Saturday, May 31, 2008

Breakfast Cake

Since Leslie posted about Pea Soup, I thought I'd post about our family's favorite breakfast. (Trying to broaden my posts a bit...) This is by far my boys, age 9 and 3, most requested meal.

Growing up our mom made this cake a lot, also. It was originally called Coffee Cake, but since we aren't coffee drinkers, we just call it Breakfast Cake. I had to call mom to see where the recipe came from and she said her mom used to make it for her, also. She wasn't sure where Grandma got it...Maybe I'll have to call her, too.

I'm sure there are lots of great recipes out there for this same type of thing, but this is ours, tried and true! And we LOVE it!

Mix together:

1 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/3 cup Milk
1/3 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1/4 cup Melted Butter

Spread in round cake pan or 9 x 9 pan. Set aside.

Mix together:

1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

Then add:
2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
and mix all topping ingredients together. Should clump together a little bit. Pour mixed topping on top of cake.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
(If your oven stinks like mine, it will take longer to cook, but when you have a good oven, it will be perfect at 20 minutes!)

We always make scrambled eggs to go along with this. Together it is a good mix of sweet and salty. Yummy!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Pillow Cover

This little project literally took me 10 minutes max. I'm trying to cover all my pillows, but now that I've finished this one....I don't like it. The pattern is too similar to gingham. Not quite the look I'm going for. I'm bummed.

this shows the actual pattern up close. I used the finished edge of fabric so there was even less to sew.

**Anyone want to buy an 18" pillow cover for $5. It's envelope style so it can be removed and washed

Going Green...

....or blue, yellow, orange, or purple. I finally found a knitted mesh bag pattern, Everlasting bagstopper, that I liked so that I could make a couple of these shopping bags. I really don't mind plastic, but I thought I'd try harder to be a little more enviro-friendly. A year or more ago I bought a number of skeins of cotton yarn. I'm not really sure why, except that I really loved all the pretty colors. So now I am trying to use them up.This one is Sugar 'n Cream--color Sun Kissed Ombre. L. has her eye on this one. As she told me--it has two of her favorite colors: yellow and blue. Strap details--cut 27 inch length of cotton strap per side (1 1/2 yd. total length strap per bag). On the inside of the bag fold up end of strap 1/2 inch and then pin and sew the strap on with a box with an X pattern (around all 4 sides and then cross in the middle of the strap to secure).

**Here are a couple of the changes that I made on this pattern. Instead of making it with 116 stitches in the round I reduced it to 114 on the second bag. That way when you thread the drawstring it works out a little better. I don't like the two ends to be coming out of the same hole (call me crazy or anal!) I bought 1 yd. of drawstring elastic or drawstring cording. You may want to go up to 1 yd. and 1/8 to have enough "give" in the bag once you add the cord lock and knot the ends.

The first bag--blue/white combo (Lion Brand--color Wedgewood) I got carried away, wasn't paying as close attention as I should have and knitted more rows than suggested. I would definitely try and stick with the 10" suggested so that the bag doesn't hang down too low. I counted and that is about 25 eyelet holes high. I used this longer blue bag for water bottles and snacks while we were at the Omaha Zoo a couple weeks or so ago and it was hanging a bit longer than I would like it--and I'm tall. So I'm thinking that for a shorter person it would be WAY too long. However, I also washed it once we got home and it seemed to be a bit better.
When you bind off the last row I moved up to a size 8 needle, which worked just fine for me. I have read on other sites, though, that some have had to go clear up to a size 11 to make sure the binding off wasn't too tight. I think that size 8 is just fine.

For this orange version I decided to try a different method for the straps. I got the idea from this pattern, but also needed a little instruction on how to cast on additional stitches at the end of a row. That particular bag pattern didn't come with any instructions on how to do that. Once I figured that out it was pretty easy. Instead of knitting just one row and the bind off for the handles, I knit and then purl alternate rows for 5 total rows before binding off. I wanted a little sturdier handle than the pattern originally indicated.
I used Sugar 'n Cream--color Creamsicle with Peaches 'n Cream--color Sunburst for this version. M. will get this bag. She is all over orange.
I was playing around with a different edge--K3, P3 with Sunburst before making the handles.

The drawstring I thread at about eyelet row 8. This is so, if you want, you can bunch the bag up inside of itself and pull tight for storage. If you want you could put the drawstring up toward the top edge of the bag to use as a closure when you are toting things a round.

I think that my girls are going to end up using these for their own personal swim bags. B. is hoping I'll make her a pink version. Actually I am working on hers right now. I'll keep this purple combination (Sugar 'n Cream--color Jewels and Lion Brand--color Purple) for myself along with the blue/white combo.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Swimsuit Mania

School's out in less than a week for us and the public pool opens on June 7th--my kids are crazy to think that summer is just about here! We just wish the weather would act like it is going to be summer too--Monday morning we woke up to 40 degrees!! BRRRRR!

I've been making my girls' swimsuits for quite a number of years now. I was trying to think when it all started....I tend to have the mentality of seeing something and saying to myself, "I can do that just as well if not better." Also, I got tired of not being able to find swimsuits that covered my girls' bodies sufficiently. We don't do bikinis at our house and we don't do belly showing tankinis. Sometimes that limits your options for purchasing swimsuits. Another problem has occurred as the girls have gotten a bit older--they are tall and skinny and so finding suits that fit that body type can be difficult too.

The picture below is something new I tried just this year. A halter style tankini for M. I may have to adjust it some once she actually wears it in the pool. We'll have to see. She is my one daughter who is way more fashion savvy than the others. I think you can still see a faint hint of tan line from last year (racerback style suit). Too funny!! Anyway, back to favorite swimsuit patterns are from Kwik Sew. I've have used other pattern companies, but the Kwik Sew ones tend to fit better in my opinion. I am currently using Kwik Sew 2606 and 2605. The only difference between the two racerback style suits are one is for girls sizes 8-14 and the other for sizes 4-7. The baby sized pattern in this same style is unfortunately now discontinued--Kwik Sew 2512 sizes T1-T4.

I love making little baby swimsuits as baby shower gifts. It isn't something you normally receive, and it is just so fun to see itty bitty swimsuits. I usually wrap them up and put them in a plastic bucket along with some baby sunscreen. They have always been a hit with the recipients. This is a cute little 1T suit. (It may be heading to baby L. for this summer) I made it from the remaining fabric below that L. picked out for her suit this year.

This is the other piece of fabric for one of the suits that L. picked out this year. I had enough left over to make a baby 2T size so one of the cousins will probably be getting a little care package here soon.

Other styles I've made are: Kwik Sew 2422 which appears to also be discontinued. I've used this basic tank suit tons of times for little girls. This one happens to only be sizes 4-7. Looking on the Kwik Sew website it looks like Kwik Sew 2725 and 2724 may be the replacement patterns. Those patterns go clear up to size 14.
Miss B. already has about 4 swimsuits for this season, however, one of the last times I was at one of our local thrift stores I was browsing thru their fabric and found this piece blue floral piece--with sparkles!! It is gorgeous and it was just big enough for a suit her size and it was only $.40/piece. AMAZING!! At that price I couldn't pass it up. Since then I've found 2 more cute striped pieces for $.50/piece. So if you haven't ever thought of it check out your area thrift stores and you may find some fabric deals to die for.
We do sort of have the philosophy at our house, for better or worse, that every girl needs at least 2 swimsuits a year. It usually ends up to be at least 3 apiece for my girls, I must admit. You just never know what kind of mood you may be in for the day--so we need to be prepared.
This is also the 2nd year that I've "taught" (loosely put--more like been the moderator/help line) a swimsuit class for a group of ladies from our church. Here are a couple pictures from our class night a week or so ago.
Last year's swimsuit of the season was this hot pink/orange/purple floral tankini that 5 of the girls are wearing. We actually had about 15 different little girls with this same fabric. It was great when we got a bunch of them at the pool together. Most of my girls' best friends do not have sisters, so they think it is so great to match with another "sister".

HAPPY SUMMER everyone! Stay safe and enjoy the great outdoors!
You can check out my shop and see what I have currently for sale.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Over the weekend I bought this origami instruction book (complete with paper). I'm so excited because I've wanted to learn how to do this for years. I wasn't sure how the paper was going to look (ugly colors/patterns???) because it was all sealed in a box. Luckily, I like the papers (nothing too fancy. Basic primary colors and a couple of cute, simple patterns). One of the things I keep seeing in my favorite mags/blogs is an origami mobile for baby's room. Most of them use the origami cranes. I'm loving them!

So I just might have to replace L's current mobile from IKEA (below).

Or I'll just make some decorative items. Who knows....
See book details here and stay tuned for the results of my paper adventure.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Displaying children's artwork

When you have 5 children--3 of which are in school, it sures makes for a lot of paperwork that they bring home. I cannot possibly save every project or piece of artwork that they create and bring home. I do try and take pictures of lots of them before I throw them away--and we do save a number of the really "special" ones.

This past week M. (3rd grade) brought home a couple of different pieces of art that she has created and didn't want me to throw any of them away. We ultimately kept 3 different drawings that she had made and I told her that if she really wanted to we would frame one of them. She was thrilled. Part of the reason I did this is because recently she has been acting like she feels like the ugly stepsister or something. I don't know exactly why...but anyway, I was trying to do something to help her feel that she really is special in our family.

This is the drawing that she chose to frame. Charcoal drawing about 11 X 17--we cut it down some.I bought a poster display frame at Jo-Ann's, half off for $4, a large piece of black construction type paper for $1.29 and then a package of specialty brads, also on sale, for $1.79. I didn't even use all the brads. Then we made it look like it was double matted (just using paper) and attached the square brads in the corners just to give it a little something extra. She is very pleased with it and is trying to come up with the name of her piece. The artwork is actually an animal made up of various different parts of many animals so the name may be something foreign sounding.
I also added scrapbooking stickers I had on hand to mark the date that she made it. Once she determines if this piece has a name then we'll add that too. She also signed her name in the corner as any good artist would do. Not a bad little project for $7--and priceless as far as helping my daughter's self-esteem. She told me she wants it hung up in her room. I was thinking I would hang it in the dining room--but if she'd prefer it in her room that is fine with me.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Matte Cutter

My matte cutter is quite possibly the best purchase I've ever made. Seriously. I use it all the time. And it saves hundreds.

I've been cutting photo mattes all day today. Working on building a gallery wall above the couch in living room. This will include the print you see in this photo (stolen from my nic-nac shelves), those lovely needlepoint states, a few miscellaneous photographs (the ones with bright, happy colors), and Our family motto.
****Just last night Jeff quoted our motto in response to my food storage woes. That's all I needed to put things into perspective.

I'm also going to recover all my pillows in red fabrics.

...More denim quilts

Alright Emily you asked for it. Here are two of my denim quilts. The first is the one that I use on a regular basis. In fact, I normally just keep it in my van so that I always have it available for park days or whatever. I took this photo of it out in my van just this afternoon.

The only thing that I did with this blanket is the same thing that our mother did with the ones we grew up with--cut off the legs, split open the seams and try to square (or rectangle) them up as much as possible. Then I sewed them all together and serged the edges with a final serge around the entire outer edge. No backing or anything else. After I don't know how many years, some of the serging is starting to fray around the outer edge, but it has had TONS of use.
Later, after a number of my friends wanted one for themselves and I helped them, I decided to add my embroidered initial in one of the corners. Let me just be a sewing snob for one second--although I guarantee I would be able to tell my sewing handiwork apart from others, the initial was added as an easy way to tell each family's from another. I think that I did an initial on my friend Cindy's blanket once she finished hers. And I also think I did an initial on Ashlee's blanket when she and our brother got married. She'd have to confirm that one.

This kind of blanket is so easy. With mine being stored in the back of my van I use it constantly. Just as a note--you need about 9 pairs of adult jeans to make a good size denim blanket that you can use for picnics, beach, watching the fireworks displays, etc.

The second style I did was for L.'s room. I did more along the lines of the Martha Stewart style that Emily posted about. I actually undid one of the two other blankets I had made (one for the van and one for inside the house--that was great for picnics in the living room) so that I would have enough to make hers. I cut various strips of denim and sewed them together. You can see the various sizes and colors of denim that I used for hers. She is a horse nut and so this went perfectly for what she wanted to do with her room.

I topstitched randomly on the seams (every 3 0r 4 seams) using a denim double needle and denim topstitching thread. It really does make the look of the quilt.Since her room is downstairs and it remains pretty cool there all the time, I just backed it with a really nice piece of fleece. She loves it and says that she stays nice and toasty.

One of the best thing about denim quilts is that you really don't worry too much about any wear and tear, and you don't worry about staining (that just adds a little character to the blanket anyway). Our mother's old denim quilt had manure--yes, you read that right--manure stains on the quilt from a couple of pairs of our dad's old Wranglers. Nobody seemed to care.

Denim Quilt

I am trying to get myself motivated to work on my HUGE pile of denim, so I'm posting this to help move me along...

I am a huge fan of denim quilts! Our mom made a denim quilt probably 30 years ago that she still uses today out of our dad's old Wranglers. (She didn't even bother to back it, finish off the outer seam, or really cut the jeans down to a particular size--just cut the legs off, opened up the inner seam and sewed them together.) I'm sure there was a time that I was embarassed for her to pull out that blanket and use it in front of me, but now that I'm grown up I can't imagine not having one.

My hubby has a job to which he goes through (or should I say ruins) his jeans at record speed. I think we buy at least 4 new pair every fall. So my stash of old jeans is always increasing. In fact, I don't even send half decent pairs to the Goodwill because I think "I can use those for something!"   I'm sure most of the time my hubby thinks I'm nuts. He'll say shocking things like, "Why don't you just throw them away?" To think I could ever let a good, sturdy piece of quality denim go bad. No Way! :)

So, back to quilts...I am always on the lookout for cute/fast ways to make a denim quilt. Believe me, there are lots of talented ladies out there who are making dang cute blankets. I'm just not sure how easy and fast they are. I do try and make a mental note of the cutest ones and say to myself, "now that is one I should try someday."
So far my favorite "easy" way to make a denim quilt came from Martha Stewart, of course! In her October 2005 issue of Living she dedicated a whole article to denim. I was drawn to her denim quilt because it was different than most quilts, not patchwork or blocked, but rather laid out like hardwood floors.
Here is a picture of it from that article.

I made 2 matching quilts like this for my boys bunk beds a few years ago and have since decided that it is an easy way, even for beginners, to make a pretty denim quilt. So, yea for Martha!
I made mine even easier than she did because I didn't even put batting in the middle. I just made the top, backed it with a twin top sheet, and finished off the edges. I figured with the weight of the denim and it being a bedspread, I didn't need it to weigh 100 pounds. I wanted my boys to be able to use theirs during summer as well as winter. Without the extra weight of the batting, I also didn't have to "tie" it or quilt it in any way shape or form--even better!
Here is my quilt:
Quilt Top
Quilt Back--with awesome blue ticking sheets I found!
Finished edge!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Slowly, But Surely

Ok, this post is more to keep myself motivated with this project. It is so slow! I've just been working on it a bit each night after L goes to bed. But it's starting to come together. Can't wait to hang up on our freshly painted walls.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Landscaping End...

...for now. I have planted and moved around just about every plant that I want to for the season. I may do a few more here and there, but I think that I need to see what they are going to do and then possibly tweak it with a few changes next Spring. I also have a couple more landscaping rocks to place, but nothing major. I am happy with how it turned out and I think that it will be great. Eventually my gardens should have some of these specimens.

Phlox...mine already looks like this. It just spreads and so next year I should have more ground covered. I may also go buy one more little flat to divide up between the two beds and that should about cover the areas that I want.Feather Reed Grass...I am excited to have some of this against the backdrop of my lattice. I don't know if it will get this big this year, but I am hoping. This can grow to be 5' tall.The little kids and I planted the flower boxes and pots with some annuals and they look so pretty and make us happy out on our patio.

I also took care of my raspberry patch this week--pruned out all the dead stems and then dug up the strays and handed those out to whomever wanted to start their own raspberry patch. Now we can just look forward to the end of June/July when the raspberries arrive. YUMMY!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oh No!

Today I pretty much can't stand our paint color, but there is no way I'm starting all over. I don't know what happened, because I loved it as we were painting a couple days ago. Something's amiss though with this color. Jeff says it's old lady. He's right. Or maybe I just need to get stuff on the walls. Maybe because right now as the midday sun is shining through the windows it looks mint green. Nice. I guess we are going to have to live with it because neither one of us wants to do this again for a long time. I am so disappointed because I really thought I was ready to go bolder...I see stuff in magazines all the time that I love because it looks so happy and fresh. Argh!!

magazine pages I've collected

after looking at these maybe I just need the warm (orange, red) accessories to pull it all together. ?????


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