Thursday, February 28, 2008

Parade of Unrelated Items

Who doesn't love a parade? Especially one that involves pictures!

First there were these.... (cloth books)

and then there were these... (patchwork apron and potholder)

And then this... (mini ironing mat and iron, of course)

So why am I showing you all of these totally unrelated projects? Because they all were to learn skills. The first, to fussy cut and decorative topstitch, the second the piece patchwork together and practice binding, and the third to practice binding some more! LOL

All of this is to complete this project:

Baby n's quilt! No, no it's not done, but I thought I would show you a little peek :). I still have to get the quilt batting, thread, and needles to finish. It wasn't as intimidating and scary as I thought it would be. I decided to practice all of the quilt making skills a little at a time so it wouldn't be totally overwhelming. The hardest part was figuring out how to make the binding look nice. I could do a functional binding, but honestly they didn't look the greatest. Now I am confident the quilt will look pretty good when it's done. Just gotta go to the store!
What am I working on now being as the quilt is on hold? It has minkee and birds and is for little i :P
Love Annmarie

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mama, i can sew too!

Little i has taken a liking to my sewing stuff, so santa brought him his own sewing materials. Anyone had these cards as a kid? I did made me so happy to find them and share them with my kids.

Little i proudly displaying his 'i did it, i diiiid iiit' sewing.

Wait how does this work again?
How is the quilt coming, you ask? Very well! I have about half of the fabrics cut and then neglected it all weekend because I had to test out my new bamboo crochet hook!
Love Annmarie

Friday, February 22, 2008

Cute Skirts Skirt

Another finished project. 'sigh' really and truly nothing better. Today it is the Cute Skirts skirt from Favorite Things Cute Skirts pattern. I don't know what it is, but I simply am unable to call it a cute skirt, it is the cute skirts skirt. Anyway, I made the panel skirt (has 8 panels), it has a flat front, and elastic back so no zippers for the zipperphobic (Mum!). This was a fairly easy pattern to follow, but perhaps not the best for someone who has never sewn a skirt. There are no lay out directions for cutting fabric and no mention of hemming the panel skirt (the flounce variation mentions a 1/8th inch hem but not the panel directions). Not a great problem for me, but someone new to sewing might get confused and frustrated.

Isn't it nice and spring-y (can you tell I like nice weather!)? Now only if it would be nice enough outside to wear it!

I was wearing a sweater that did not show the waist at all- it lays nice and flat in the front.

And the back is gathered and fuller looking.

So can you see where I was short fabric? If you can't tell then I won't! All in all, a fun pattern to sew and I think I will definitely make it again.

And now because it IS so cold outside I made baby n some crochet longies. Longies are usually wool and used with cloth diapering but I think they are incredibly cute just for kids to wear. But I cannot use wool (have skin allergies), so these were made using worsted weight acrylic yarn that I had laying around the house and US 8 hook (I tend to have a loose tension so need a smaller then recommended size). I crocheted in the round and increased in the bottom area. They are by no means perfect but I did them in one evening and they have survived 2 meals, 8 trips around the house, and 1 grocery shopping trip!

In completely unrelated events: when making bread in a bread machine over night, one must press the start button to actually have bread for breakfast and not a pile of water, butter, cranberries and flour. Umm oops. :)
Love Annmarie

Monday, February 18, 2008's a secret

I haven't been able to post my current project-it's super secret. Well, not a secret what I am making, it's a baby carrier, but a secret at to who will receive it. So sorry, no pics, not going to ruin the surprise :). But I will show y'all upcoming projects.

There. Pictorial evidence that I have these craft books. So now I really have to do a review of them! I was thinking at least one project from each and an overview :). Except the business ones, there are no crafts to do in those! At least that is what I've been telling myself I had to do before I could buy anymore craft books!

If you guessed quilt for quilt month you would be correct. It's okay that I start the quilt in Febuary, i don't necessarily have to finish it, right? It's for baby n, so my plan is to finish by his first birthday in April. (One year in April?!?! It can't be a year already!)

Yup it's another short post-gotta go make sure the boys are eating their snack and not decorating the floor with cereal.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Crochet Zen

Oohh ooh! I have completed my first crochet project following a pattern. Which is pretty great considering I have been working on a baby blanket for... 2 years? 0r 3? hmm I think it was at least 3 moves. Anyway finished project- the crazy easy urban soft newsboy cap on (the one linked is sold but she lists more ;) It is a great pattern and honestly, it's easy. I even learned how to do a double half something or other that I have never understood. Uses the absolute biggest crochet hook ever: size Q, which makes it all the more fun for some reason. I didn't quite get the the stitches tight enough on the crown but I managed to shrink it just right in the dryer.

And here it is. The most beautiful color of blue: which is extra special to me because it was one of our wedding colors! I think I might add a sweet little red flower or button w/a cream center and have all of our colors.

Little i has already aquired it as his own, so I guess I should try making the child's sized cap!

Now for the zen. Little i's work, of course.

Don't know what you are looking at? That would be the snack food from the snack food bucket (which is on the right) in the boys' bug catcher net. Apparently he wanted to catch a little snack. and the three toys behind the net- yes they have tiny portions of trail mix in them. Makes me giggle every time I see this picture. The snacks ARE in a child proof cabinet- but little i can open it :O!!

That's it for today.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hoping for Spring

I hope everyone enjoyed Super Fat Tuesday. We did, made some red beans and yes, yes, I yet again forgot to make the rice! Everytime. Good thing beans can just simmer and cornbread can warm. :) I completely forgot to thank my wonderful friend Denise for loads of info on Louisiana and Cajun cooking: Thanks girl!

Anyway, I didn't mean to go missing for over a week, but the internet has been sick. Did anyone elso notice? I couldn't get anything to work properly: email, picture uploading, forum posting, you name it, broke. Now it's better so I am back with a few pics while we wait for warm sunny spring days. How about a little bouquet...

of buttons!! Yes really! Now that I have long enough hair for baby n to pull, I have two options: chop it off again and be called 'sir' constantly, or put it up in a ponytail. I opted for ponytails, but wanted something a little fun, and as you can see I now have lots of fun hair ties!

A lovely mama on a forum I frequent mention fabric covered button kits. I had a deep aversion to fabric covered buttons (like some people avoid zippers) after a particulary scarring 3 hours spent fighting a covered button, which ended in my declaring defeat.

Ahh but it needn't be this way. Thanks to a nifty little tool kit:

Yes it is called a fabric covered button kit- I know how original, but whatever you do- don't get the half ball covered buttons that says no tools. Believe me when I say it is worth the extra .70 odd cents for the kit. That's what you need at the left. The tool kit: the white base and blue pusher, the back and front of the button. A paper template cut twice the size of your button, ponytail holder, thread and needle, and pretty fabric.

This is another one of those projects that is great for using scraps or even swatches.
Cut your fabric using the template and place inside the base, then place the button front inside that (shown at right). Tuck the fabric in, place back in the base and use the pusher to pop the back on. That's it! A nice smooth button with no fabric wrestling and fighting slippery metal!

Sew the button securely to the ponytail holder and volia...a pretty for your hair!

The nice part is most of the sizes, they run from 7/16th to 1 1/2, have refills, so hang onto the base and pusher. They are usually found on the notions wall next to other sorts of fasteners and not with commerial buttons.

Here's one 'in action':

It's another one of those self portraits, so again, forgive the quality-I really must have Kev take pics when he is home and awake!
So how about making yourself a little springy bouquet? They don't necessarily have to be ponytail holders: buttons also work as a brooch, on a purse or wristlet, or liven up a bit boring skirt. It really is easy as sewing a button!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Mardi Gras! Let's Party

In honor of Mardi Gras next week, I thought I would share a red beans and rice recipe. When we lived in Louisiana, I got to hang out with some great ladies that were excellent (southern) cooks. They kept telling me that their really is no recipe- you just do it. Well after many phone call and conversations I finally got the whole process down. Then when people asked me for the recipe, I would say there really isn't one! But I finally got it written down for a friend and decided others might like it too. This requires a little bit of planning and work the day before, hence why this post is so early. ;)

First a little history (what fun would it be w/o a history lesson?). I was told that Red beans and rice was usually made on Mondays, as that was laundry day. The pot could be on cooking all day and required little work, unlike the labor and time intensive washin'. The ingredients were easily found and fairly inexpenisive. Celery, onions, and green peppers are 'the holy trinity' of Louisiana cooking, but not everyone likes them. Which is okay, you can leave something out if you don't like onions or the price ($4 each!?!?!) of peppers.

Mardi Gras is celebrated all over in Louisiana (as well as a few other states), not just N'awlins (that is New Orleans, to those of you who may not know). People very often have the day off from work and school and celebrate. Families and friends will enjoy crawfish or crawdads (crayfish), creole, red beans, and jambalaya, just to name a few. The king cake is the finisher of the great meal, decorated in purple, green, and gold (or yellow), and a small item (a plastic baby, but we used a toy soldier army man) is placed in the cake. Whomever gets the item is king for the night and gets the king beads (usually just bigger and flashier) and privileges (can't remember what now!). Okay history part done.

1 bag of dried red beans (usually about 12-16 oz)
1 onion
1 green pepper
several stalks of celery
Creole seasoning, We use McCormicks but there are several brands available
1 package of Sausage: If you like it and it is available, andouille sausage OR kielbasa sausage (this is what we normally use, even when in LA)
Hot sauce, like Tabasco
Rice, white or of your liking
Biscuits (I cheat and use refrigerator ones)

yes this is in bold so a body doesn't think this is a meal you throw together 30 min before you want to eat :)
Sort, rinse and soak the beans- if you MUST, you can use the quick soak method, but I am tellin you it AIN'T as good!!

The day you want eat:
In the morning, rinse your beans again and layer in your pot (on stove or crock pot) beans, some water, creole seasoning, hot sauce, keep layering until all the beans are in the pot. I don't really know why it is done this way verses dumping the beans and then adding the seasonings, but it seems to work better (maybe, perhaps, because there are too many beans to stir properly) Have on about medium heat (don't want the pot to boil over but need the beans to cook)

Dice your vegetables

About lunch time, depending on how soft you like your veggies, add your diced veggies as well as a little water if needed and some more spices. Be sure to check and stir your pot.

Sometime in the afternoon: the beans should start breaking down and thickening at this point, DO NOT add water, you want a nice thick chili-like mixture by dinnertime. Taste to see if you need more spices.

About a half an hour before you want eat: Chop up sausage add to mixture, heat thoroughly. Make rice. I know making rice should be a given, but I always forget!!

Dinnertime: throw on your beads, grab your mask, play some cajun or country music and enjoy a big bowl of red beans served over rice! Yum, Yum!

-There are no measurements for spices because it is really to taste. Little i looooves red beans and rice so we go a little easy on the hot sauce and add ours at meal time.
-Yes it really need to cook all day. Or you can eat rock hard beans w/no flavor. If you are home all day, like on the weekend, you could throw everything in the pot and go outside and play or read a book, build the 25th lego tower of the day, whatever you do at home, and then reheat on the stove for about an hour the day you want to serve it. (I won't tell, I have even done this a time or two!)
-Sometimes I have a hard time using the crockpot to cook the beans.
-This make loads of food, and freezes well.
-If I have friends over, I will make jumbalaya too, but I just use the recipe out of the Betty Crocker cookbook, So I won't add that recipe!

Hope y'all try something new and laissez les bon temps rouler! (let the good times roll!)