Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter eggs

This week we painted our Easter eggs.  I was trying to figure out the best way to keep little fingers from getting too messy, and these bamboo skewers proved to be the perfect solution.

Hope you all had a nice Easter weekend!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cinnamon Apple Cake

For Will's birthday I made a Cinnamon Apple Cake.  I'm not a huge lover of cakes, but with whole wheat flour and 4 entire apples in this cake, I can't turn it down.  And it is oh so yummy!  I thought I would share the recipe.

This is a cake that the kids love to help with.  My sister got us this apple peeler a few years ago, and it has become one of my favorite kitchen tools.

After I put the apples on, the kids can grind it through themselves.  

And it makes eating the apples so fun!  You end up with a very long string of apple peel, and a slinky of perfectly sliced apples.  Then all I have to do is dice the slices up.

Cinnamon Apple Cake

2 cups white sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup oil
1/4 cup orange juice
4 cups apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped (about 4 apples)

Cream cheese frosting (whip together):
1/4 cup butter at room temperature
5 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour a 13x9 dish.  Combine dry ingredients and set aside.  Whip eggs until frothy, about 3 to 4 minutes then add oil and orange juice and mix thoroughly.  Add dry ingredients and beat with whip at low speed until thoroughly combined.  Fold in apples and pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 1 hour, covering with aluminum foil the last 20 minutes so the top doesn't get too brown.  Cool completely, then frost.

And here's Will going at it.  He used his thumb and index finger to pinch off tiny pieces, taking about 30 minutes or so to finally eat the whole thing.  But he loved every bite!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter baskets and egg hunts

A couple weeks ago, a friend referred me to this fabric Easter Basket Tutorial by Sew Lux Fabric.  I thought it would be fun to have baskets the kids could use year after year, so I got to work.  Here's my version of them.  They don't look anything like the ones in the tutorial.  I didn't have lining, batting, or interfacing, but I did have vinyl and bias tape.  So I went with what I had.  (Try not to look too closely at/judge my sewing... sometimes you have to go for quantity over quality.)

I used white t-shirt transfer paper to put the names on the fabric.

Saturday it's supposed to be 52 and partly sunny.  52 degrees!!  The kids haven't been wearing jackets when it hits 40, so 52 might call for shorts.  Definitely outdoor Easter egg hunt weather.  And this year we're going to try something a little bit different.  Each of the kids will be assigned one color of egg that he can find.  That way we can hide each color in age-appropriate locations, and when they're done finding their own eggs they can help each other.  Hopefully doing it this way will still be fun but a little less competitive.  We'll see.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Birthday crown

Friday was Will's birthday.  1 year old!  I can hardly believe it.  We didn't do anything too grand or glorious apart from the traditional present opening and cake gorging.  But we did make him a crown.  I really like the idea of helping the kids make gifts for each other.  It helps them think about the person, and is fun to watch how excited they get when they give the homemade gift.

For this crown, I sewed white fabric onto some vinyl and sewed velcro at either end.  Then I had the kids use fabric paint to decorate it.  I decided to go with something a little longer lasting than just paper.

And here's the birthday boy in all his glory!  It looks like he's super excited to be wearing his crown, right?

Well, truth be told, I think it stayed on his head for a total of 3 seconds before he found it, pulled it off and dropped it on the floor.


We did this about 20 times so I could attempt to get a picture of the beautiful crown, with pink hearts and all.  I guess if nothing else this crown gave us a good game to play.  He certainly liked it (the game).  The velcro makes the crown adjustable, so maybe we'll save it for next year.  I'm just sure he's going to love it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Essential Swimwear giveaway!

Today I'm excited to bring you a giveaway from Essential Swimwear!  If you haven't found that perfect new suit for Spring break, here's your chance.

Essential Swimwear is generously giving away a $50 gift certificate to put towards a suit of your choice!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post (one entry per person, please).

You can visit Essential Swimwear online or follow them on Facebook for the latest deals and promotions.

My talented sister Brittney started this company in 2008.  After being frustrated with expensive prices, wrong fits and the hassle of searching online for hours, she decided to experiment with making her own swimsuits.  After a lot of trial and error, she was finally able to sew swimsuits that were comfortable, stylish and flattering and began making them for friends and family.  Word spread quickly, and she began selling hand-made women's swimsuits to more and more people.  After two years of personally fitting hundreds of women, she took the knowledge she gained and began designing swimsuits that could be manufactured to keep up with the demand and increase quality.

Here's a little bit more about Essential Swimwear, in their own words:

At Essential Swimwear, our goal is to create beautiful, elegant and affordable swimwear for women of all shapes and sizes.  We believe it's more classy and appealing to be modestly covered than unnecessarily provocative.  Women should feel empowered and confident in their swimwear, whether they're laying out by the pool, chasing kids around the splash park, surfing at the ocean or swimming at the local rec center.

Our vintage-inspired shapes paired with modern prints and solids create one-of-a-kind looks that work for every body type.  With an emphasis on excellent quality of materials and construction, we are confident your Essential Swimwear suit will be one you'll have in your wardrobe for years.

This giveaway ends Sunday at midnight.  Winner will be announced Monday morning.  Good luck!

The winner of this giveaway is Jill Lau!  She said, "Your sister does an amazing job!"
Enjoy your new suit!

Lego Minifigure display case

For our Christmas homemade gift exchange (yes, I'm still showing projects from Christmas), Joe drew Dan's name.  My friend Alison bought one of these drawers for her boys to house their Minifigures in, and I thought that would make the perfect gift for my Lego lover (all the kids like Legos, but Daniel loves them... really, he can play with them for hours).  We found this old printers drawer from an antique shop.  My favorite part is the old handle.

I guess this gift was semi homemade.  Joe helped me glue in old Lego pieces so the figures could stand up.  Then he helped put figures together to display.

The drawer can hold 89 figures!  And I'm almost embarrassed to admit, we are close to filling it up.

I had to snap a picture while all of the figures were in there, because it never lasts very long.  Before I know it they'll be picked off one by one to fight in the next battle.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Duct tape wallet

John's class recently took a field trip to the library and he received his very own library card.  He was pretty excited about this, to say the least.  John was wondering where he should keep his card, so we brainstormed a bit and decided to try making a duct tape wallet.  We already had colored duct tape, so it was free (an extra bonus!), and I found an easy to follow tutorial on YouTube.

I love it when I can find projects to work on with the older boys.  It takes a little more creativity and thought to find things they're really interested in doing, but when we do, it's time well spent together.  I had to do most of the cutting, measuring and folding, but John enjoyed being in charge of playing and pausing the video as we worked. 

 Now John can keep dollar bills in his wallet, and coins in his money jar.

We found an old wallet sized picture he could put in the wallet (although he requested I get an updated one with Will in it).

And a nice little pocket for that library card.

Monday, March 18, 2013

From wheat to grass

The first day of Spring is quickly approaching.  Normally I would be more excited, but winter here seems to be dragging on and on.  No real "spring" is on the horizon.  Temperatures here are in the 30's and below all week, but we're surviving.  We're planning on more sewing, crafts, and lazy afternoons!

At the beginning of March we started our wheat grass in hopes that it would be ready to go for Easter.  9 days later, the blades were more than a couple inches long!  

We used Delia's method for soil-less wheat grass.  It was a bit high maintenance the first few days, having to rinse the wheat a few times a day.  But fun to watch.  This is the wheat on day 5, just after it came out of the jars.

And by day 8, here's what we had!  Beautiful long blades of green grass.

The roots of the grass had grown right into the paper towels, so all I had to do was cut the rugs of grass into circles and place them in our pots.  I found these pots at Ikea for $1 each, then filled them each half way with rocks.

You can still see the wheat berries down by the roots.

I thought the grass would look good under our Easter egg garland.  We come up with a new method to decorate eggs every year then string them all together for display.  I'm still trying to decide what to do this year...

So now I have something beautiful and green to look at when I look out the window!  Although we won't see the real stuff for some time now.  Until then, this will have to do.

And I just found out that my pictures that I linked from Flickr are not working with Pinterest.  Grrrr.  So I'm going to try to load them right onto blogger and hope that that works.  Sorry for the inconvenience!

**Update: Unfortunately, about a week after we had this beautiful green grass, it all died from mold.  And I'm not quite sure how we could have avoided it.  So no green grass for Easter.  Although the process of growing the grass from wheat was fun to watch, next year we might just go with plain old grass seeds planted in soil.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Painted money jars

The kids needed a place to keep their money, and I had been wanting to paint jars.  So we combined the two and came up with these money jars.


I had John, Dan and Joe each pick out 2-4 colors they wanted to use.  They poured about a tablespoon of each color into the bottom of the jar, then rolled the jar around until it was sufficiently covered with paint (we used acrylics).


I wanted to make sure the paint was completely dry before they used them, so we let them sit for about a week.  For the top, I cut a circle out of some clear plastic, then cut a rectangle to put the coins through.


I was nervous that the coins would chip the paint, but surprisingly, they haven't chipped a bit.  I hope our jam jars are happy with their new life!  The kids sure love using them.  And I do think they look nice sitting up there on the dresser :)


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Surviving the transition from winter to spring

We've entered the time of year when everyone is getting tired of the dirty snow, the rain, the gray skies, the mud and the cold weather.  Even John has admitted he's tired of the snow... and that's saying something!  But with this slow transition from winter to spring has come some downtime that has been quite enjoyable.  I haven't filled up our days with too many activities away from home.  Instead, we've settled into a slower routine, read a lot of books, played a lot of dragons, checkers and hide-and-seek, and worked on a few projects.


We all seem to migrate to the couch by the window when the sun is out.


I don't think the kids are used to seeing me lay down so much.  But I could get used to this.


Even Will will lay still for a few... seconds.


Many forts have been built in our front room.


And many games of checkers have been played.


And of course I can't lie around all day long... this is the time of year when I do the most sewing.  I have about 10 projects floating around in my head, it's just a matter of deciding which ones I should actually do, what I actually have time for.  Currently a jean picnic blanket is in the works (don't look too close, I'm a beginner quilter).


Our wheat grass continues to grow.  Yes wheat!  It's actually growing!  Who would have thought.  A couple days more and we'll transplant them into something better looking.


Our garden plans have begun.  We made garden markers last year for Pete's mom but never got around to making our own.  We'll use a wood burner to trace the letters, then nail the signs to stakes.  Even though planting most of the garden won't happen for a couple of months, just the thought of it is exciting.



What do you do to survive this time of year?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fabric napkins

I made some fabric Christmas napkins last year for our family to use during the holidays and decided it might be nice to have some plain ones for every day use.  I basically sewed two rectangles together, turned them right side out, then sewed around the edge.


I love using them most for muffins, bread and cookies.  Sometimes you can get away with just shaking them off and reusing them.  Other times I throw them in the laundry basket.

IMG_0284 IMG_0287

Will didn't use a napkin, but this was his first time eating a cookie.  We make a lot of cookies around here, so it will not be the last.  And my baby turns one in 2 weeks!  I can hardly believe it!

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