Friday, June 29, 2012

Sophie's Naptime Blankie/Pillow

I was in a sewing frenzy the other day trying to finish multiple aprons when my mom made the comment that Sophie really needed something to help her go to sleep for naps.  She doesn't have a favorite toy or anything she is really attached to and she is bounced around between a few different houses.  My mom wanted her to have a comfort item and suggested a pillow and blanket.  Of course my craft brain immediately started mentally going through my fabric stash to see what I could make.  I remembered I bought some girly flowered flannel last year during Joann's after Thanksgiving sale.  Once again I was not only excited with an easy cute project but also excited to use up some of my fabric.

I didn't use any measurements, just laid out the fabric and cut a rectangle that looked sufficient for the pillow and then another or the blanket.  I used regular flannel and just turned the edges of the blanket under and straight stitched around all four sides.  As you can tell by the picture above my little man couldn't leave them alone.  He was taking them from Sophie all day long, even when I brought out his own pillow and blanket.
Sophie also loves her new naptime buddies.  As soon as my mom tells her it's time to go night night she is looking for her pillow and blanket.  It's funny how something so simple can make a child so happy.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Craft Hope

I found Craft Hope about 2 years ago.  I even own the book.  For those of you who have never heard of Craft Hope they are an amazing organization who ask crafters all over the world to hand make items for those in need for a different charity every few months.  Please check out their Facebook page.  I am a little ashamed to say I have yet to participate in one of their projects.  I have no good excuses.  The main reason is I question how nice the things I make are.  I think a lot of crafters are the same way when you are giving something away as a gift you want it to be flawless.  Let's be honest here, nothing I make is flawless.  Even those items I have made seemingly a hundred times, I still screw something up on them.  The procrastinator in me doesn't help either. 
I randomly checked their facebook page (have I mentioned how much I really am not a fan of facebook and it pains me to have to go to a facebook page to find information) because their usual web page is under construction.  I found their latest project deadline is the end of June and it's Aprons for Haiti.  Aprons are very easy to make and are a great way to use up your fabric stash so I'm super excited with the idea of putting my crafting to good use and participating in this amazing charity.  An added bonus is using up some fabric so I don't have to pack it to a new place in a few months.

I bought this fabric literally about 8 years ago for the retro kitchen I dreamed of having during my teenage years.  It has taken up home in my fabric stash since then with no real purpose.  I saw this as the perfect opportunity to use it up.  I made 2 aprons with pockets to send to Craft Hope.

Then for the first time, ever I think, I made something for myself.  I made an apron with no pockets.  I didn't really use measurements.  Each of them are different widths with a different length of ties.  I have used this tutorial in the past and it's really simple and easy to follow. 

I'm really anxious to see what the next project will be and I'm really gonna try to not procrastinate this time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Toddler Relay for Life Onesies

The Relay for Life was last weekend and my mom and I were really excited.  This is extremely important to us especially right now.  At the survivor dinner we received our team t-shirts.  All survivors registered to a team received a purple t-shirt, team captains received a turquoise t-shirt, and all other team members received a white t-shirt.  They don't have toddler or childrens shirts so my mom and I really wanted to make one for my son and neice since they would both be at the Relay with us.
We started out with 2 regular white onesies.  I used an 18 month, one of Grant's old ones, for Sophie and pulled a 24 month out of his drawer so no cost there.

We took a trip to Hobby Lobby and came across these fabric markers by Crayola. 

I've never seen them before but was excited about trying them out.  I wasn't crazy about them with this particular project but they worked okay.
We mimicked the Relay for Life t-shirts we already had, minus the sponsors on the back.
Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago, and had a mastectomy exactly 1 week before my wedding.  She did all her radiation and chemo and had been cancer free since then.  We all thought it was behind us until about a week ago when we found out the cancer that was in her breast tissue was now in her hip bone.  Once again she will be going through radiation and chemotherapy.  Her diagnosis was less than a week before the Relay for Life in our town and we knew that it was more important than ever for us to participate and raise as much money as we could for the American Cancer Society.  In light of all of that I wanted to put something on the shirts to honor my mom's fight.

I was not completely satisfied with how they turned out because in my head they looked a lot better, but I'm glad Grant and Sophie had their team shirts.

We had never been to Relay for Life and didn't quite know what to expect but I have to say I am super excited for next year.  I told my mom this year we would lay low and this would be our practice year.  Most people set up campers or tents and there were games, music, and food until the wee hours of the morning.  Grant was with me the entire time and what a trooper he was rolling around in his stroller and running around the campsite.  I'm so proud of him because he did so good.  Only a couple melt downs and I guess that's to be expected when you're outside for 18 hours straight.

Next year we plan to have everything more organized and make it a little less stressful, but it was worth it all for the thousands of dollars raised.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Relay for Life Survivor Dinner

My mom and I attended the Relay for Life's Survivor dinner last Thursday.  My mom is a 2 year breast cancer survivor and this was the first time we had been there.  Since we are one of the teams participating in the relay this year we also volunteered to decorate a table.  The theme for the race is Superheroes and we were supposed to make our own interpretation of that and come up with some ideas.

My mom works in the city school system with junior high kids.  At the end of the school year she had some of them draw a cancer superhero.  We used these laminated pictures as placemats and also had folders of the extras so the attendees could look at what the kids had drawn.
This one was one of my favorites.

My mom had little glass votives in storage we pulled out, wrapped some ribbon around and made a pink ribbon to glue on the front.

Our centerpiece we wanted to just tie into the color scheme.  Looking at it you wouldn't know the theme was superheroes but we wanted something a little elegant.  We took a glass vase from the dollar tree along with clear rocks from the dollar tree, filled it with water and put a  stemmed flower from hobby lobby inside.  The flowers sitting on the table were blooms from the same flower stem as the centerpiece.

Here is the whole table with the centerpiece, placemats, and folders with superheroes inside.

The dinner was really nice.  They took pictures of each person and their guest and provided the survivors with a goody bag including a small photo album. The baskets for the basket raffle were all there as well and each survivor received 5 free tickets to put in whatever basket they wanted.  It was neat to see what ideas other people had for the baskets and see our own too.

The Relay is next weekend and I'm super excited to attend.  We got our t-shirts and are ready to Relay!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dorm Life Essentials Graduation Gift Basket

My cousin is going off to college in the fall and living on campus.  Since I lived in a dorm years ago, I decided I needed to do a basket filled with things you would need living the dorm life.
I bought a wire waste basket at the dollar store and filled it with the following items along with a tag attached to each of them explaining why he would need them:

Ramen noodles-A staple in any student's room
EZ mac-for when you're tired of eating Ramen noodles
Over the door hook-because you will need every inch of space to hang and store things
A package of pens-because they somehow are always disappearing
Dish soap-for washing dishes in the bathroom sink
Dish scrubber-so you won't have to wash dish rags
Laundry Bag-for carrying all that dirty laundry down 2 flights of stairs to the laundry room
Instant coffee-for the boost of caffeine you will need when you're going on 2 hours of sleep.
Gum-for that inevitable morning you wake up with 5 minutes to get to class and have no time to brush your teeth
Chip clips-because you will need them but will never think to buy them
Bandaids-for the paper cuts you will inevitably get during all night cramming
Air freshner-because at some point there your dorm room will have a stench no one can find the source of.

I was at first hesitant as to whether I wanted to go the gift basket route because lets face it most people give money for graduation gifts and most graduates expect money.  I personally, HATE giving money and gift cards unless they are part of a gift basket.  Don't get me wrong, I love receiving them but I really get enjoyment out of coming up with gifts.  When I talked to my mom  she said most everyone else will give money and he will get plenty so I should do what no one else will do.  I am so satisfied with this gift basket.  I found all of the above items at the Dollar Tree or on clearence at other stores. I spent under $12 and could have done better had I commited earlier to the type of basket I was doing.  I had a few other ideas I had bounced around in my head before deciding on the idea above.  I thought I would include them in case someone was needing some choices.

Bathroom Caddie:  Living in a dorm you are forced to carry all your bathroom essentials in a caddy with you to the shower every day.  My thoughts were to find a caddie and fill it with toothpaste, toothbrush, shave gel, razor, shower gel, shampoo, wash cloths, and flip flops (no one wants to wonder when the last time the showers were cleaned so you wear flip flops to avoid the chances of getting a weird fungus).  This gift basket could be put together for well under $10 if you use coupons and shop the sales at your local grocery stores.

Laundry Basket: laundry detergent, laundry bag, wrinkle releaser (because who has time to iron or space for an iron and ironing board in a dorm), hangers, Fabric refresher spray (for the days you forgot to do laundry and have to wear dirty ones), static cling sheets. clorox pen. shout wipes.

Food goody basket filled with classic college foods: ez mac, ramen noodles, bottled sodas, chips, chocolates, candy, instant coffee, single serve cereal, granola bars, pop tarts, instant oatmeal, microwavable meals, plastic utensils, plates cups and bowls (or paper if you don't want them to worry about washing dishes).

If you know far enough in advance that you will be needing a graduation gift you could look for any of the above items on clearence shelves or if you are a couponer like me, you could use your coupons and shop the sales getting the items nearly free.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Relay for Life Basket Raffle

My mom and I are walking in the Relay for Life here in our town and I'm really excited.  My mom is the team captain and I guess being her daughter and helping coordinate everything I could call myself the co-captain.

Either way, at the Relay they do a basket raffle, where each team puts together a basket of a certain theme of their choosing and people at the Relay bid on them with their tickets.  We decided to do a baby basket and make most of the items.  Ok technically I made the items but my mom did lend me her fabric stash to raid :)

Here is what we put together:

2 fabric balls (1 boy and 1 girl) with jingle bells inside the pattern can be found here.

4 bibs (2 boy and 2 girl) made of flannel with terry cloth backing.  I simply used one of Grant's bibs as a pattern.

4 burb cloths (2 boy and 2 girl).  I used the tutorial here except I used quilt batting you can get at any craft store or walmart in between the layers.

1 unisex changing pad (I had great intentions to make 2 but after 3 days of sewing I gave up that idea).

2 binky clips (1 boy and 1 girl).

1 Bit of Whimsy Jean doll (can you see Grant's little fingers on the right going for the doll?).  I made a boy doll as well like the one made for Grant for Christmas but after ripping seams out 3 times and the fabric finally giving in, leaving a huge hole by the arm, I gave up on the boy doll.

We also put 2 bottles, 2 binkies, a rattle, baby wash and baby lotion inside.  I'm really glad we did this basket but also so so so glad I'm finished with all the items to fill it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Training Underwear

I attempted to make training underwear for my little guy using PUL waterproof fabric and prefold diapers I already had on hand.  However after making one pair, which turned out super cute, I figured out they will not work.  I don't know if Grant is big for his age or what but the pattern I used took up the whole prefold so there is no way for me to use those with a larger pattern and I couldn't get it over his knees.   So now I'm gonna have to go a different route.  I made a pair of underwear out of one of Derrick's old t-shirts and my old sleep pants, just to get the size and fit correct.

I used Katrina's soaker pattern in an XL.  My son's waist is 19 1/2-20inches and his thighs are about 11 inches so I figured the XL would be a perfect fit.  Turns out they were a little too big but look how cute they still are on my little guy.

My new plan, since the PUL and flatfold diapers didn't work for us, is to make underwear out of old t-shirts and add a soaker layer with some PUL on the outside to make them waterproof.  I'm really excited to get started on them and I'm hoping to get a few pair done this week and maybe start training next Monday.  I'm nervous already!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Wednesday was my mom's birthday and I made her caramel apple cupcakes and a Kitchenaid mixer cover (more on that another day since I have yet to take a photo of it).
The cupcakes were apple cinnamon, filled and frosted with caramel cream cheese frosting, and a caramel drizzle on top.

 I used the cake recipe and caramel recipe from here by the girls from DC Cupcakes with one change,  I added a couple dashes of nutmeg.  The cakes were a breeze to make but the caramel took FOREVER, or maybe it just seemed that way because I had a 19 month old sitting on my feet ramming my toes with the oven drawer.  The sauce turned out amazingly good but I highly recommend making it when the kiddos are sleeping or not home.  It also takes longer than 20 minutes to fully thicken.  I ended up using mine while it was still a little runny because I was tired of being in the kitchen and just wanted the cupcakes finished.  It still tastes just as good whether runny or thick.

The recipe for the frosting is the vanilla cream cheese frosting by the DC cupcake girls as well, but with 4T of the caramel sauce mixed in at the end.  I could have licked the bowl the frosting was so tasty.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Sleepless Naptime

Never in my years surrounded by children (and I have had countless years, more than most people) have I ever encountered a child like mine.  I have fought the nap war since week 2 after he was born.  Than is when it started.  I could not get him to sleep unless I held him and if I tried to put him down he screamed.  Mind you he never slept all the time like people tell you newborn babies do.  His "naps" were about 2 a day and each only about 30 minutes, if I was really lucky maybe an hour, and it took me at least an hour to get him to sleep in the first place.  Back then I frequently reminded myself that he would grow out of it, that this was a phase.
Fast forward 7 months and in an effort to get ready for daycare I put him in his bed for naps and he screams for at least 1-2 hours every single day before collapsing into exhaustion for a total of 45 minutes, again on a rare occasion I may get an hour and a half.
Fast forward to now and while when I tell him it's naptime he will crawl in my lap and be out in a total of 5 minutes (thank the good lord above for routines), getting him to sleep in his bed is still a war.  As I type this I am sitting on my bed while he is in his crib screaming.  It is now almost 2:30pm and we have been battling since 11:45am.  He was asleep when I brought him to his crib and his eyes popped open when his butt hit his mattress.  I refused to give in, knowing how unbelievably stubborn he can be and desperately needing him to get into a routine of sleeping in his bed.  We both got a break to eat and get a diaper change and then I put him right back in bed.  As he screams I feel a bit like a crappy mom, like I should just get him out and cuddle him for a couple minutes until he falls asleep.  However I know this will not help him and I know when it's time for me to go back to work I will only be punishing those who are willing to help us by watching him.
I feel like the only one whose child does this and it is a battle that after 19 months I feel like may never end.

Sloppy Dogs Recipe

I adore Rachel Ray and a few weeks back she remade the sloppy joe by using hot dogs and naming it Sloppy Dawgs.  Last week there was a great deal on hot dogs and I only ended up paying $0.22 per package.  Needless to say we now have 10 packages of hot dogs in the freezer and I'm in desperate need of new ways to eat them other than slappin them in a bun.  When I saw the sloppy dawgs recipe I was so excited and Sunday seemed the perfect night to try it out.

I, of course, didn't have all the ingredients it called for so I had to improvise a little.  Here is the recipe how I made it.

1lb hot dogs
8oz tomato sauce
2t cornstarch
1T worcestershire sauce
1T white vinegar
1/2 chopped red bell pepper
1/2 chopped yellow bell pepper
1 onion diced
1T olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium high heat.  Chop hot dogs into quarters and put in pan cooking til golden brown.  Add onions, red and yellow peppers and cook til tender.  Add cornstarch and stir to combine, put lid on pan and let cook for about 1 minute to thicken.  In a small bowl mix tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce and vinegar.  Add to hot dog mixture, place lid back on pan and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
On a plate open a hot dog bun and spoon your sloppy dogs on top.  Top with mustard and relish if you wish and eat with a fork.  These are so yummy, you will be so excited to have a new way to eat your hot dogs this summer.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

1st Trip to the Zoo

Over the weekend we took Grant to the zoo for the 1st time and I have to admit I think I was more excited than anyone.  I felt like I was a kid all over again, it was great.  Our zoo lets you bring in coolers, food, and drinks so naturally I wanted to take a picnic rather than spend a small fortune on their food.  I think my husband was even glad I brought stuff from home when he saw the price of a bottle of water was $2.75.  Craziness!
Our lunch menu consisted of tuna salad wraps, bacon ranch pasta salad, and brownie bites for dessert.  I threw the pasta salad together with no real recipe but my oh my it was so delish I could have finished the entire bowl.  Because I loved it so much I wanted to share my make-shift recipe.

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
1/2 box dry pasta (any kind you have in the pantry will do)
about 1/2c ranch dressing
4 strips of cooked bacon (I cooked mine on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes)
1/2 red pepper chopped
1/2 yellow pepper chopped
1/4c canned or frozen and thawed peas
1/4c shredded cheese
1/2 green pepper chopped

cook your pasta using the instructions on the side of the box, drain and cool by running under cold water.  Put pasta in a bowl along with the red, yellow, and green peppers, peas, and cheese, mix together.  Chop bacon into small pieces and add to mixture alond with ranch dressing, mix thoroughly and refrigerate before serving.  Just before you want to serve your pasta salad pour a small amount (a few tablespoon fulls) of ranch dressing on top and mix together one last time.
I promise you will be going back for seconds.

The brownie bites I made using a store bought brownie mix and my mini muffin tin.  I love white chocolate and a few months back my local grocery store had a sale on white chocolate chips and I got about 8 bags for $1 each, so I add them to everything, even brownies.  I threw in about 1c of the white chocolate chips into the brownie batter before baking and it gave them just the right stuff to satisfy my sweet tooth. 

I was really worried that my super energetic little man would throw quite a few fits throughout our trip because he can't stand to sit for very long and his attention span is about 3 minutes.  I decided I needed some new toys/occupyers (is that even a word?) that he had never seen that may ward off a tantrum or two.  The crafter in me didn't contemplate buying new toys, but of course immediately started thinking of what I could make in about 24 hours since our trip was only planned about 2 days in advance.  I decided on an ISpy bag, that has been on my to-do list forever, and a fabric zoo animal  photo book.  I have seen  many different ways to make ISpy bags over the last few years but of course didn't have time to find and follow one.  So I was just winging it along with the photo book.

(I ended up having to scale down the above ISpy bag when I realized it was a smidge too big but used the same fabric and same toys)

I was really excited with how they turned out but found quite a few problems with the photo book, which is why there is no tutorial for it.  I plan on making him another one with photos of our trip and including a tutorial without all my rookie mistakes.

I actually used pictures my mom had in photo albums from when I was a kid visitin the zoo.  As you can tell this book was a quickie project and no where near perfect but it was cute watching Grant look through it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Taco Salad/Soup


1 can black beans $0.29 with coupon
2 cans diced tomatoes $0.79 each
2 cans corn $0.59 each
1lb ground beef cooked & drained $1.79
1 packet taco seasoning $0.04 with coupon
1 bag corn chips $0.99
Shredded Cheese, sour cream, and green onions for topping
Total= $5.87 before toppings

After cooking and draining the ground beef add the packet of taco seasoning, tomatoes (undrained), corn, and beans.  Mix together and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
Put a handful of corn chips in the bottom of a bowl.  Top with your soup mixture, cheese, sour cream, and green onions. Enjoy!

You could also use this to top on rice or put inside a tortilla and eat like a taco.  So use whatever you have in the pantry.

This recipe makes more than enough for a dinner, with leftovers and more to freeze for future meals so you get more than just one meal for under $6.  I love that!


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