Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: The Day 3 Became 4

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A simple (and HUGE) tote bag

Back when I first started scouring the interwebz for tutorials for reusable grocery bags, I found this tutorial for a simple reversible tote at Skip to my Lou.  I bookmarked it for future use.   

I am really into totes, bags, etc.  I think you cannot have enough.  And the cheaper the better.  So when I got the rainbow fabric on sale at Jo-ann, I also picked out this fabric (and a matching zipper, but more on that on Thursday).

I really dug the salmon/pink/white/green fabric as soon as I spotted it. And immediately remembered the tote tutorial.  Then I started looking for a green to coordinate with it.  As with most tutorials/patterns I follow, I deviated a little.  first, it's HUGE.  Literally, overnight bag huge.  instead of cutting 2 pieces of 13.5x14 for the outside, I used two entire fat quarters.  2 18x21 pieces of fabric for the outside and two for the lining.  Then I needed another fat quarter for the straps and since there was so much left over I made a pocket.  Well, a divided pocket.  That my cell phone and camera fit in perfectly. I also put interfacing on the lining and straps to give it some body.  Mine ended up not being reversible like the tutorial, because of the pocket I added.  I don't want that on the outside.

All the pieces, ready for assembly.  The inside out pocket, straps, lining and outside.

the finished bag.  See, HUGE.  I made the gussets 3 inches instead of 1.5 inches and that seems to be the perfect size. It's got nice width and depth.  
inside.  phone in one pocket.  and see the fabric in the bottom?  I'm debuting that on Thursday. Here's a hint - it's a matching zippered pouch.  And it's also HUGE.  Well, that wasn't much of a hint.  I actually just told you.  I'm pitiful at keeping most of my secrets.
So, like I said, this tote is HUGE.  I envision it being a race day tote to hold a change of clothes and possibly an entire shower stall.  ;-)   I love the colors.  a lot.

In total, I used 5 fat quarters at .99 a piece, fusible interfacing that I already had and white thread I already had.  I think that qualifies as a "cheap" tote.

Monday, August 29, 2011

When Book Jail Fails ...

Book Jail only works when I actually keep the kids (or actually, Son) out of it.

electric fence, anyone? ;-)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Food Day Friday: Hot Dog(s)

I love hot dogs, but WOW, am I particular about them.

First, We only buy Hebrew Nationals or Nathan's. You remember those red Zeiglers you ate hundreds of as a kid? man, I loved those things, but there's no way I'd eat one today.

Second, I prefer them grilled like when I was a kid. But we have a charcoal grill unlike the gas my parents have. So sticking them in the oven on broil or the toaster oven on toast is a much easier option. Boiled? gag me with a spoon.

Third, toppings. I like my hot dogs two ways.
1. with mustard, sneaky pete's sauce (when we have it) and sour kraut -- that's been dried a little. I don't like the bun to get soggy.
2. with texas pete sauce and white diced onions and when we have them crushed up dip style golden flake potato chips.
And now that I've typed this out, I'm beginning to think I'm not the unpicky eater I think I am. ;-) maybe I'm a little picky or borderline obsessive.

How do you like your hot dogs, if at all?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another Bird Adventure

Remember our baby birds adventure of 2010? Wow, I do.

Anyway, recently Daughter and I were in the yard checking on the garden when I noticed (almost stepped on) this baby bird. (sigh) Yes, he's much older than the original birds. So I was definitely less concerned about his well being. Two adult birds that look like him where flying around, so I figured his parents were apprised of the situation. He'll be flying soon. He's hopping around the yard, flapping his little baby wings. All is well.

Until we get in the house and Daughter starts crying because the baby bird fell out of his nest and he's hungry and it's scary out of the nest. (sigh) She wants to take bird seed outside for baby bird.

ok, ok. fine. We will take bird seed outside, Daughter. Not a problem.

I get a saucer, she gets the bird seed and we head outside.
I apparently got too close to baby bird because BOTH adult birds dived bombed me. seriously. Luckily, I didn't actually get pecked. I'm sure I'd still be traumatized from that mess. So, I had to explain to Daughter that I got too close to the baby and the parents wanted me/us to go away because they are scared of us.

I appreciate Daughter's concern for every living thing and most nonliving things, but sometimes, it's actually dangerous! (for me, that is)

helicopter parent. literally.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another Incredible Shrunken Dogger!

Remember last year when a Dogger shrunk while sitting in the back dash of my car?

Well, it's happened again. But to a slightly lesser degree. I think I need the tag "the kids things I trash!" Son loves to throw things over his shoulder when he's riding in the car: sippy cups, shoes, blankets, Baby. And I'm usually good at getting them out, but not this time.

Poor guy, trying to put on his favorite pair of shoes that only 1/2 fit now.

the side by side.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Beginnings of a New Quilt Project

a "rainbow" of colors, 2 fabrics in each tone

what 20 fat quarters look like when cut into 5inch charms and stacked in rainbow order
A couple of weeks ago, I went into Jo-ann to get some basting spray.  I've been putting off quilting the place mats because I didn't want to bother with pinning them all.  JSS suggested basting spray and after I saw her spray a baby quilt, I was sold.

So, anyway, I go into Jo-ann with my coupon for basting spray and what happens EVERY time I go into Jo-ann, I get hypnotized by sales.  Lots of sales.   I ended up with basting spray, thread, 20 fat quarters in a rainbow theme, another 7 for a big tote bag and matching pouch, and a zipper for the pouch.  (plus some fabric Daughter picked out)

27 fat quarters.  yes.  wow.  That's a lot.  But they are regular $1.99 and on sale for .99.  When I broke down the price per yard it was easier and cheaper to get these little babies instead of picking out a buggy full of bolts of fabric and standing in a ridiculous line to have them cut.  I was proud of my bargain.

It took me awhile to decide what I wanted to turn this rainbow theme into.  And actually, Daughter was the one who decided.I have lots of quilts pinned on pinterest (click to check out my evolving boards) and even more bookmarked on my toolbar.  Daughter was so excited about all the rainbow colors, and I didn't actually have a purpose for this quilt (besides just wanting to have something to sew) so I decided to let her pick from about 8 of my "to-do" quilts and make it a little bigger (twin bed size) so she can use it later on her bed.  Or that's the plan right now anyway.

I have made a strict rule with myself that I cannot start piecing it until I finish the place mats.  (I already finished the tote and pouch!)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Food Day Friday: Linguine with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I've been purging a lot lately. Clothes, purses, shoes, books, dvds, baby things.  I hold on to all my old Southern Living magazines for the recipes.  I don't like tearing them out, so the whole issue stays.  Well, in my desire to "get rid of"  I found The Southern Living 2010 Annual Recipes book for $10 on amazon. score.  That's 12 magazines I can donate.  When it arrived I looked through it and bookmarked recipes I already use, easy dinner ideas I'd forgotten about, fun things to try, and splendid desert splurges.

The Linguine with Sun-Dried Tomatoes in February made my mouth water as soon as I read it and because I had everything for it in the house already I tried it the next day!  I couldn't believe I didn't bull's eye this one in February!

What I used:
1lb of linguine ( I used spaghetti)
1 cup of sun dried tomatoes soaked in 2 tablespoons of olive oil (the recipe calls for 1 7oz jar in oil, a much easier option)
1/3 cup of pine nuts (recipe called for 1/4 cup but I wanted more)
6 garlic cloves, minced (recipe called for 3 but I wanted more)
1/4 cup of olive oil
4oz of crumbled feta (I have no clue how much I used bc it comes off a block, but I just tried to make it balance)
4 tablespoons of fresh basil, rough chopped (recipe called for 2 tablespoons) 
the only "in process" picture I managed to take.  basil, tomatoes, pine nuts and garlic
 What I did:
1. Prepare pasta according to directions.

2. If you're using jarred tomatoes, drain them and save 2 tablespoons of the oil.
What I did: In the morning, I dried the tomatoes (for 5 hours) after they were dried, I soaked them in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until time to start cooking, then I drained them, saving the oil.

3. toast pine nuts in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  stir often. (about 5 minutes or until toasty and fragrant)   remove from skillet when finished.  I know pine nuts are expensive, but I really suggest not skipping them.  They add a GREAT crunch to the dish.

4. saute garlic in the 1/4 cup of olive oil AND the oil from the tomatoes for about a minute or until fragrant.  stir in tomatoes and remove from heat.

5. Toss together tomatoes/garlic, hot cooked pasta, feta, basil and pine nuts.

What I got:
seriously the best meal I've had in weeks.
This was one of those super easy meals that by the time your water has boiled and your pasta has cooked everything else is ready and waiting for it to be tossed together.

The sweetness of the tomatoes and the saltiness of the feta ... wow.  the basil.  the crunch of the pine nuts.  The garlic and tomato infused olive oil.  WOW.  This really is my new favorite meal.  Husband agreed too.  It's a big hit in our house.

And as an added bonus, it's made from stuff that we already had in the kitchen or garden.  In the winter and spring we'll have to buy jar tomatoes and fresh basil but during summer and most of fall, we are READY.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

He likes it when I wear his clothes - A Smock

 Recently, Tiffany shared a blog ( with me she thought I'd enjoy.  And I do.  Sewing ideas, recipes, gardening inspiration ... Lots of fun stuff.  And most relevant to THIS post, a tutorial on how to make a Mushroom Smock.

Husband likes to wear his clothes until they literally fall apart.  And when a dress shirt falls apart he gives it to me to add to my fabric stash.  He has this grand idea that when he's dead (or donates enough shirts to the cause) I will make quilts for the kids out of his dress shirts.  It's a fabulous idea, but right now I only have 5 shirts to work with (well, 4 now that I've made this smock!) so it's a future future project.  I didn't mind taking one from the stash.  Plus, he likes it when I wear his clothes.

So I decided to pick out my favorite shirt and make it into a smock, thanks to the easy to follow tutorial.  And it was super easy (esp since I opted not to make the mushroom or any other applique on the pocket).  A few cuts and sew on some binding.  easy peasy.
First I cut the sleeves off RIGHT at the seams.  It leaves a nice big arm holes.  Which is nice for ventilation but also means I have to at least wear a tank top under the smock if I leave the house in it ... And yes, I've left the house in it!
Next, it was recommended I use a dress form or a willing model to cut the neckline.  Well, I have neither.
So ...
I picked a shirt that I LOVE the neckline on and traced the front and back neckline as best I could with washable marker. Then cut carefully and evened it up the best I could.
Next, I put binding around the raw edges of the neck and arms.  I used a light blue fabric of Nanny's that most closely matched the shirt and used RED thread for a little pop of color.

I was going to skip the pocket all together, but after I wore the smock around for awhile, I noticed I kept reaching for imaginary pockets ... so the next day I added one.

My model and I.  She wanted to BE in the picture instead of TAKE the picture so I had to resort to the tripod and timer.

I added this on the opposite side of the pocket.  Since it was his shirt and now it's mine.  And I love him and all. I need to work on spacing and lining up my letters better, but as a first attempt, not horrendous.

Some of the fancy stitch I did on the pocket so distract from the fact that I opted out of a cute applique.

It's fun and comfortable and easy to make.  success.  Thanks, StitchAndBoots!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Garden Update

Lots has been going on in the garden.  Lots. And lots is already finished.

When the squash bugs came a couple of weeks ago, I pulled up the cucumber, squash and zucchini.  It definitely wasn't the "oh no, will I? won't I?  I can't give up on my plants wah wah wah." that is was last year. I didn't have the time or energy to inspect every leaf for eggs everyday.  Up they came.  

While they were still in the dirt, the cucumbers did great, I was picking 5 or 6 a week and I used all of them for either salads or tzatziki.  The zucchini did really well too.  I was picking about 3 huge ones a week.  And either grilled slices or used them in vegetable curry.  The yellow squash didn't do so swell.  I think I only picked 4 all season. I think it was mostly because of being crowded by the zucchini.  The 4 I did pick were fantastic.  I'll have to be smarter about garden placement next year.

a musk melon.  We've already cut into 1 and I'm excited for this one

the biggest and best butternut squash.  The plant this one is on gets the most sun.  The rest of them are much smaller. 

the sweetest cutest (not smart) mut I know.  Every time I tried to take a picture of a plant, he'd step in between me and the plant until I took his picture. Come to think of it, maybe he's not so "not smart" after all.  :-)    

One of Husband's fennel.  We've both excited about these.  There's 7 of them.

one of the carrots.  The kids are excited about these!  Some are clumped together more than others and of course the ones that have more space look like they'll be bigger.

bell pepper

Thanks to these babies, it had been a bench mark year for us in terms of canning.  Wow, they taste fantastic.

Daughter's husky cherry red.  MAN, this thing is a SUPER producer.

I dug up the onions a couple of days ago.  And that's really all for the garden.  The basil and mint are still doing their thing and growing and growing.  It's been a good year for the garden.  And it's not over yet.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Discounts at the Zoo = We're There!

 Two weekends ago the zoo had $5 admission and FREE carousel rides.  um, YES.   So, after a morning of errands, we spent Sunday afternoon at the zoo.  (and I packed swim suits for the splash pad)

Husband and this rooster while the kids played at the splash pad

oh my! We rode the carousel 11 times.  And no, I am not exaggerating.  The kids picked different animals every time and loved every second.  I told Husband they will NOT understand why they can only ride it once next time we go and it actually costs money!  FINALLY, I lured them away with promises of the butterfly house and petting zoo!
On the Zebra.  Her favorite animal to look at while at the zoo is also her favorite animal to ride on a carousel.

The back of Son, Husband excited to be on a rabbit and Daughter in the background in a frog. 3/4 family picture.

Son got really excited when I showed him the mirrors on the inside.  He spent an entire ride just watching himself!

His favorite was the giraffe

Standing still in the butterfly house, waiting on a butterfly to land on us.
(Notice I'm wearing the Red Knit Maxi Dress?  Two ladies in Jo-ann and one at the zoo asked me where I bought it.  That was nice.)

This is the part of the day when we went to the petting zoo and a LLAMA SPIT ON SON AND I.  sigh.  And that's all I really want to say about that.  Son is still talking about it though.  "Mommy, llama 'pit on me."  "Yes, I know, buddy.  Me too."  Have you ever had to pretty much take a shower in a sink in a public restroom after a llama covered you in his spit and partially eaten food?  Well, say a prayer tonight thanking God if your answer was, "no."  And, sorry.  There is definitely no pictures of the llama incident.

riding train.  I was more interested than anyone else in the party.  I found the interesting information the conductor was saying, really interesting.

After the train ride, we were ready to go.  But Daughter asked for one more carousel ride.  And you want to know what she wanted to ride?  THE LLAMA.  "p-cause he spit on you and Finny and that was really silly."  Unfortunately for her, there was no llama and she had to settle for a deer that she said was a llama. seriously.

BTW, here is an old Wordless Wednesday of me at the zoo.  I'm probably somewhere between Son and Daughter's age.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Food Day Friday: Roasted Chickpeas

I've enjoyed Roasted Chickpeas since Megan shared her recipe for them over a year and a half ago!   And I follow it, except for one little change: when I add my seasoning.  I found that adding the seasoning AFTER the chickpeas have roasted help retain the flavor of the seasoning and prevents the seasoning from burning.

my copy, straight out of my recipe book (ie a 3 ring binder with page protectors for the recipes)
When I'm only using one can of chickpeas, the time on this is right on.  But when I use a 1lb bag of dry beans, I have to add more time.  I usually do 27 minutes at 350 and 17 minutes at 400.  And because the kids and I are all big fans of this snack, I usually end up either using more than one can or a whole bag of dried beans (which is a more time consuming process but SO SO SO much cheaper).  

the result. a nice golden brown.
Depending on how heavy handed I drizzled on the olive oil, I usually have to drain the chickpeas in a colander before I season them.

My favorite way to season them is salt, cumin and chili powder (sometimes garlic powder).  I just use all the seasonings I would use to make hummus.  It's fabulous and healthy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Another quick trip to Mobile

Last Thursday found us in Mobile again. Our McWane membership was put to good use and we visited the Exploreum again. Or as Daughter calls it, "the other McWane." Then a late afternoon trip to the beach. And a drive over to Florida for some actual seafood for dinner before driving home.

ringing the bell. She also spent a lot of time at the Light House alerting everyone to the "loud storms" that were coming

Son spent a lot of time "swimming"
Then we headed to the beach. oh my. It was fantastic.

Son built a sandcastle.

Daughter tried to fill up "The Hole" with ocean
And Husband and I tried and tried to get the kids to play in the water with us. We picked them up and carried them out about thigh deep for us, and they were just having none of it. So we backed off and let them do their own thing. Before we knew it, the boy who thought the beach was trying to kill LOVED the beach.

sigh. I loved it and took a ridiculous amount of pictures in order to document the love properly.

WHAT? yes. He did this on his own!

He loved the yellow flag waves. I cannot even describe his happiness and excitement

He took a tumble or two in the surf but got right back in for more.


He also did a fair amount of running and by that I mean he would just take off down the beach as fast as he could and Husband and I would take turns following him. When he got tired of heading one way, he'd turn around and go the other. We ALL got a workout and it was fun.

Daughter definitely enjoyed the water and sand as well, but that's not anything new. Doesn't this make you wince? It does me. I'm just not built to do that anymore!

No one really wanted to leave, but Husband and I were very hungry. So we started talking about "The Restaurant" which always works in getting the kids motivated to leave a place. They love eating out. Initially, Husband and I wanted to find this place close to the Florida line, on the water but not on the main drag, but we couldn't remember the name or how to get there. All we remembered was it was the last place we ate at the beach before Daughter was born and they have great royal reds. It was 8:00 and the kids were in no mood for all the riding around. So we settled on the Shrimp Basket in Florida. It's across the street from the ocean and bonus: we ate outside.

EXTRA BONUS: "Market Price" for crab claws at the beach is much cheaper than "Market Price" for crab claws in Birmingham. sigh. and they were fabulous. And there was shrimp in the cole slaw. AND the hush puppies were amazing. AND the shrimp was splendid. It was fabulous and then we headed home.

Trip well enjoyed.