If using canned beans, drain and rinse them prior to beginning.

1. Beat the beans and sugar together until creamed. (I had to take a spoon and mash the beans occasionally to help them along.) Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix.
2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. (If using a mixer, do this a little at a time to avoid flour flying everywhere). Stir well until blended.
4. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Cover and refrigerate dough for about 1 hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
6. Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. Helpful Hint: Do NOT over bake these! They do not turn golden brown when done, so try testing them with a light touch on top of the cookie to see if they are done or not. (They should be barely firm and will set up more as they cool.) You do not want them to get crisp or crunchy. Also, if you are baking two cookie sheets at a time, be sure to switch them from top to bottom and vice versa half way through for even baking.
Makes 4 dozen. (Unless you make them my size, in which case it will make 2 1/2 dozen) :)

So go ahead... give them a whirl! You'll never have to feel guilty about eating cookies again! :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What's My Name Again?

Just in case Summer ever forgets her name, I made this cute little doo-dad to help remind her. :)
Okay, it's driving me crazy that her wall looks so peachy-tan in this picture. It's actually yellow (similar to the "M" color)... just to set the record straight. :)

It was so easy, but I sure dragged my feet in getting it done. The intention was to have it done before the little cutie was born, but that just didn't happen. Oh well. :) But here's how I did it: I got some wood letters (at Hobby Lobby), traced them onto scrapbooking paper with prints that I liked (and that matched her room decor), painted the wood white, cut the letters out (and I actually cut a little inside the lines so that some white would still show around the edges of the paper), used Mod Podge to apply the paper, and then finished up with a coat of Mod Podge (I used glossy) over the top. Then I just attached some sheer ribbon to the back of the letters using hot glue (it can get a tad bit tricky trying to figure out where to attach the ribbon so that the letters will hang straight, so I had to play around with that a little), and finally I hung them on this peg board that I got and had painted white. Ta-da!

I really like how it turned out, but now I need something else to go with it on the wall. Hmmm... maybe some butterflies. What do you think?

Now I just need to find some butterflies! :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dixie's New Skirt

So lately I've been on a sewing kick, which is odd because up until a few months ago I'd hardly sewed a thing in my life. But I'm really enjoying it, and I find that the more I sew, the more excited I get about sewing something else! Pretty soon I'll have closets full of homemade clothes... at least for the girls. I'm not sure why, but there seems to be a big difference between sewing little kids clothes and adult clothes. While the little kids ones will look cute, the adult ones just never seem to look like anything but "homemade". Not that there's anything wrong with being homemade. I guess. :) 
So anyway... here is my first adventure at a skirt. Honestly... about the easiest thing you could ever sew. I didn't even use a pattern. But I love it! And when Dixie saw it, she said, "Ooo... Peerwy" ('pretty'). I think that means it's a keeper. :)

I'm sure there are many more variations of this to come!

Hi and Welcome!

Hi! And welcome to my new blog! I've created this blog to help me keep track of all my creative ideas, my inspirations from others, and mostly to help motivate me to keep using my creative brain cells! From sewing to crafting to baking to whatever else helps keep me sane, I hope you'll enjoy this crazy creative adventure with me. :)