Sunday, June 28, 2009

...and one more...

Here's one last tote. For now, anyway.

Today we went to our friend Emma's seventh birthday party, and this was her gift. Her favorite color is, of course, pink. I love the main body fabric-I have ogled it many times but never had the right project for it. I think this worked!

You can probably tell that I love to sew these totes.

I am taking a break from them for a while though. We're caught up on birthdays for the moment, plus I am busy making another mini messenger. Not for me, of course. Photos in a few days, when I finish it up!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Yes, Another Tote (and more cupcakes)

Well, one might argue that I am nothing if not predictable, and I would not be one to disagree. Evidence is below, in the form of a tote bag and some cupcakes.

I made this for Adrea's sixth birthday. Adrea is my neighbor, plus she happens to be my cousin's daughter. Which I think makes me her second cousin, but I consider her more my niece. She loves pink and she loves pretty, so we thought this fabric was perfect for her. The pink part is actually swirled with shiny pink.

Here are her party cupcakes. Her mom, Jenni, baked the cupcakes and made the frosting. All I did is tint it pink and purple and swirl it together to frost them. The kids sprinkled on colored sugar for a little oomph. Pretty fancy!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Sewing

I haven't been crafting much lately, as we've spent all of our daylight moments outside. However, I have two things to show you today.

Here is a tote I made for our friend Miles for his third birthday. I actually sewed this in April, when I found this awesome robot and rocket fabric. Click on the photo to enlarge it so you can see the cool red fabric, too. Miles's birthday was a week and a half ago, so I couldn't post this until now. Didn't want to ruin the surprise in case he reads my blog.

On Monday, Nora went to swimming lessons and then we went to our friend Charity's house. She lives in a most convenient location. Get this-we walked up to my favorite fabric store, which is one block from her house! Charity was just as smitten as I am with all of the amazing fabrics. She picked out this adorable animal fabric for a tote for her 2 year-old, Josie. I used lime green thread for a bit of contrast. We plan to drop it off after swimming lessons today. I sure hope Josie likes it!

On a related note (sort of), I may have mentioned the heat of late. After spending our days swimming and playing in the sand next door, we are exhausted, starving and hot. I am having trouble coming up with dinners that are filling and appealing to the children but do not require the use of my oven. I can't stand to warm my house by even one degree. Last night we had eggs. The night before, we had tacos. The girls do not like barbecue, so that makes my life tricky this time of year. Please-if you have any ideas for hot weather meals that little girls enjoy, I would love to hear them. Oh, by the way, we are vegetarian. Or tofu snappers, as my father refers to us. I'll just be here, waiting for the advice to pour in...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


A few weeks ago, Kevin's parents came over with the most delightful gift: fencing!

They worked with Kevin for two afternoons installing this around my vegetable garden. I can't even tell you how exciting this is! Last year, the deer and the bunnies ate everything in my garden. I was not very happy to have spent hours and hours weeding, tilling, planting, watering, weeding, watering, weeding, watering and weeding just so the local wildlife could eat everything.

It's been really hot here for the past few days, and I have been vigilant about watering and weeding, and everything has just sprung up. I swear the tomatoes have grown several inches this week! And look at the flowers! This means I will actually have tomatoes to harvest this year!

My dad had extra onion sets, so Dana planted a row in our garden. They are growing like weeds. I am thrilled!

Peas! I am very happy to see peas coming up. I planted them along one edge of the garden so that they can grow right up the fence. Smart of me, no? Yeah, it was Jerry's idea, not mine. That's Kevin's dad.

These are pole beans. I chose yellow because I am lazy, and I will be able to see yellow easily when it comes time to pick them. Green beans are much harder to spot, since they are the exact same hue as bean leaves.

Cucumbers! These are actually in my flower bed, but I am still very excited about them. Fresh cucumbers are my all time favorite garden treat. I like them even better than garden tomatoes. Isn't that crazy? I planted four plants, one on each side of my 4-sided obelisk. I should have planted 40 plants because I love them that much.

Some color, just for fun.

I have other things growing in the vegetable garden, too. Things like Swiss chard, kohlrabi, spinach, carrots. Kevin's dad had a huge selection of seeds leftover from his gardening adventures, and he shared them with us. Those tiny seedlings are hard to photograph still since they are very tiny yet. I also have a pepper plant and some basil. But really-how many plants do you want to look at?

I have a couple of sewing projects in the works, but it has been much too nice out to sit inside sewing. I will probably start the one tonight though.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I found this recipe a couple of weeks ago and couldn't stop thinking about it. I finally made it last Sunday to bring to our weekly family bbq.

Yum-all those marshmallows!

It's just a s'more in a pan. Really easy and really yummy. The only change I made was to use 8 chocolate bars instead of the 7 called for.

It's better than a campfire s'more because the chocolate is actually soft. That is the one downfall of a campfire s'more: hard chocolate.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mini Messenger

So Nora has been asking and asking for a messenger bag instead of a backpack. All of the ones I can find are intended for laptops, and because of the extra padding and everything, they are really heavy! And bulky! And the straps are ridiculously long. And because of these issues, I told her I would figure out how to make her one, one that is lightweight and smaller and with shorter adjustable straps. I promised to do all of this in time for school to start in the fall, but one night I was doing something or another and I found an online tutorial for messenger bags.

Since my sewing skills are a work in progress, I was a bit hesitant to just jump into this. So I looked through the rest of this woman's blog and somewhere saw mention of a smaller version. So I decided to make myself the mini messenger as a trial and, if it worked out and wasn't too complicated, I could make the bigger one for Nora for school.

And you know what? It totally worked out and it was pretty easy!

You actually follow the sewing directions for the regular messenger bag, but there is sort of an addendum tutorial with the smaller measurements and some other notes if you want to make the mini messenger.

The mini uses three fat quarters, two zippers, a magnetic snap, and about a yard of interfacing. So I made this for about $10! This photo shows the front of the bag, with the flap closed.

I used Amy Butler fabric and I have to say, it turned out really cute. I love it! Do you see the magnetic snap there? It is sitting right in the middle of two pockets. I keep my phone in one and it's perfect. The flap actually covers the pocket and prevents the phone from just falling out. Nice!

That's the inside of the purse. It has a ziptop closure, so I don't have to worry about my wallet falling out. Also, do you see that green zipper inside there? It has an interior zipper pocket! I still can't believe I sewed an interior pocket! It was actually very easy, but don't tell anyone.

This is the back. There are two pockets, but I am not sure what I will put in them. Maybe a mini Kleenex packet or something I won't worry about losing. They don't have closures, so whatever I stash there won't be super secure or anything. Still-there are five pockets, plus the main part of the bag. I will be able to carry everything I need in an organized fashion.

Sometime soon I will take Nora to select fabric for her school messenger. I can totally make her one without pulling any of my hair out! I am really excited!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Nightie for Nora

On Friday, my dad took Nora and Dana to my nephew Keenan's baseball game. That left me with a couple of hours home alone. I used my time to sew a nightie for Nora.

I love how it turned out!
The fabric is flannel from Sandi Henderson's Ginger Blossom line. I saw it at Hannah Johnson and knew that Nora would love it. It has her two favorite colors: pink and turquoise.

The pattern is McCall's 5744. I saw a sample of this nightie on display when I bought this fabric and I loved the crossover style. So cute! And talk about customer service: this isn't a pattern she sells-she was just looking to display the sample nightie-so she let me borrow HER pattern!

I cut my own bias tape for the contrast. I know it's a whole lot easier to just buy a package of it, but it looks so sweet with the coordinating fabrics, and plus, do they even make flannel bias tape?

And here's the best part: Nora absolutely loves it! She could not believe I made it without her even knowing. Which completely cracks me up, because my dad dropped the girls off while I was in the middle of this project, and I continued to sew while the kids played. I was three feet away from her, with fabric scraps everywhere, and she never really noticed. Kids are so funny sometimes.

She got a bit wacky for the camera.

I need to go buy this pattern in the smaller size so I can make one for Dana, who has asked very kindly for a nightie, too. Coming right up, friend!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls, As Requested

Nora's school serves breakfast every morning, to every child who wants it, free of charge. She is not interested.

Lately, though, she has been asking me when they will serve cinnamon rolls. She thought yesterday was the day, for some reason, but when she got to school with an empty stomach, it wasn't the day after all.

Today is her last day of first grade. I thought cinnamon rolls would be an appropriate sendoff, so I stayed up until 12:35 prepping them. You know how that pesky yeast needs time to rise and all.

So anyhow, I know y'all probably think I work for, but I don't. I just like making recipes that other people have tried. This cinnamon roll recipe has 5 stars from almost 3,000 people, so I knew it would be a winner. It's!

I followed the recipe as-is except for two things. First, I don't ever buy margarine, so I used butter in the dough. Second, it was late at night and I got confused and mixed the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon all together for the filling instead of spreading the butter on the dough and topping it with the cinnamon and brown sugar. I have to say that it actually worked better. Everything stayed put instead of sliding off and all landing on the bottom. Don't the little pinwheels look cute?

The other thing: after I took the above photo, I put the cover on the pan, put it in the fridge and went to bed. By morning, they had grown and were touching each other. A nice, slow, cool rise in the fridge worked just fine.

After letting them warm up on the counter for 30 minutes this morning, I put them in the cold oven, turned it to 350 and baked them for about half an hour.

Once they cooled a bit, I turned them out onto a cutting board and returned them to the pan upside down. Why? Because I could see the filling oozing all over the bottom of the pan, and I could see no oozing on top. I flipped them over so the filling would run back down and coat the other side, too.

At this point, I went to wake Nora up. I asked her if she could smell the cinnamon rolls and a big smile spread out across her face. Later, she asked Kevin, "Do you smell that? Mom made me cinnamon rolls!"

Finally, I mixed up the cream cheese icing and slathered it on top of the warm (NOT HOT!) rolls. Nora licked the spatula and Dana licked the beater. Then Nora licked all of the icing off of her cinnamon roll, ate two bites, and went out to catch the bus. Meanwhile, I grabbed a cup of coffee and proceeded to eat two rolls.

I am very tired today. However, it was totally worth staying up too late, getting up too early, and seeing that smile on my girl's face.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


It's true! I was one of the winners of Finny and Donk's Craft: Along!

Just for the May projects. But still.

I won for the shirt and shorts I made for Dana.

I only win bragging rights, but still. I am excited.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

I had never made a pecan pie before. In fact, I haven't even eaten pecan pie before. But Saturday was my dad's birthday, and I volunteered to bring dessert to Sunday dinner. And for some reason I thought to myself, "Dad loves pecan pie!" So I went and found a recipe on the world wide web.

Sorry about the distracting pattern on the dishes. It isn't the best for photographing food.

Anyhoo, this pie? So delicious I couldn't stop thinking about it until the last slice was gone. Because the longer this pie sits in the fridge, the better it tastes. And it's super easy!

The recipe is here, but I am going to rewrite it because I made a couple of minor changes.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup whole pecans
single crust pastry

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Line either a deep-dish pie plate or an 11-inch tart pan with pie pastry. Trust me-there is too much filling for a regular 9-inch pie plate. We hate when pie filling overflows into our oven.

3. Melt the butter in a heavy pan on the stovetop. Mix in the corn syrup, sugar and cocoa powder. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. This could take a little while. I cooked mine for about 15 minutes, until it was really smooth.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add a bit of the hot chocolate mixture and mix it up. I think this is called tempering. If you just throw the eggs into the chocolate on the stove, they will scramble. This extra step prevents that from happening. Because who wants scrambled eggs in their pie?

5. Add the tempered eggs back into the chocolate mixture and mix well. Add vanilla and salt and mix well. Finally, stir in the chopped pecans.

6. Pour the pie filling into the unbaked shell. Arrange whole pecans on top in a pattern that pleases you. Bake for 55 minutes.

7. CHILL WELL and serve. Like I said, this tasted better on day 2, and better yet on day 3.

It's like a chewy, delicious brownie full of tasty pecans.