Thursday, September 27, 2012

Our Learning Calendar

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By the way, I'm aware that today is actually the 27th.
It is also not All Saints Day.
Y'all are awesome.
I mean it.

I've been getting some great ideas/requests the past couple of weeks.
Many have been for different saint dolls.
Recently a college friend and household sister mentioned the lack of cute learning calendars out there.

I did some research and quickly decided that she was 100% right, 
so as you might guess, I made one myself.

So here it is!

I tried to put all of the basics in there,
The days, number dates, and months are laminated for durability.
Plus, I always love an excuse to use my laminator. :)

The numbers for the date live in these colorful pockets.

The weather and seasons are felt 'ornaments',

Of the season and weather ornaments,
my favorites were the leaves for "Fall"...

And the kite for "Windy"

I put velcro on the back of everything.
I used the "sticky back" vecro patches, but I reinforced them with a dab of hot glue when I was sticking them to felt.

And (of course) I couldn't pass up the opportunity to throw in some Catholic details,
particularly the liturgical season,
with little felt chasubles to indicate the appropriate (geek alert!) liturgical color.

I also added a "Holidays" pocket
for feast days, solemnities, and whathaveyou.
And then a "Verse" pocket for the Bible verse of the day/week/month (whatever).
I'm currently working on a list of toddler/preschool friendly Scripture verses.
Any suggestions?

I finished it with a colorful polka dot backing,
added some loops at the top for my dowel,
and done!

I'm lovin' it so far!
I'm thinking about adding it to the Etsy shop as a made to order item,
but I have some details to work for that before it's listed.
The biggest detail is that this did take a pretty large chunk of time,
especially all of the embroidering of the lettering...
so we'll see. :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Toddler Bib Tutorial

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I haven't given you crazy kids a tutorial in awhile,
so I'm thinking I should, yes?

so Ben needed some bigger bibs awhile ago so I came up with this SUPER easy "pattern" 
(if you can even call it that).

There are all sorts of toddler bibs out there.
Some of them have wipe-able surfaces.
Some of them feature pocket things.

And they're great, really, but is my kid the only one that misses the pocket and makes a total mess anyway?
I hope not.

I needed something absorbent that I could throw in the wash.
(wiping is great and all, but too much work for a bib that I'm going to end up washing anyway. lazy? maybs.)

Anywho... here's how I made them
Note: these are for a girl, not Ben... ergo florals. You get it.


Step One:

Gather Materials.

I used some regular ole cotton prints and terry.
I also opted for pearl snaps.
You could, of course, sub velcro, but my man just rips those off (vehemently, I might add).
Step Two:

Cut fabric.

I free handed mine.
I know. I know. This is of little help to you,
but you get the gist.
Perhaps I'll go "high tech" and get a template up on here soon.


Anyway, here's some (maybe) helpful info:
the coverage portion of the bib measures approximately 8 inches tall and 9 inches wide.
The neck strap measures approximately 10 inches long from the rounded corner to the end.
It may be helpful to make a template with paper first, making a guitar shape, cutting a neck hole out of the top and then adding the strap. Did that make any sense? I sure hope so.

So you'll need one cut from the terry and one cut from the cotton for each bib.

Step Three:

Place the two fabrics together, making sure your cotton fabric is right-side in.
(Terry doesn't usually have a right side, unless it's printed).

And pin in place.

Step Four:
Sew your pieces together (I used a 1/4 inch seam allowance), leaving a 4 to 5 inch hole at the bottom so you can turn it right-side out.

Step Five:
Take your pins out and then snip around your neck hole, careful not to cut past your seam allowance.
This will help your neckline lay flat when you turn it.

Step Six:
Turn it right-side out.
Make sure you carefully get to all the corners and curves.
TIP (yay): I use a bone folder to get in there because it has a point but won't tear through like scissors sometimes do.

Step Seven:
Iron the whole thing flat.
Then, top stitch along the outside of the whole bib.
I sew about 1/8 inch from the edge.

Step Eight:
Here, I attach my pearly snaps with two females on the body so it's adjustable.
As I mentioned above, you could sub velcro, and if you want it to be somewhat adjustable, just sew a longer piece on the body side.

And that's it!
Should I be embarrassed at how simple this is?
Maybe, but I'm not. :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

I Saw, I Pinned, I Conquered.

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We just got back yesterday from camping
(Happy Birthday, Kristen!).
so maybe it wasn't hardcore wipingwithaleaf kind of camping,
maybe it was little more of tailgating in the woods
but it was the most enjoyable of experiences.
Photo Credit
So enjoyable, in fact, that I took zero pictures.
But I thought I would share some of the camping gems that I found on Pinterest which really worked out for us...
This was a massive success and oh so simple.
Click here for the details.
I did change my ingredients a bit, using cheese, rotel, and black beans,
but you could put anything you wanted in here.
Photo Credit
I was actually more than a little skeptical about this one, and to be fair, our coffeecake did not look like this,
but it did "bake" and it did taste good.
I didn't use clothespins either, opting to just wrap the whole things with foil to secure it, and that worked really well.
All in all, blueberry muffin mix and some tins... well worth it.
Photo Credit
These may been the biggest success.
As in, I will never camp without them again.
Egg carton, dryer lint, wax.
Upsides: Easy to make, you can just cut off a couple to start your fire, they work even better than the lint and wax paper variety, they're light weight, so they are an easy and worthy addition to your pack.
Downsides: none. They work that well.
Photo Credit
Okay, I'm going to be perfectly honest here...
 I dried out a TON of sage from my garden (it grows like a weed, after all) and put it into the fire...
but I have no earthly idea if it kept any bugs away.
I mean, I have no (as in ZERO) bug bites!
But who even knows???
Perhaps there were no bugs?
It was pretty darn cold out.
I'm going to give this one the benefit of the doubt and just say it works. :)
Photo Credit
These were also aaaaahhhh mazing.
This recipe is for freezer-friendly breakfast burritos to reheat in the wave,
but they are awesome for camping.
I made them ahead of time (adding some diced tomato and black beans to this recipe)
and instead of wrapping them in plastic, I wrapped mine directly in foil.
I stuck them in the freezer in bags, and they were mostly thawed out by the next morning when we toasted them up over the campfire.
I imagine since they were toasted over a campfire out in the wilderness, they were that much better.
 So there you have it!
I hope you enjoy!

And for all you pinterested pinners, please please please: let's give credit where it is due and pin from the original website. Each item has at least one link to the original. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes

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Yes I love the movie.
Yes I love the food.
At this time of year, when so many tomatoes are coming in, it's nice to find recipes using green tomatoes, and this is one of my (and everyone's) favorites.
I don't make them frequently because they're not exactly health food (surprise!),
but they are a much appreciated treat when I do make them.
A lot of recipes use cornmeal. Mine doesn't.
Other than that, I have to say it's pretty straight forward.
I like to use tomatoes that are still green (obv), but are just starting to turn (they're not so tart that way).
Slice them about 1/2 inch thick.
You want them thicker for frying.
This recipe is for about 3 medium tomatoes.
Let them sit on a paper towel for a bit so some of moisture comes out.
They'll be easier to bread that way.
Then, dip them in a flour dredge:
about 1/2 cup flour, salt, pepper, and a heaping teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning.
Shake off extra.
Dip in milk mixture:
about 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 beaten egg, more salt, pepper, and Old Bay.
Dip in breadcrumbs:
This is where most southerners would have some cornmeal.
I just use panko bread crumbs. They fry the best.
Then fry in oil for about 3-5 minutes on each side until each side is golden brown and your tomatoes are just beginning to soften, but not turn mushy.
Do this in batches so your oil stays hot.
Then place on a paper towel to cool a bit. Hit them with salt right out of the oil.
Serve them with tobasco (our choice), remoulade, on a sandwich, in a quesadilla (yes I have dont this. so good), plain, whatever... they would taste good on a tire.
My favorite: use as them at the "T" on a BLT and add sliced avacado and a fried egg.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Life's Too Short to Drink Cheap Beer

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Wrong Line
I would like to take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to plug one of my favorite events of the year:
On Saturday, Chris and I went to this annual fundraiser for which we (and many others) fight to get tickets every year.
In short, it's a beer and food tasting frenzy.
A few hours of excellence.
A heck of a lot of fun.
And just as important, a fundraiser for Construction Junction and Creative Reuse Pittsburgh,
two awesome organizations here in Pittsburgh that encourage reuse, specifically through architectural salvage.
If you live in the Pittsburgh area, Construction Junction is definitely worth a trip.
We have gotten many many many salvaged pieces there as we've completed various projects around the house (doors, tile, paint, etc etc etc),
My beer caddy.
Yes. You wear beer around your neck.
and I've made a lot of additional purchases to gather unlikely supplies for different artistic endeavors (floorboards and molding for frames, old old old mason jars for garden lighting, old windows for picture frames, etc etc etc).
At the Big Pour, you can taste hundreds of different beers from man many breweries, many of them local to Southwestern Pa.
You can also taste delicious food from restraunts in Pittsburgh.
There's live music.
You can win a kegerator.
You can craft a coaster out of reused materials.
I mean, really... what is not to love???
These are my only two pictures of the event.
I was busy.
The bad news for you all is that it's over for this year,
but it will return!
and it's worth the wait.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Putting Up Green Beans

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I was a little worried this year about my green beans.

I built a new trellis for the plants, hoping to save quality space in the garden.
I planted.
They grew.

For more info on how I built my trellis, click here.

And I have to say, the trellis worked great...
but there weren't any beans!

Long story short, I waited
and found out quickly that I really needn't have worried.

We've gotten so many green beans this year,
and the plants are still going strong.
I've been putting them up in batches because we've even been getting way more than we can eat.

Ben's new favorite activity is picking beans in the morning.
Every morning I pick and hand the beans to Ben, and he puts them in the basket.
For some reason, he thinks it's hilarious.

I don't do pressure canning as of now, just good ole water bathing,
so the only canning I do of green beans is of dilly (pickled) beans.

Luckily, I have plenty of freezer space this year.

I get all of my beans cleaned up,

blanch them in salted water for a minute,

shock them in my sink filled with ice water,

and then lay out to dry a bit before portioning and freezing them.

And that's it! So simple.
They're all ready when I need them.
And usually I need them with bacon.

Mind you, we don't have enough to really put up huge amounts without supplementing from the farmers market, but I'm just so excited that I'm able to put up any at all from my own limited space.

Overall, I am more than pleased.
What do you all do with your beans? recipes? canning? pickling?