Monday, February 8, 2016

Pink Camouflage Wristlets

I have a dear friend who loves pink camouflage.  Seriously loves it.  For Christmas, I surprised her with a tote bag  (which I forgot to photograph) out of pink camouflage and, as anticipated, she loved it.  Really, really loved it. 
Pink camo - who knew??
Now, personally, I'm not a huge fan of pink camo (really, of any camo);  I don't understand it.  Are you hiding in the Barbie aisle at Toys R Us?  I just don't get it.  Still, it was a labor of love and she truly loved her Christmas present, which was my goal, after all.  I decided to use the leftover fabric to surprise her with another gift and I ended up having enough fabric to make a little something for her daughter (another fan of pink camo), too. 

Mother - Daughter gifts...
(I always by extra fabric when I'm making something specific...I'm terrified to run out of fabric.)  Anyway, it turned out that I had just enough fabric to make two of Dog Under My Desk's "The Essential Wristlet". 


Spiral bound from my local copy shop.  Lays flat for me to flip
through the instructions as I sew along, one step at a time.
If you haven't discovered Erin's patterns, you're in for a treat.  Her instructions are so detailed, and her photos so clear, you just can't go wrong.  Since I've been making her stuff, my skills and my confidence have increased tremendously.  Plus, I love that her  "thing" is that she loathes exposed unfinished seams, so you always have a nice, polished result when you make her patterns.

Pocket detail on the inside of each.
So, back to my project.  Two Essential Wristlets with boxed corners.  I also decided to embroider each woman's name on them, for a little added touch. 
Awesome pattern nets awesome results!

I think they turned out really well.  The wrist strap is detachable and the bag measures 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches, so its a really nice size.  I think my friend and her daughter will be pleased.  Best of all, no more pink camo in my fabric stash...it has all found its rightful home.
 
 
 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Food for Thought

Photo credit:  charmsalonaurora.com


"It seems to me that no matter what religion you subscribe to, acts of kindness are the stepping-stones to making the world a better place--because we become better people in it."


 -Jodi Picoult

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Adorable Baby Coat

My son's friends had a baby last summer...it's a strange thing when you realize your kids are legitimately old enough to have friends who are married with children...I guess that means it is highly unlikely that I am still only 27.  Reality might be setting in...



Anyway, my son's friends had a baby girl last summer and I just made her the most adorable coat.   (I'm a terrible photographer, but trust me, this coat is truly adorable.)   I got the pattern from Etsy.  I really like the indie patterns available for download.  The ones I've found have tended to be terrific and the instructions make them oh so doable, even for a novice.

Too cute for words...I love the texture of the outer fabric.
The outside of the coat is a polyester suiting fabric...the texture makes it substantial without being heavy.

Love this bright, happy cotton print.
The lining is a lightweight quilting cotton.

Matching buttons...too cute!

The hood is designed to be folded back to show the lining.
I used the Hearts Hoodie pattern from Puperita. 

My local copy shop binds my PDF patterns for me.  Love the ease of this format!
 
It generously includes sizes from newborn to 5 years old.  Now that I've finished the coat, I can recommend the pattern with confidence.  It really was a breeze to make.  The directions were quite clear and easy to follow and the results were gratifying.

Just what a well-dressed baby needs for spring!
Will a 6-month old baby girl appreciate it?  Nah.  But her mom sure loves it!  Definitely a win.

Friday, February 5, 2016

You know you have a good life when...

...you realize that you are fortunate enough to catch 99.9% of the pens that go through your washer BEFORE they end up in the dryer.  (We just won't talk about those sneaky lip balms.)





...and a 9-year old girl invites herself to your house to color with you (and she's not even related to you!!)...


Yes, my life is pretty good.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

It Really Is Enough...

Over the past few years, I've watched as my children chart their adult courses, trying to determine what they'll want their adult lives to look like.  It's fascinating.  One dreams of wealth and one secretly dreams of writing the "Great American Novel"...pretty typical stuff.  But one of my kids wonders why modest dreams are discouraged.  Why is it that we can't aim to have a job that allows us to provide well enough?  Are dreams only worth pursuing if they're flashy?  Do we really have to "go big or go home"?


This blog post by A Life In Progress is bouncing around FB right now and this blogger tackles the same issue, far more eloquently than I. "What if I all I want is a small, slow, simple life? What if I am most happy in the space of in between. Where calm lives. What if I am mediocre and choose to be at peace with that?  But what if I just don’t have it in me. What if all the striving for excellence leaves me sad, worn out, depleted. Drained of joy. Am I simply not enough?" Interestingly, the comments on the post are as powerful as the post itself.  She is not alone.  There are a lot of us asking the same questions about life. 


It seems to me that we need to start asking ourselves what definition of excellence we're using?  What definition of successful are we measuring ourselves against?  What value judgment are we placing the adjectives we use to define our lives?  Why are words such as "small", "simple", "plain", and "humble" deemed negative?  When we flip a coin, one side is not inherently better than the other, so why are we judging our lives in such a manner? 


I have loved being a stay-at-home mom.  Seriously.  I love this simple, unexciting-to-many life.  I don't dream of huge purchases (although the carpet is pretty bad!) or a lavish lifestyle.  I can't even imagine myself living that way.  I love my old car, it does the job for me.  I love CrossFit, even though I suck at it.  I love sewing, even though I still haven't made my own wardrobe.  I love having all these animals (four dogs, two cats, three birds, and one hamster, at last count!), even though it feels chaotic at times.  I love having time for my family and friends (although my sister and I really need to live in the same time zone!) and for learning new things and making friends where I live and being part of the community.   I especially love my family, even though they're crazy making at times.  I love myself, even though I'm not young or beautiful or skinny or cellulite-free.    


Before I lived this life, I was a secretary.  I loved that job, too...I love being behind the scenes, helping everyone stay on track.  I never wanted to be the Big Boss...I just liked making the Big Boss's life easier.  I've always been this way, as far back as I can remember.  I liked working at McDonald's when I was 16, I liked being a receptionist when I was 17, I liked being a hostess at a restaurant when I was 19, and I liked being a dispatcher for small company when I was 22.  I like When I was a very little girl, I wanted to be a nurse, never a doctor, because doctor's rushed in and rushed out, while nurses stayed to take care of the patients.  I've always wanted to be the caretaker.  It's just who I am and it is good. 


When I remember I like who I am, and ignore the messages of "not enough" the world sends, life falls into place.  My family is happy, my household hums, my spirit sings, and I have joy and friendship to share.  


So, as I counsel my child who is going to be rich, I say, "May I have a small guest house on your estate?".   


When I talk with the one who is secretly dreams of writing something that will be received with worldwide acclaim, I say, "Keep writing...you've always loved it."   


And, as I counsel a child who wonders if modest is enough, I have to say, "Yes, it really is enough".  


We need the modest and we need the flashy.  We need the quiet and we need the loud.  We need the chaos and we need the calm.  And we need everything in between.  There is a place for each of us, if we're brave enough to fight for it.



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sleeve Garters-- Perfect for Your Baggy Sweaters

I'm sure we've all seen the images of a bygone era where men wore sleeve garters which looked something like this:


Photo Credit: Western Emporium
These were functional staples of a man's wardrobe, designed to customize the fit of his shirt and protect it from the grime of the day. 
Photo Credit: Norman Rockwell Museum Store



We don't see them often today, although even David Beckham gave them a try.  (Who knew?)   Having said that, this is NOT a post advocating you encourage your husband to adopt them.  Not even close.


It's sweater weather and I love oversized sweaters, but I don't like baggy cuffs and dangling sleeves.  From getting in the way to being a danger when I'm cooking, my sweater sleeves need to be kept off my hands.  Using a pony-tail holder has worked to keep my sleeves up and out of my way in a pinch, but cutting off the circulation in my arms really isn't fun, so I really needed a better alternative . I headed to my computer for inspiration.


Photo Credit: Quaint Street- Ebay
I remembered these bands...my mom had a pair or two in the 80s, and, while I loved the idea, they were too small for my forearms way back then, so they definitely might be a problem now (that whole circulation issue).  Still, I pulled up Amazon and gave them a quick search and you can still buy them here, if you're interested.  When I pulled up those bands, though, the sleeve garters for men came up, too, and an idea was born.


I decided to make my own sleeve garters out of ruffled elastic.  I could customize the length and the color to suit my needs, plus I could do this project really, really inexpensively.  Ruffled elastic comes in many colors at your local Hancock Fabric or any other fabric store.  It runs about $3.00 a package (use a 50% off coupon and it will be even better).  I have a lot of black sweaters, so I made my sleeve garters black to blend in.



 I cut two lengths of elastic each half an inch larger than the circumference of my forearm (where I wanted my sweater cuffs to rest).  Then I sewed the ends together to make a circle and a sleeve garter was born. (Be careful not to twist your elastic...you want your bands to lay flat.)


After that, it was a five minute sewing project (no machine needed if you don't have one!) and I had sleeve garters.

Just slip the garter on the outside of your sweater sleeve and roll it into the cuff as you roll (or one fold and then push!) your sleeves up. 


They stay up all day without cutting off your circulation as long as you measured your elastic correctly.  (Honestly, it was much more difficult to take a picture of my own arm than it was to make the sleeve garters.)

You can use them for any kind of sleeve that you want to keep higher up on your arm...blazers, blouses, sweatshirts.  Super simple problem solver!




Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Neglected, but not forgotten...

My blog has been neglected for the past two years (at least!), while I got on with navigating this thing called life.  Before my eyes, my children went from children to adults (almost completely) and what they wanted and, importantly, needed from me changed drastically.  There were growing pains for us all.  Here's the thing:  I've loved being a stay-at-home mom.  I know not everyone does and that's okay, but for me, I've loved it.  I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be and where I wanted to be.   I never resented the opportunity costs associated with staying home. 


Change is inevitable and unavoidable and, if I'm honest, to be desired.  After all, if I've done my job correctly, my children will be independent, capable individuals who will not need me to wait in the wings, managing their lives from the shadows.  And, if the past few years have been any indication, I've done a terrific job.  My children are fascinating individuals, each charting a different path, as they wind their way toward adulthood.  I couldn't be more proud of them for bravely charting their courses (and I'm pretty proud of myself for letting go of the reins so they could!).  They've taught me so much...I continue to be transformed by the privilege of raising them.


A quick recap of the kids, and then they won't be here much (adult privacy and all that!):  Charming has been living out of the house for almost 6 years and will be 25 next month.  He's a terrific person who is teaching himself piano and programming in his free time...oh, and he's getting ready to run his first half-marathon.  Valiant is going to be 20 next month and is a Junior at EWU with a goal to finish with two degrees (one in Mechanical Engineering and one in Physics)...yeah, he didn't get that from me.  When he's not at school or work, he's contemplating Descarte or religion and is active in his church.  Buttercup will be 17 in two months...she's attending both the local junior college (through Running Start) and our local high school, where she throws javelin and does all sorts of creative things with pottery.  When she's not at school or work, she can be found tooling around in her little truck, most likely headed to or from one gym or another, or headed off to a sporting event.  (Oh, yeah, she's pretty darned pleased by the Carolina Panthers right now...she's a fan.)


So, back to my blog...now that you know where I've been, I hope you'll forgive my absence.  I have been doing so much, I'm eager to get back to sharing it with you.  Random thoughts, sewing projects (I'm pretty proud of my progress!), my CrossFit fails (a shoulder injury a few years ago seriously derailed me...still no pull-up, darn it!!), mostly grain-free recipes (Amish Baked Oatmeal is still a morning favorite--haven't given up oats entirely!), DIY, and anything else that occurs to my blogging mind.


Anyway, to the people who asked (last year!) where I got the wheels for my New Craft Table, my husband just found them at Home Depot.  They're nothing special, you could use any that will support the weight of your table.


That's it for now...have a great day!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Almond Flour Pancakes That Will NOT Leave You Wishing for REAL Pancakes


If you've given up wheat flour for any reason, whether you have celiac disease, are just gluten-intolerant or -sensitive, or have adopted a Paleo or Primal diet, you know that horrible moment when you bite into a flour-free version of an old favorite and it is either a) gross or b) only okay.  Either way, all that tends to happen is that you now miss the original more than you did before you tried the substitute.  Well, I won't say this recipe is perfect, but my most-of-us-try-to-stick-to-a-Paleo-diet family really, really enjoys it, even the non-Paleo members.  If you're looking for a good pancake recipe, this one is worth a try.  Best of all, it is a simple recipe.  No weird substitutions, no hoops to jump through to get it to turn out.   It works pretty much like any other pancake recipe you've tried.  Honestly, you just get to have good pancakes that won't make your stomach hurt, your skin break out, or whatever nasty side effect you get from wheat.  Even better?  Almond flour and eggs turn this into a high protein meal...if you forego the sweetener, which we often do, you're really having good for you pancakes.  Who knew? 
Almond Flour Pancakes
(adapted from Elana’s Pantry)
 Ingredients:
Whole Batch
3 cups Honeyville blanched almond flour
½ cup water
8 eggs
½ cup ghee or coconut oil, melted**
2 tablespoons real maple syrup or agave nectar*(I often omit this)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
Ghee or butter for frying
 
Half Batch
1 ½ cups Honeyville blanched almond flour
1/3 cup water
4 eggs
1/3 cup ghee or coconut oil, melted**
1 tablespoon real maple syrup or agave nectar*(I often omit this)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
Ghee or butter for frying


Instructions:

  1. With mixer or blender or whisk, combine ingredients until smooth and creamy.
  2. Using ghee or butter, grease griddle.  (I use an electric griddle set to 350oF.)   
  3. When griddle is hot, pour pancake batter onto griddle.
  4. Pancakes will bubble.  When the bubbles stay open, flip pancakes and cook other side.  Serve warm.

Hints and Tips:
The recipe as written makes a more liquid batter and, thus, a flatter pancake.  Sometimes I like to make a more cake-like pancake, especially when I’m adding blueberries to the batter.  Just play around with the liquid to get your desired consistency.

A half batch is ideal for my still-at-home family of four.  When I’m making them to be eaten at home, I omit the maple syrup because my family will pour syrup on top no matter what.  When I’m making them for quick weekday breakfast on the go, I include the syrup.  They reheat really well, so they’re the ideal commuter breakfast (not that anyone I know eats while they’re driving!)

**The original recipe called for heavy cream, which I never have on hand.  I played around with liquid to fat ratios to get the desired texture.  When you use butter instead of ghee or coconut oil, you might run into a problem with your batter being too watery.  If that happens, just decrease your water or increase your almond flour until you get the consistency you like.

NOTE:  Elana’s Pantry recommends Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour for all of her almond flour recipes.  I haven’t tried a different almond flour with this recipe, so I don’t know how that might work.  If you try a different brand, let me know.