Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Crafts for Kids

Our leaf rubbings craft has been included in a DIY fall crafts for kids article on
You can see all the great ideas here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pirate Costume

Kwik Sew 3804


I made this pattern for my youngest son for Halloween--however, it first has to be displayed at my fabric store for a few weeks and then we'll get it just in the knick of time to wear for the big day.

I think that the coolest thing about this pattern is the hat. 

Mr. C. wore this around A LOT for the couple days I was working on the rest of the costume and before I took it to the fabric store.  He was thrilled and can't wait 'til Halloween.

Hubby has been requested to make a swashbuckling sword to complete the ensemble.  Last one he made for son #1 who was a pirate a number of years ago was lost within the first 5-10 houses of trick-or-treating.  Hope this one will survive the entire evening.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


35 Blocks and 1710 squares later...

I have a completed quilt top.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday 

Updated:  You can the completed quilt HERE.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vintage Stars Quilt

This poor little quilt had been sitting in my UFO pile for months.  The top was made in July 2010 with the help of the lovely ladies in my Bee Vintage Group.
But now it's finally Finished!! Yay!

 Isn't it pretty?!
This is my first bee quilt, and though I had some issues to work through I will definitely do another bee in the future.

 Renae found this beautiful blue bias striped sheet (say that 10 times fast...) for the binding.  It was supposed to be for one of these quilts, but I stole it instead.  :)  The soft blue goes perfectly with the colors in the stars.  The yellow gingham is a sheet I bought months ago, thinking I would use it for the back.

This quilt sat for so long while I figured out what I wanted to put on the back.  I had a few options in my stash but nothing was perfect.  Finally after I had resigned myself to using what I had, I found this striped sheet.  In my mind it is perfect!

Now that I've decided to do a vintage room for my girls, I'm thinking this quilt will live out it's days hanging on their wall.

Sawtooth Star Tutorial (I made 8" blocks)
finished quilt measures 59" by 67"

Linked up to Sew Modern Monday

Monday, September 19, 2011

Canning Potatoes

Even though they need to be pressure canned, and not hot water bath canned, potatoes are one of the easiest things to can.  Recently I canned a couple batches to add to my pantry/storage items.  Below are the basic directions for canning potatoes, per the Ball Blue Book.

Peel the potatoes.
Cut them up into pieces (put them into cold water w/ a little salt to keep from turning brown).
Add to jars with 1/2 tsp. salt per pint or 1 tsp. per quart.
Add boiling hot water.
Remove air bubbles.
Wipe rim.
Adjust 2 piece caps.
Put in pressure canner.
Can for 40 minutes at 10# pressure for quarts or 35 minutes for pints. (adjust pressure for your altitude)

So then you ask, "What do I do with these?"
Well here are a couple ideas.
  • Add them to any soup including Emily's recipe for potato soup.  Since they are already cooked, it will reduce your cooking time.  Heat and serve.
  • Mash them up for mashed potatoes and heat.  You may find that you like a certain variety of potatoes better than another as mashed.
  • Our cousin Tiffany uses her canned potatoes in any recipe requiring hash browns.  She'll just cut them up a little smaller if need be.
  • Also, you can drain the water and then fry them up in a pan with a couple Tbs. butter as country style hash brown potatoes, adding a little onion, green bell pepper, scrambled egg, bacon or whatever you like and have it for breakfast.
  • Make a little poor man's dinner, as Tiffany calls it, with drained potatoes, cut up pieces of hotdog (or sausage), onion, bell pepper, etc. to make a little stir fry type meal.
  • Tiffany also has a yummy breakfast quiche that she uses her potatoes for all the time too.  (She is anti-cold cereal at her house.  Which I wish I could accomplish at mine.)
I know that some people are a bit hesitant about pressure canning.  I have to say that I almost exclusively use the pressure canner because #1: I have 2 of them, and #2: it is quicker than a hot water bath.  Anything that can be hot water bathed can be pressure canned. 

During my last batch of potatoes I had a jar break in the process.  I can't say that I've seen this happen while using a hot water bath, but this is what happens to a jar when it breaks.  And this is the worst thing that I've had happen to me while pressure canning.

The bottom of the jar just pops off.  It is designed this way per my engineer Hubby. 
The only way you find out a jar has broken is when you start to remove all your jars from the canner,
lift it out, and the contents plop out into your canner.


Don't be scared.  If you can read and tell time, you can pressure can.

The Ball Blue Book indicates that you need 2-3# of potatoes per quart.  I have no idea how this would even be possible unless you are dicing the potatoes into teeny tiny pieces.  I was trying to envision a 5# bag of potatoes fitting into 2 quart jars.  I can NOT see how it would work, so I am assuming that it is a misprint in the book.

I bought 20# of potatoes and ended up with 17 qts.   Last year our cousin Tiffany canned an entire 50# bag of potatoes and got 29 quarts worth.  So I would plan on about 1 1/2 pounds per quart depending the size of your cubed potatoes.

Cost Analysis:
I paid $1.49 per 5# bag.  (When it gets closer to Thanksgiving many times in this area you can get 5# bags for under $1)
20# for $5.98.
With 17 qts. that translates into 35 cents per quart! 
I checked on canned potatoes at my grocery store and a 15 oz. can (1 pint) was on sale for 89 cents. 
A quart would cost then $1.79....vs. 35 cents if you can them yourself...definitely much cheaper.

Step by step instructions on Pressure Canning from the Ball website.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I've been working on some monochromatic blocks.
Trying to use up all my pink squares while making more blocks for my scrap-tastic quilt.

Evidently I've got too much pink in my stash.  Who knew?! 
Not sure how it will end up... but I've got some ideas brewing for these blocks... 
Aren't they lovely together?

I really love how well all the pinks work collectively.  
Not all the fabrics are expensive designer prints, yet they flow rather nicely.   

This concept of using anything and everything, putting seemingly random pieces together to make something beautiful really appeals to me (...if you haven't already noticed). 
I especially love when I can raid my scrap bin to do it!

UPDATED: Finished quilt can be found here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Let's Dance!

Here's another little project I made "for display" at my fabric store.
Kwik Sew 3887

B. is so happy to have some leotards to use for gymnastics or dance or whatever else she decides.  We don't officially take classes anywhere, but she puts on shows for us in the living room.  She wasn't particularly thrilled to learn; however, they had to go to the fabric store first, especially when cousin S. would be getting hers sent to her and she could use them right away. 
Actually Emily is saving them S.'s b-day in October.


  Love this green print
Showing off...
she loves to rub it in that she is the only one in the family who can do the splits.

--Trivia info compliments of  the Chronology game. 
"In 1859, Jules Leotard, a French wire walker and trapeze artist,
began performing in his one piece, tight fitting garment. 
It came to be known as the leotard." 

So did the unitard get named after his little sister, Eunice?

Sorry, just kidding!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Easiest little fleece hat ever

Wanting to get rid of a bunch of fleece scraps in my stash I borrowed this pattern from my friend Sarah.  She had made these cute little hats for party favors for her daughter's b-day party back in January.  B. L-O-V-E-S this hat and wears it all the time--even in Summer.

It worked out great to use up small scraps of fleece that weren't going to be good for much of anything else because of their size.  These hats whip up in less than a half hour--for sure.

We embellished them with little crocheted flowers that L. had made using all her scrap cotton yarn.  They turned out so cute. 

Out of the scraps I was able to make 14 hats for our Church's local Self-Reliance Fair that is being held today.  That should make a few little girls happy.

Kwik Sew 3833
Pattern calls for only 1/4 yd. of fabric for this pattern. 
You will probably be able to make 2 hats from that much fleece.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Peach Syrup


This recipe is super easy -- No "real" canning involved!

One of the steps when canning your own peaches is peeling them before putting 'em in the jar.  So this recipe is based on that idea.  If you are using whole peaches, just remove the seed and cut the fruit into small pieces.

1. Put peelings (or peach chunks) in a pan and add water just to the level of peelings.  Do not overfill.
2. Bring to a boil.  Turn down heat and simmer for about 30-45 minutes.  (Peelings and peaches will darken a bit and start to break down, giving you more liquid than peaches.)  Longer simmer time = more flavor.  
3. Strain out the peelings, making sure to keep all the liquid!  (I use a fine metal strainer and strain it directly into a pitcher.)
4. Measure the liquid that remains after straining.  Pour liquid back into the pan.  Add sugar at a 2:1 ratio.  (That's right, add twice as much sugar as liquid!)  So if you have 1 quart of liquid, add 2 quarts sugar. 
5. Simmer (stirring occasionally) until sugar is dissolved.  It should be a bit thicker at this point, but know that peach syrup is notoriously thinner than other types of syrup.

6. When sugar is dissolved and syrup is hot, pour hot liquid into hot jars.  Fill, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Add hot lid and ring.  Set aside on counter to seal and cool.

We use this syrup as a special treat on pancakes/waffles.  I usually can this in 1/2 pint jars so that I  have a ready made gift for neighbors, friends, and co-workers during the holidays.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

{Vintage Style} Bedroom Redo -- Bedding On the Cheap

More progress on the girls' room.
This week it's bedding.

(Eventually I'll paint that nightstand...)
 I found this yellow gingham bed skirt at one of my local thrift stores for $6.  It was a full size so I had to modify it to fit my daughter's twin size bed.  It was an afternoon project of unpicking the foot ruffle, shortening up the part that fits in between the mattresses, cutting the extra length off the ruffle, and reattaching.  But definitely worth my time.

This beautiful top sheet I got for $4!!  The lace was coming off a small section but a quick 5 minute fix and it was as good as new.  The fitted sheet I bought for $2.  It was super white and spotless.  A set of sheets for $6 -- Sweet!!

For the other bed I already had a set of sheets that would work.  During all my thrifting I came across a pink gingham king sized sheet for $4 that would work for the dust ruffle.  I took the girls' old bed skirt, cut it apart, and made new sides.  I was limited a bit by the length of the sheet so I did a pleat in the middle on each side rather than have a barely gathered ruffle.  Straight stitching also meant that the whole project took me a short afternoon to complete.

Total: $16 for a set of sheets and 2 dust ruffles.

This post is part of an ongoing series of posts about my adventures in room redecorating.  Follow along with me as I attempt to transform my girls' room into a vintage inspired beauty.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ranger's Cloak

This summer Z. has been getting into the Ranger's Apprentice series of books by John Flanagan, thanks to a recommendation from our cousin Annette and her Book Barn.  He is currently on book #9.  There is at least a #10, but not sure if there are any others after that.  I'm so happy he is reading--these books all have about 300+ pages each.

Anyway, he has decided that this is what he wants to be for Halloween, along with his friend G. They've already made their weapons. Then it was time to move onto the cloak. Z. was very specific about the color, length, how it attaches, etc. So he helped me find the fabric and then let me know that he wanted to make it himself. Fine with me.

I set him up to cut it out, showed him how to pin it together and then got him sewing.  This is a very forgiving pattern for beginners.  No need for exact fittings, only 2 slight curves, etc. 

Little brother asked me during the process when he could learn to sew too.
He was looking pretty intent there while Z. was sewing.

Originally Z. wanted it to button at the closure, per the book's description, but then we found these cool buckles.  That sealed the deal.

It turned out great and Z. is thrilled.  G. came over a couple days later and tried it on.  He is dying to get his too. 

Fleeing the scene.  It is an awesome cloak, if we do say so ourselves.

Fabric - 4 yds. panne velour for $8
Buckles - free in my stash (with 1 left for G. if he needs it for his cloak)
Pattern - Butterick 4319 view B

Friday, September 2, 2011

Who needs toys?!

Lately my oldest son has been searching for and cutting up any cardboard boxes he can find
and then confiscating all my duct tape to craft some weapons, both by himself and with his friend.
They owe me....

Here's how you make your own weapons.
Trace out your pattern on the cardboard and make at least 3 copies.

Layer them together, reinforcing them in key spots with craft sticks.
Then you start covering them with duct tape.

And more tape....

And more tape....until it is completely covered and durable.

Then add a little black electrical tape for the handle and some other embellishments

and you end up with quite the aresenal of weapons.   

Now little brother is getting in on the action.

Crafting his own little set of knives

Next on Z.'s project list:  Cut out and sew a cloak so that he can be a character from the Ranger's Apprentice series of books.  Think Medieval Warrior.

He's already got the weapons to go with the costume. 
We'll post his sewing project next week.


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