Jan 30, 2009

Valentine pouches

I saw the idea for these on the show John and Kate Plus 8. She had purchased a little Valentines back pack for each of her kids that she strapped to the back of their chairs at the dinner table. While they were napping she filled them with pencils and stickers and other goodies. I thought they were so cute and wanted to recreate something like them for myself. Now I am not usually the kind of sewer who dares to venture out on my own without a pattern but I decided to let my creative juices do the work this time and this is what I came up with. I am including a tutorial on how to make them. (it does require sewing) It is a bit lengthy as I wanted to be as detailed as possible so if you are not interested but want to see a few more close ups just scroll down to the bottom. These are really not that hard to make and you can do all kinds of things to dress them up. Enjoy!!

You start with a 12x18 1/2 " sheet of fun foam. (Side note; did you know that you can sew this stuff on your sewing machine? I didn't know that but thought I would try it and it works really great. That opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. It is cheap and easy to cut and use. Now you can sew it. Who knew?)

Cut a 2" strip off of each side of the foam. You will use these strips to make the sides of the pouch.
With your remaining piece vertically in front of you mark up 5 1/2" from the bottom on both sides. Then measure 7 3/8" up from the bottom and mark again on both sides.

These are what the markings should look like.

Fold up from the bottom on the first set of markings (5 1/2") and press with your finger to make a crease.

Using your sewing machine stitch a 1/4" seam along the fold. You don't need to back stitch at the start because it is a bit hard to get going when you start sewing. (I usually ended up with a few stitches in place). Back stitch at the end. I used a stitch length of 3.5

A closer look. (All seams for the project are 1/4")

Now fold up on the second set of markings and stitch the same way. This is creating the bottom of your pouch.

What the bottom looks like. Before you continue sewing you should attach any decorations that you will want to have sewn on the front. I stitched a "T" free hand on my machine but didn't like it so I cut one out of felt and covered it up. I also drew the A freehand and cut it out but I hand sewed it on. You could glue first then sew but I just held it in place.

Next measure the side of your pouch from the stitching line up to the top of the front piece. Mine was about 5 3/8". From your left over 2" strips that you cut, cut two pieces 5 3/8" (or whatever measurement you got).
Cutting my side strips.
Start by attaching the side strip to the middle of the bottom of the pouch. Stitch in between the two bottom seams you already sewed. Seam is 1/4". Don't forget to back stitch. (My Home Ec. teacher side coming out)

Now sew the side seams also at a 1/4". It is kind of tricky to sew the bottom corners but the great thing about the foam is you can bend it however you need so I just folded mine over (see picture) and sewed it. Sew both side seams on both sides of the pouch.

How the sides look when completed.

A close up of my letter T.
Once both sides are sewn your pouch is done and ready for more decoration and for you to decide how to close it. (I have a few suggestions I will share below)For the "Bee Mine" pouch I made some bees out of some extra fun foam I had. I just free handed my bee body shapes, cut some strips of black a bit longer than the width of the bee and cut out some hearts for wings.

I glued my bees together using white glue. I found that it works the best on fun foam. It takes longer to dry so you will want to do these ahead of time.
At the last minute I decided my bees needed some stingers so I cut out some small triangles and added them and I also added an eye with a black fine point pen.
On the "A" pouch I drew a scalloped design on the flap and cut it out. Then I used a small hole punch to add the holes. I used a regular sewing needle and thread and sewed on some assorted buttons. I glued a piece of white felt behind the whole thing. You can really decorate in any way that you want. Just remember if you are gluing things on that you have to have some drying time. For the closures I used sticky Velcro for the "A" pouch. I have to say that I hate everything about sticky Velcro. It gums up my sewing machine needle, but is too hard to sew by hand and it is not sticky enough to hold on it's own. I would recommend regular Velcro that can be sewn on with a sewing machine and never ever buy sticky Velcro. For the bee pouch I sewed a large button on the front and cut a slit a little larger on the flap. I like this but you have to sew the button on very securely as it can rip off very easily (that happened to me).

Now to make the hangers I used some extra ribbon that I had in my craft room. I cut 2 pieces 22" long. I folded those in half and placed them just a bit higher than the height of the front of the pouch (5 3/8") but on the back. I placed them an 1 1/2" in from each side and sewed across the fold on my machine.
Now you are done and ready to hang them up and fill them with cute goodies for your kids.

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Another new recipe

I hope that readers are not getting tired of these recipes. What do you think? I wanted to post them because I am sure I am not the only one looking for something new but maybe everyone is tired of reading about them. Any feedback?
Well at least for now I will share another one. This is called Chicken Taco Rice. It is really easy to make and fast (even those who consider themselves "non cooks" can do this one). The flavor is excellent; not too spicy not too bland.

Here are the ingredients: (this is to make enough for two with a little leftover)

1tbsp oil
2 large chicken breasts (cut into thin strips)

1 can chicken broth

3/4 cup salsa

1 cup frozen corn

1/2 green pepper chopped in pieces

1 cup minute rice

1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or a mexican blend)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and saute until lightly browned and cooked all the way through. Add broth and salsa and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add corn and pepper, bring to a boil. Stir in rice. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.

This is what it looks like when I first added the rice.

This is what it looked like when the rice was cooked.

On my plate served with a tossed salad and some tortilla chips.

And here is my hubby making his blog debut. He said, "this is really good" (emphasis on the "really")

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Jan 29, 2009

At Michaels for under $5.00

I went to Michaels Crafts the other day just to look but there was so many great things and stuff just kept on jumping into my cart and my brain started to go into warp speed with ideas ( I love when that happens) and so needless to say I left with more than I had planned on. But it was all a really good deal. I was so excited about their under $5.00 isle. Crafters you have to check it out. They had so many cute things. Lots of great gift ideas. Here is what I got.

I got these chipboard books for $1.oo each and these metal garden row markers for $1.99 each. Lately small fry has been loving to look at pictures of herself. So I used on of the chipboard books to make her a book of pictures of herself. Unfortunately the pictures will not load onto this post so I can only show you the cover. I painted the edges first with craft paints then sanded them down a bit. Then I glued scrapbook paper squares in the center of each page with her picture on them. It turned out really cute. Maybe I will try and load the pictures again sometime.

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Jan 27, 2009

My new inspiration

I love getting mail. When I open my mail box and file through all the mail it always makes me happy to have something with my name on it. Seems like Greg is always getting all the mail (all those bills addresses to him...how unfair...not!!!) But yesterday there was mail for me; a package from my dear friend Charelle.
And this is what was inside. Bakerella had posted about this book on her blog. That is where I first heard of it but I hadn't opened the cover ever. Oh what I was missing. This is the best cupcake decorating book. I love it because the techniques are simple and use everyday materials. There are so many cute ideas in this. If you love decorating cupcakes you have to get this book. Thank you, thank you, thank you Charelle for my new inspiration. It is the perfect gift.
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Is that a halo I see?

The lighting was just right the other morning to get these pictures. I know, I know she looks just like a little angel; that is what we say anyway.

Crazy hair

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Jan 24, 2009

Have you ever tried Frittata?

I know, I know, this is my third post today. What is going on? Well what is going on is that daddy is home today cause it is Saturday and that means that mommy gets a little break occasionally and I just had all this new and great stuff that I wanted to share.
I know that I already tried a new recipe for this week but I was just on a roll and wanted to try another one. So I made a potato frittata for brunch today. I didn't like the directions given in the recipe (too confusing) so I will share it with everyone and try and make it easier to follow. This is kind of like an omlette/breakfast skillet just with a fancier name. Don't be scared of it's name.
The recipe: (p.s this is to make enough for 2, well if you are small eaters 4, I guess)
4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1 cup frozen hashbrowns ( I used a few more)
1/4 cup chopped onion and green pepper
8 thin slices of pepperoni (I used chopped ham instead)
1 small tomato chopped and seeded
1/4 cup shredded cheese (you can use what ever kind you want. I used cheddar)
Beat eggs and water and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a 8 inch non-stick skillet over medium high heat. (I put 2 tbsp of canola oil in mine). Saute potatoes, peppers and onions until tender.
Here are mine. I sauted until the potatoes were a bit crisp.

Pour egg mixture over potato mixture. As the the mixture sets gently pull back the edges with a spatula and let the uncooked egg run underneath. You will want to do this around the whole edge otherwise it will take forever to cook or you will risk it not cooking in the middle at all. When potato/eggs are almost set sprinkle with meat. Here is mine before I added the meat.

Now here is where the recipe got tricky. It said to broil the whole thing for 2 minutes but I had started cooking mine in a pan with a plastic handle and I can't put that in the oven to broil. So if you want to do the remaining steps in the broiler you will need to use a pan that can be put in the oven. I just did the rest of mine on the stove top and covered it with a lid. It took a bit longer to cook but turned out fine.

Sprinkle tomato and cheese over potato/eggs. Cover with lid and cook until cheese is melted and eggs are set. Make sure the eggs are fully cooked. Here is mine before the cheese melted and after and the finished product.

Comments from my husband, "This is pretty good honey." I really liked it. It was really easy to make and a bit fancier than a plain omlette. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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Make up pouches

This is a cute little idea to go along with the kleenex pouches that I made. (see the following post). I also found this idea at Skip to my Lou. I just want to quickly put in a plug for this website. She has such great ideas especially for homemade gifts. There are a variety of styles and levels of crafts. For anyone who loves crafts you have to check it out.

Anyway I was in the mood for a quick and easy little craft. I made the Kleenex pouches first and then with some of the left over material decided to try a few of these. You can find the tutorial on the website under homemade gifts in the "gifts for her purse" section. It is called a box pouch. I will not repeat the tutorial here. It does require sewing and some knowledge of sewing zippers but it is not too hard for a beginner sewer.

I tought they went really cute with the kleenex pouches and would be a great gift together. I think they are the most adorable little purses ever (and I love purses). The one thing that I did differently than the tutorial was that I cut my two outside pieces and then I cut 2 inside pieces (the same size) in a contrasting material. I put them together (wrong sides together) and attached them both to the zipper at the same time. This makes the pouch a bit more stable and the inside looks cute too.I used some old zippers my mom had around. The great thing about these is that you can use a bigger zipper than your fabric (the tutorial shows you how). I was amazed at how well they held their shape. I was sure the one on the tutorial had been stuffed to look "boxy" but it wasn't. They just hold their shape on their own. (well not when they are smashed in your purse)
Here is my make up pouch and my matching kleenex pouch. See wouldn't this be a cute little gift?
My whole Thursday craft night collection.
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Jan 23, 2009

A great little gift idea

I found this great and easy pattern on http://www.skiptomylou.org to make these cute little kleenex pouches (my brothers will attest to the fact that I am the Kleenex queen). I thought that they would be a great little gift especially for a child to give their teacher. They are very easy to make, but you have to have a sewing machine and a few sewing skills so if you don't have either of those and you want to have some of these you will need to find someone who can sew (ooh ooh pick me, pick me). You can find a tutorial for making these on the website. You click on homemade gifts to find it. I think the tutorial is really straight forward so I won't repeat it here. I just have a few suggestions that I will include with the pictures. This is a great way to use up extra material. You only need 2 pieces 6 1/2 x 7 inches. Cutting the material takes the longest then you could sew up a bunch of these on a Saturday afternoon. This is what the finished product looks like.After cutting out all my pieces and sewing them right sides together and turning them I pressed them and then sewed the flaps down one right after another in a chain. It saves on cutting thread in between each and makes it go faster.
I bought an 8 pack of tissue packs for $2.43 at Wal-mart and was able to turn that into 8 cute gifts with no other costs because I just used left over fabric.

When you are ready to put the tissue pack in your holder cut a slit in the bottom side because this makes it easier to get the tissues out. You can also take the package right off and just put the tissues in by themselves.

My cute little gifts.
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Jan 21, 2009

New recipe

Today I had some extra time this morning while smallfry was napping so I decided I would bake some sweet potato bread. I had this before when I was living in Logan and I tried baking it a few times but didn't like how that recipe turned out. I found a new recipe a while ago and wanted to give it a try. I like how this recipe turned out much more than the other but it still isn't like it was in Logan. Oh well, I have had 3 slices so far today so it must be okay. Greg isn't home yet but I am sure he will love it, only he will wish there was chocolate chips in it.

Here is the recipe including my alterations:
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil ( I use canola to help keep my dad and brother in business)
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups flour sifted (I measured and then sifted the flour. I also added an extra 1/4 cup for altitude)
1 tsp bkg soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup water (I added an extra 1/4 cup for altitude)
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (I used a can of cut yams in syrup, but I drained the syrup)
Combine oil and sugar and beat well. (I used my Bosch to mix this up) Add eggs and beat. Combine flour, bkg soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add flour mixture and water alternately (I added three large spoonfuls of flour mixture and poured about a 1/4 cup of the water each time. I just barely mixed in between as you don't want to over mix quick breads like this). Stir in sweet potatoes (I pour the can of cut sweet potatoes right in the mixer. I did have to change from my bread hook to my whisk attachement though. I probably would use my whisk attachment the whole time next time). You can add nuts to, but not in this household. Pour into greased pans. (I grease mine and then sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
Now if you decide to make it like me and use the can of yams you will need to double everything else.
It is a lot like pumpkin bread and it is super delicious (that is my opinion anyway). It doesn't taste like sweet potatoes so if you are thinking you don't like them don't worry.
Here are some pictures

These are the yams that I use. I stock up on them in the fall when they are on sale and use them for sweet potato pies and now this.
My flour mixture, egg mixture and yams
This is what it looks like when I add the yams before mixing
Here is what it looks like after mixing. Remember not to over mix. You will have little yam lumps in the batter.

My pans that are greased and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. A doubled recipe makes 3 pans.

The finished product minus what I tasted.

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