Thursday, November 21, 2013

A calm life

I read a quote on Pinterest recently that said, "It's okay to be happy with a calm life". It stood out to me. Why do we sometimes feel guilty when we are not busy? Or our kids aren't busy? Or we are not doing more than one thing at any given moment? Since moving here, my life has slowed down dramatically and I struggled with it at first until I really began praying for the spirit of guilt to just be lifted. Our enemy is the Accuser and these feelings of guilt and restlessness are not of the Lord. So I devoted myself to prayer about this and over the past few weeks, I have felt joy and freedom overtake the guilty feelings. Praise the Lord! I know He is using this season of my life to reveal and deal with a handful of things that I have struggled with for a long time and I am so thankful. 

My complete lack of a social life here has made Christmas the least stressful that it's ever been since we've had kids! I have time to sew, to plan, to order early and act on the little things that I always want to do, but never get to. (It's okay not to get to those things too, ya know. If you're feeling overwhelmed, start slashing nonessentials from that holiday to-do/to-buy list and don't give guilt over it any place in your Christmas celebration!)

A couple weeks ago, we headed up to Colonial Williamsburg! I had really wanted to go, but was horrified when I looked up the price. It's ridiculous, really. But, over Veteran's Day weekend, all military and their families could get in free!!! I was so happy. So we headed up there for the day and despite my back going out on the car ride up, I was determined to make the most of it. It was one of those family occasions that will be remembered so fondly--everyone was in a good mood, no one was whiny, the weather was good and it was just fun to be together. Even though I was walking slowly and sideways, haha. 

I am hoping to share another tutorial with you this week. I have made my ornaments for this year and thought I'd share the little pattern I made. If I can figure out how to get that pattern on here so that you can print it (it's probably totally easy, but I've never done it before), then that will be up soon!

Cheers :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pot Holder Mitt tutorial

The Christmas sewing has been in full swing for quite a while here now. I always waver before sharing anything I'm making for Christmas here on the blog because I don't like ruining surprises, but this one is too good not to share before Christmas because it's something that is so easy and fast to make for friends and family and I think if I can be useful to you in your own Christmas sewing endeavors, then I should :)

This little pot holder mitt idea stemmed from this tutorial. That version is beautiful! But, I needed something designed for mass production so I tweaked it a bit, eliminated the finicky binding (I never get machine sewn bindings to look good!) and changed the dimensions just a bit. Here's the finished product:

 And here is how to make your own :)

What you need:

  • Two 11x7 pieces for your main fabric (a quarter yard will work, a fat quarter will not)
  • Two 10x7 pieces for your pockets
  • An 11x7 piece of Insul-Brite. This is a heat resistant fabric made for projects like this and you can find it at your fabric store in the utility fabrics section. It's $7.99 a yard, but I had a half off coupon so it was really inexpensive. Plus, I've made ten of these and probably have enough for ten more. 
  • An 11x7 piece of cotton batting. I have plenty of scraps and if you don't, I bet someone you know who sews does! 
  • A walking foot if possible. 
  • A strong needle, a 90 probably. I used an 80, but my machine is semi-industrial. 
Let's get started! You should have cut your fabric to look like this:
 Go ahead and press your pocket pieces in half hamburger-style:
 Now for sandwiching your fabrics together. Put your piece of Insul-brite on top of your piece of cotton batting. Then put one of your main fabric pieces right side up on top of those.
 If you're not using a walking foot or if you're a beginner, I'd suggest basting those layers together and also basting your pockets on after that. I skipped any basting and mine stayed together fine. Next on your sandwich goes your pockets, with the folds toward the center:
 Lastly, place your remaining main fabric piece right side down on top of all that:
 Pin your layers together around the edges, planning for an opening for turning. I put mine on a long side--you can see I placed two pins together up there to remind me to stop. I left about three inches. Maybe a bit more.
 Go ahead and sew that sandwich together in a half inch seam. Then, trim your seams and corners, but not where your opening is; leaving that part untrimmed will ensure you catch those edges in when you top stitch.
 Turn right side out between your main fabric and your main fabric with pockets piece. Those layers can be confusing if you didn't baste, but you'll figure it out :)
 Poke those corners out good with a chopstick (or whatever) and press it good, pressing your opening closed. I then place a pin in my opening, ready for top stitching. I don't bother hand sewing that opening.
 Top stitch about an eighth of an inch away all the way around and you're done!!
 This is what the pocket side should look like:
 And the other side hopefully looks like this...
 These are really fast! I made this one in about 10 minutes and that was with taking pictures!
 I love looking at this pretty stack with all my favorite fabrics :)

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial!! If you make some, I'd love to see them, so link me in the comments!! And if you make many, I hope your sewing table has as pretty of a mess on it as mine does ;)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My kitchen's been busy

Am I the only ones whose kids think they need a snack at least every ten minutes? It's funny because my father-in-law said he read a news report that said homeschooled kids are generally skinnier than their in-school counterparts. I had to laugh because we seem to eat all day long. We generally eat very healthfully, but still.

I think we are kinda tired of the packaged choices we get here. When you eat Gluten free, dairy free and very little refined sugar, the choices are limited. So I got busy these last few days and tried some of the Paleo baked goods out there. I don't want my kids to feel completely deprived of treats and I think, based on how attached one of them got to her Halloween candy, we may have reached that point. I do want my kids to eat healthfully, but I don't want them to have a frustrated relationship with food. The truth is, healthy treats can be super yummy and I set out to prove it this week :)

I made some orange scones yesterday out of my Gather cookbook.
 I added a maple orange glaze. I found a basic glaze recipe and tweaked it:

1 Tbl maple syrup
1Tbl almond butter
1/2 Tbl honey
1/2 Tbl coconut oil
Juice from half an orange.

I think this glaze can work on all kinds of things and the orange juice can be replace. The scone recipe is simple and versatile too. I'd like to try blueberry lemon ones and make a lemon glaze. Yum! Last night we ate our scones with a lemon chicken soup and Casey was shocked that they were gluten free. I'm not sure he's been so excited about any previous Paleo breads or treats. I ate the last scone this morning and yes, I dipped it in my coffee ;)

I also tried a pumpkin granola bar recipe with oats, but it came out more like bread. It's good, but not great--the texture is a bit off.

I just took these brownies out of the oven. They call for two cups of almond butter, but that's like $12 for a batch of brownies! Not gonna happen. I used the crunchy peanut butter that's been in my cupboard for awhile because I bought it by accident and no one here prefers it. They smell incredible! I'll let ya know how they taste.

And for a different kind of cooking, I made my first batch of lotion bars today!!! I think they're pretty awesome! A full update on how my "make your own" efforts are going is coming soon!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Trick or Treat!

Whoa! Halloween on a military installation is darn fun! We have never before lived in a place where we felt safe enough to trick or treat in. Although I've handed candy out in the past, there were always only a few kids trickling down the street. We always went to our church party anyway, so the kids didn't feel like they were missing anything.

But, trick or treating here on post is a big deal. Thankfully, the post puts a time frame on things so you don't have kids ringing your doorbell regardless of the time and whether or not your porch light is on--I may have gone all mama bear on some clueless teens a few years ago after I'd finally gotten my little ones to sleep. Ahem.

Casey took the kids out and I stayed home to man the candy. I sat outside the door on a stool--there was no sense even going back in the house as I had a steady stream of kids, it was so fun! Sooooo many kids! I bought over 300 pieces of candy, gave only one to each kid and ran out within an hour and a half. The best part was making the teenagers explain their "costumes" to me ;) Hey, you have to earn candy around here!

Army guys on foot, bikes and four wheelers patrolled the streets the whole time. It's just cool. So now ya know where the best trick or treating is and you can find an in for next year.

On to costumes!! I am too lazy to go look for these patterns in my stash and link them all, but I'm pretty sure they are all Simplicity. Maybe a McCall's or two. If anyone's desperate to know, I'll go check :)

This is a lot of pics. And they're all mixed together ... it's Friday and I told you, I'm lazy today.

I only made Kelby's hat, the rest I ordered on Amazon. The pattern for the Mario costume was so cheesy--it was elastic pants and then the top "overall" part was stitched onto a weird red top and it all Vel-croed together in the back. Dumb when you can just get real overalls. The hat instructions were wonky too, I did my own thing and it's cute :)

 Natalie was a Renaissance Princess. She took forever to make up her mind, but once Layla's costume and cape were done, she definitely wanted a twirly long dress too. I made her the cape from the Simplicity Merida pattern. This pattern is worth a buck just for the cape--we had some friends visit and Layla's brown cape got lots of play time by the boys and the girls!

 Layla somehow looks so grown up in these pics! What a beauty.

 The woods were perfect for her costume, haha. We made the bow out of a stick, obviously. I was not about to spend $27 for the Toys R' Us one that is sure to break. She was very understanding.

 I pulled out the clown costume I made a few years ago. The kids get so thrilled that I dress up every Halloween, it's so cute. I wanted to make a Cinderella costume, but my Christmas sewing list snagged my attention instead. Next year!

Now, what to do with all the candy? There's an orthodontist in town paying $2 a pound on Monday, but I really don't even want it around that long! Although, Casey hid it somewhere good this morning and so far, no one's asked for it.