Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On My Bookshelf: Farm Chicks in the Kitchen

I have visited The Farm Chicks' blog more than once, and was excited when my copy of their cookbook, The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen came in at the library. I haven't had a chance to make anything from the book, but there are a few recipes that I definitely want to try, including some yummy looking cinnamon rolls. I loved their homemade chocolate cupcake recipe, so I'm sure these recipes will be great as well. The book is really lovely, and lots of fun to browse, too.

Have you tried any recipes from this book? Which ones should I try?

And It Begins...

I've been a bit absent from blogging lately, mostly because our little construction project started this week! This picture is just an example of what the back of my house looks like right now! (Oh and our house is not sided pink, that is what is under our current siding. The house was pink before we owned it.) I am ready for the part where I say how nice the paint looks with the curtains, but I know that will come in due time.

For now, my little one is enjoying watching the "mens" working outside. She stands at the back window in her room and stares at them. She gets so excited when one of them waves at her.

I have been doing some crafting and cooking and reading, so more posts will be coming! :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Recipe: Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookies

This cooler weather has made me want to start cooking and baking more. This weekend, we decided to let our daughter help make cookies. I set out to find an eggless cookie recipe, so we wouldn't have to worry about raw eggs in the cookie dough getting on her hands while she mixed.

I found this simple chocolate chip cookie recipe that turned out to be really yummy! My daughter had a blast helping to mix and put the cookies on the cookie sheet. The bonus for mom and dad was being able to sneak a couple of bites of cookie dough. The dough tastes a little more like a sugar cookie dough than traditional chocolate chip cookie dough, but still good.

Do you have any favorite eggless baked good recipes? I'd love to take a look at some new ones!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Christmas Gift Idea: Market Bag

I've had this market bag tutorial from Film in the Fridge bookmarked for some time. I liked the look of the finished bag and the tutorial looked fairly simple, so I decided to give it a try. I had some of this Robert Kaufman pears fabric from the Fruit Basket line which I thought would look great as a bag. I decided to make a music bag to use for church.

I cut the pieces a week ago, and sewed the bag in about 3 hours over 2 evenings. I think subsequent bags will be easier, because there will be less to figure out after making this first one. I tweaked a few things including the straps and how I put the lining and outer bag together, but I really like this bag.

I think I will make up a few for Christmas presents using some fabric that I have coming from Joann Fabric and Hancock Fabric. I was anxious to get this one finished, so I didn't include a pocket (or two), but probably would add pockets on future bags. This bag is all packed up and ready for church tomorrow!

Do you have a favorite pattern or tutorial for a purse or bag? Leave me a link in the comments!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Knit Scarf

Last weekend, I picked up some knit fabric at Joann Fabric, hoping to make a simple scarf. I love wearing scarves, and they are a perfect layer for this time of year.
First, I tried this T-Shirt Scarf from Cut Out and Keep. It took quite a while to cut out all of the squares and the fabric kept twisting around. I like the finished scarf, but I think it would have turned out better with material that had color on both sides and with slightly larger squares. The scarf I made is super long and I didn't even use 50 squares. This probably took me about an hour and a half to make.

The second scarf was just made by cutting the knit fabric. No hemming or finishing, that's it. It took about 5 minutes. I like them both, but I'm just curious: which one do you like better?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Storytime Fun: On the Farm

A is 22 months old.

Last week, we didn't do too much for Tot School. I had a few apple books, but didn't do any of the activities I had planned. I will probably re-visit apples again this fall.

This week, I gathered some farm books that we had at home including Big Red Barn, Barnyard Banter, and Mr. Brown Can Moo. We enjoyed reading these books a lot. My daughter also loved her Baby Einstein Baby MacDonald DVD this week. She is getting better at putting together her Melissa and Doug farm puzzle, too.

I was also surprised that she really enjoyed these Farmer in the Dell stacking cards I got for her a few months ago. She likes to look at the cards and tell the story herself and requested that we sing the song often this week. We also listened to the CD On the Farm With Ronno quite a bit this week.

Yesterday, we went to a pioneer days festival and she got a chance to see some cows and several roosters. Plus, she loved the ladies who did clog dancing.

This week, storytime at the library starts again, so I should have a booklist next week for our "Harvest on the Farm Theme". For more Tot School, check out 1+1+1=1!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Change is in the air...

This is not one of my typical posts, but since this is on my mind right now, I thought I'd write about it! Fall always has been a season of transition for me. When I was a teacher, this was the time of year that I would be returning to school and getting used to a new schedule and set of students. While I'm no longer teaching, I still feel this transition every fall.

On the home front, we've been spending a lot of time thinking about whether to buy a new house or add on to our 1000 sq. ft. home. After much deliberation, (I'm talking months...I don't make decisions lightly!) we have decided to stay where we are and have hired a contractor to add on a second full bathroom, making our room a master "suite" ... as much as a 12x12 room can be a suite! We are looking forward to the second bathroom and walk-in closet, and are trying to make decisions about all of the items needed for the bathroom. I want to find quality items that are priced reasonably, so we are becoming regular visitors to the home improvement stores in the area. Any tips or tricks for staying within a budget on this project? I'd love your input!

This week, I was also asked to become our church's choir director as part of a job share position. This happened really quickly, so the latter part of the week was spent selecting music, hashing out responsibilities, and sprucing up the choir area at church. I will try to get a picture of the bulletin board and framed verses I put together...the power of a bit of fabric, a hot glue gun, and some ribbon! This position is a big leap of faith for me. I don't have any formal training as a director, though I do have a lot of music background.

My husband also job shares the church organist position, so we are trying to figure out the logistics of who will take care of our little one during service. We do have a nursery, but there are so few little kids at church, it is not regularly staffed. In this area, I am feeling called to try to begin a preschool "class" down in the nursery. Once a month (to start), I would organize activities around a Bible story. Do you have any free curriculum to recommend? This would only be for 2 children to start, with the possibility of others being added in the future. Do any of you go to really small churches with only a few children? Do you offer classes for those that are there?

So...change is in the air! What changes are going on in your life? Drop me a line - I'd love to pray for you during these changes and would appreciate the same for me!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Owl Skirt and Purse

I bought some adorable owl fabric a couple of weeks ago at JoAnn Fabric. I am loving owls right now - I think we are going to have an owl birthday party for a 2-year -old in a couple of months. After making a little skirt for my daughter, I had quite a bit of fabric left over and decided to try making a purse for me. I used this tutorial at Little Birdie Secrets for the basic idea, but I figured out a way to line the bag and made fabric straps instead of using bamboo handles. The bag isn't perfect, but I had a lot of fun putting it together and have already gotten some nice compliments on it. Plus, the fabric makes me smile when I look at it!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Housewarming Gift

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law moved into their first home a couple of weeks ago. When I bought this black floater frame from Kohl's on clearance ($3.99!), I thought it would work well for my sister-in-law's decorating style. I was going to print their last initial on scrapbook paper and frame it, but my husband suggested doing a monogram instead, using their first initials and last initial.

I went online to and found a neat (free!) font in their intitials category. I played around with the size of the letters and ended up making the side initials 200 pt type and the center initial 300 pt type. I used daisy scrapbook paper (Daisies are my sister-in-law's favorite flowers.) and printed the letters using my home printer. I used my little paper cutter to trim the paper, cleaned the glass on the frame, and mounted the paper between the two pieces of glass.

Here is the finished product! I realized their initials are the same as ours...and I like it so much I want to keep it - but I won't! This was a fun, simple craft that I think will make a nice housewarming gift. It would also make a nice Christmas present.
Do you have a favorite housewarming present you have given or received?
Check out DIY Day for more!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Weekend Sewing Sew-Along

One of my IRL crafty buddies is hosting this cool sew-along on her blog. Since I've been doing some more sewing lately, I decided to join in. During the months of September and October we'll be sewing and sharing projects from the book Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. I still haven't gotten my copy of the book yet, but two of the other ladies participating have already finished their first projects! Stop by Maggie's blog and leave her a comment if you'd like to join in!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Christmas Gift Idea: Coffee Cozies

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, I try to stay ahead of gifts by purchasing items on sale. This year, I am trying to make some gifts, too. My mom participates in a craft show in late November and I am making some different things to sell, also.

Coffee cozies have proven to be a simple, fun project. Once I have one cut and pinned, I can sew it up in about a half hour. These would be great gifts for teachers, co-workers, and friends. They are great for using up some small pieces of fabric, also.

For these cozies, I looked at some examples and tutorials, then drafted a pattern using a cardboard coffee cozy. These cozies have a layer of Insul-Bright in the middle and fasten with Velcro, making them adjustable. I've also been using one of these cozies on my Klean Kanteen.

Are you making anything for gifts right now?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Time With a Hammer

Yes, it's true. I've never really done any home improvement work with a hammer. I've always waited around for my hubby to do it for me. He's great about it, but I decided that I'm 30 (!) and need to learn how to do this myself.

Last week, I decided I would try hanging some Shabby Chic "Dream" letters in our daughter's room. I purchased these letters several months ago at Target for 75% off - $7.50! I was excited to try this project, but I definitely needed help.

My mom assisted for the first three letters - teaching me how to remove a nail hammered incorrectly, keeping a 21 month old away from the hammer, etc. The "M" was by far the hardest letter. There are lots of wrong holes behind that one! I did the "D" and "R" last and those were much easier.

I'm excited that I tried something new and discovered that it's OK not to get it right the first time. I think that was one of my fears that I would "mess it up" too badly. My husband was really sweet, sharing with me all of the mistakes he's made hanging various things on the walls at our home.

I love the way these look in her room! What project are you taking on at your home?
For more DIY projects, check out A Soft Place to Land!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sale Shopping and Buying Ahead

I know many of us who are frugal shop sales year round for gifts to be used throughout the year. I have used this strategy with a great deal of success over the last few years. We have a large gift box in our closet where I put items to be used for various gift-giving occasions.

Typically, I shop about 2-3 months ahead. We have a spreadsheet containing all of the known family birthdays, anniversaries, etc. written out for each month. When I shop sales, I have these events in mind. However, we all know that surprise retirements, babies, marriages, and more may be gift-giving occasions we don't even know about. That's why if I see something nice at a really great sale price, I usually pick up one or two, put it in our gift box, and hold on to it until a time arises to give the gift.

Christmas is quickly approaching also, and I have started to get some items that will be gifts at Christmastime. I also am hoping to do some handmade gifts this year, and have started crafting as well. Another way that sales can be great near the holidays is for various charitable giving. We stocked up on school supplies for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and bought clothes at Old Navy's extra 50% clearance sales to use for our local Salvation Army's Angel Tree.

A few tips that work for me when I buy gifts ahead:
  • Remember to check your gift box before shopping to see if you have something appropriate before buying anything new.
  • Regularly get out the items in your gift box and inventory them. I usually mentally assign items to various occasions.
  • Try not to buy too many things ahead!

One of my favorite sources (in addition to the blogs on my list) for great shopping deals is the Pinching Your Pennies Screaming Deals Online Forum. I just got some amazing clothing and gift deals from Kohl's at 85-90% off from a thread in this forum.

Do you buy or make gifts ahead? What are some of your shopping and saving strategies?


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