Saturday, July 31, 2010

So much to say

Yes, a DMB song title and my current blog title for the day.  So much for being original, but hey, I'm tired.

Things have been crazy busy.  I've been taking pictures and have thought almost everyday about what I was going to blog about and then never gotten around to it.  Like I told my friend Summer on Tuesday, I'm busy, but I'm not sure what to tell you I've done.  I know, sad, right?  Ah, well, I love my family and I love summer.

In addition, 

That's right:  I got a new bike.  AND my friend Stacey gave me a new I (heart) My Bike. bell, which is a must have for a beach cruiser.  You would also think that a beach is a must have for a beach cruiser, but sadly, I have no beach.  Justin and I did, however, go riding the other night down the Eugene trail by the river, which actually has a name, but I'm not sure what it is.  Regardless, it was as close to the beach as I was going to get, and it was beautiful!

Currently, I'm on the hunt for a really amazingly cool basket, which my friend Ashley found the exact one that I am coveting (well, in a mild, sinless way) in Seattle for a great price, but sadly didn't include the hardware.  Thus, on my part-time group exercise instructor paycheck, cannot afford.  (Except as you know from a previous post, I probably could afford it, but am choosing to spend my money on something else, right?!)

Anyway, that's it for now.  Here's what I'm still going to post, hopefully sooner than later:

-Making a Tu-tu
-Camp Betty:  progressive dinner & sewing
-The Betty Purse

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sew Liberated's Emmeline Apron

So, here is the post that I did for, which 1 major exception:  it's not completely edited!  It's basically just a product review, but I think you'll be inspired!

Isn't this the most beautiful apron you've seen?!  Don't even tell me it's not, because I know it is.  Okay, okay, maybe you would choose a different fabric?  Regardless of the chosen fabric, this apron is so nice it ought to be re-created into a sundress, don't you agree?  (Meg, if you read this for whatever reason, you should definitely do this!)

Last year, I ran across the Emmeline Apron Pattern by Sew Liberated.  It's a reversible apron with a gathered bodice and full skirt that is great for any body shape.  I often print patterns online, which can be a pain to print out and then enlarge.  Since this is a hard copy, the pattern comes with illustrated directions and full-sized pieces, which I love!  The directions are clear, so even a less-experienced seamstress will be able to make it easily.

After I bought it, I decided to make it for my sister's birthday.  I made it again for my mom at Mother's Day and they both turned out wonderfully!

One thing that is unique to the Emmeline is that you make your own bias and it turns out beautifully!

Meg, the pattern designer, also has a great blog you should check out HERE.

I particularly like her because her work space is the EXACT SAME COLOR as mine, which gives me confidence that I've picked the right color, despite what my husband thinks!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ice cream sandwiches

Forget trying to flag down the ice cream truck!  After biting into these delicious homemade ice cream sandwiches, everyone is sure to scream for more.

I had some extra chocolate chip cookies that weren't going to be eaten before they got all crumbly, so this was a perfect solution for enjoying them.

To make these:

Simply spread vanilla ice cream (or any kind you like) on a cooled chocolate chip cookie. 
Smoosh (yes, I said "smoosh") another cookie on top.  
Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze!  

Tip:  it's easier to spread ice cream that you've set on the counter for 5 minutes. 

Although you could use cookies bought in your local bakery, here's my . . .

"Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookie" recipe:

1 c. butter/margarine (or 1/2 of each?!)
1 c. Light Brown Sugar
1/2 c. Dark Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 TBSP Vanilla
2 1/2 c. Flour
1 t. Baking soda
2-3 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. toffee chips (optional)

Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs & vanilla. Beat well. Gently mix in flour & soda. Stir in chips. Chill for at least 1 hour. Bake @ 350 for 10-12 minutes. You can also make these into bar cookies--just bake for about 20 minutes.  Enjoy!!!

***Jessica's notes:
  I probably only use 1-2 cups of choc. chips & don't add the toffee chips
  The original recipe had 1 c. dark brown sugar, so if you want the extra sugar, be my guest.
  Thanks to Connie Sturm for giving me this recipe in the first place! :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Clutch Purse

I finished . . . and I love it!  I still want to find a sparkly pin for the closure, but hey, I'm ready to carry this baby.

If only it were for me . . . 

If you are signed up for the Betty Ball with University Fellowship, you could win this purse! That's right, it will be one of the many door prizes at the Betty Ball, so local Eugene gals:  register immediately for the Betty Ball!!

So in my last post, I mentioned that the instructions seemed confusing.  Here's a little hint:  skim pattern directions so you have the general idea, but don't try to read them and expect full understanding until you are in the middle of your project.  I can't tell you how many times I've gotten frustrated reading a pattern, thinking, "That makes no sense.  That must be a mistake."  Then, when I actually do the project and get to the "confusing" step, it usually makes complete sense.  

The hardest part of this pattern is lining up your fabric so the big flower on the main piece matches the big flower on the tab.  Even once you think you have it exactly right, you sew the whole thing together and the tab isn't right!  I figured (after freaking out & Justin being reasonable) that once you put a little bit in the purse, it will be perfect again.  Phew.

Alright, here's a not-so-fabulous picture the inside:

And finally, the back, which is kind of cool.  The tab acts as a handle on the back of the clutch:

If you're feeling like taking on a several hour project, it's fun & relatively easy!  Oh, I'll take another photo once I get a pretty closure--before I have to give it up.  [sigh]

What I'm Working On

I got up this morning, jogged to my quad step class, and jogged/walked home.  Since then, I've been to a garage sale, St. Vincent De Paul, and Joann's.  Quite a morning.  I got home and changed into long, comfy workout pants and a t-shirt so that I could tackle laundry and sewing!

I volunteered to donate bag/purse as a prize for a big "Camp Betty" celebration next Saturday.  I didn't really want to make something I had already done so I went online to find a free purse pattern, and fell in love with this

I cut out the pieces the other night while watching Selling New York and The Golden Girls on TV, but now I actually have to follow the diagrams to put it together.  I'll be honest, the instructions are a little confusing to me, so we'll see how this goes!  I'll update later when I'm finished!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What I'd Do With a Little Money

In case I've given the wrong impression, I don't have it all together.  I can make a few recipes, sew simply, and plants seeds in a garden, but I can't--for the life of me--keep my house clean.  I was just thinking (for the hundredth time) that I would hire a housekeeper if I had the extra cash. 

But you know what?

That's not true.

I teach group exercise classes as a little extra source of income (emphasis on little).  How do I spend that money?  Not on hiring a housekeeper.

I blog for  How do I spend that little extra cash?  Not on hiring a housekeeper.

One time I went to a group event, but was late because I had just gotten my hair colored.  One girl said, "Oh, I just can't afford to get my hair colored."  But the truth is, she chooses to spend her money on designer jeans. 

Here's what I've discovered:  many Americans have the means to attain services or products, but we all pick and choose.  Some of us choose to spend on clothes, others of us choose food.  Some vehicles, others vacations.  I've noticed over time that people are quick to judge others on how they spend their money, and make statements like, "I could never afford to . . . " when, in fact, they could.  Granted, it might mean giving up cable or a daily latte. 

So what would you do with a little money? 

Gotta go to the fabric store.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Summer Plate

If you are thinking it's way too hot outside to eat, think again!  

For this delicious light meal, fill up your plate with these things and it is sure to please your palate!

:Caprese salad:
tomato slices, topped with a slice of fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and balsamic vinaigrette. 
notes:  i like newman's own light balsamic vinaigrette.  
buy a large basil plant at trader joes' for $2.99

pair your hummus with soft pita or herb garlic pita chips. don't forget your kalamata olives.  delicio.
notes:  trader joes pita chips = yum.  also, costco has a killer deal on a ginormous jar of kalamatas.

:Moroccan Orzo with Toasted Almonds:
thanks to my friend stacey who made this & opened my eyes to the great world of orzo.  a-ma-zing.
notes:  recipe below

Recipe for Moroccan Orzo with Toasted Almonds (Thanks to Stacey--credit to Kendra M.)

16 oz. orzo, cooked, cooled, and drained
Combine With:
1 C. green olives, sliced, or halved (not pimento stuffed)
1/3 C. toasted almonds
1 C. raisins or currants  (i liked the currants)
1 C. golden raisins (or sub with dried apricots)
1/2 C. parsley, minced
Lemon Garlic Dressing (recipe below)
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. allspice
Salt & Pepper to taste

Lemon Garlic Dressing
Whisk together:
1/4 C. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

Whisk in:
1 C. olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
1/2 Tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dill

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Delicious Mango Guacamole

I love a great recipe.  This one is a perfect summer snack & you must make it RIGHT NOW because it is so good.  Because the ingredients vary in spiciness or juiciness, expect to make changes as your taste buds lead you!

3-4 Small-Med. Avacados, peeled
2 Mangos, peeled & diced
Handful of Cilantro, washed & chopped
3 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped--adjust to taste
1 jalepeno, seeded and finely chopped
1/4-1/2 Lime for juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
Chili Powder--just a pinch!

Mix avacado, mangos, cilantro, garlic, 1/2 jalenpeno, 1/4 lime juice, and salt & pepper in food processor.  Mix for a few seconds.  Taste test it.  If you want, add other 1/2 jalepeno, clove of garlic, or lime as you like.  Add salt, pepper, and chili powder to your liking.

Get the best corn chips you can find (I like Juanita's) and enjoy with a glass of sweet tea or a bottle of corona! 

Summertime perfection.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Take Action: Genocide Arrest Warrant for Bashir | Save Darfur

Hey Everyone,

This is something that we ought to be aware of and doing whatever we can to end the genocide in Darfur. I hope that you will join me!

Take Action: Genocide Arrest Warrant for Bashir | Save Darfur

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Swing Set Fun!

Bee has been wanting a "playground" in her backyard.  J & I have been checking Craigslist for a while, trying to find the right play structure for the right price.  Finally, we found "the one!" 

It's something we all love--mommy & daddy got to play 1st!  

Bug could swing ALL DAY on this, which is awesome!  

Bee loves having friends over to play!  (Bee left, Bee's friend right!  So cute!!)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Replacing "But" with "Because"

Have you ever said to your kids,

"I love you but . . . "

 . . . you need to obey me.
 . . . don't do that again!
 . . . you need to eat your dinner.
 . . . you have to listen to me.
 . . . you can't go in the front yard by yourself.

I cringe when I hear those words come out of my mouth.  Unconditional love leaves no room for "but."  My love does not hinge on what my kids do or do not do; however, my "but" implies that maybe it does. Anytime someone gives a compliment, then follows it with "but," I suck air in, preparing for what might outweigh the kind words.  If I say, "I love you, but . . . " do my kids interpret a condition that might outweigh my love for them?  As I thought about this, I wondered how I could convey my message more clearly.  If I could replace my "but" with a "because," then I wouldn't be implying that there was some way that my daughters could  somehow do something that would keep me from loving them.

"Because I love you . . . "

 . . . you need to obey me.
 . . . don't do that again!
 . . . you need to eat your dinner. 
 . . . you have to listen to me.
 . . . you can't go in the front yard by yourself. 

After all, my girls never have to do anything that would make them deserve my love.  I just love them because they are my daughters.  End of story.  Am I sad or even angry sometimes when they disobey?  You know it!  But they will always have my love and the things that I ask them to do are not conditions on my love.  Many times, they are things that will keep them safe and healthy.  Other times, they are asked to do what is necessary to live in our world, culture, community, and home. 

If this is true of me and how I feel about my daughters, how much truer is it of God's love toward us?  He does not love me more or less because of what I do, nor is His love in any way conditional.  I am His daughter and He loves me.  He's my dad.  Do I make him sad or maybe angry sometimes?  Who knows, but I'm thinking I do.  Regardless, I know His love for me far passes even my love for my daughters.  After all, He was not only willing, but actually gave His life for me.  I have not done that; I remain a selfish person.  If I, human and selfish, can love my daughters without any "buts," how much more can God, completely all-powerful yet humble love me without any "buts."

Because He loves me, I will obey Him.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Making of Apple Pie

I walked into my parents house yesterday and saw this wonderful site when I walked in the house:

That's right:  the ingredients for an All-American Apple Pie.  And my mom's is the best (rivaled only by Chris Steele's) 

She really, really didn't want me to take these pics because it didn't look perfect.  But as we all know, I'm not a perfectionist so I don't care so much how it looks as how it tastes.  Finally, I'll give you my mom's *not so secret* pie crust recipe, which is pretty much amazing.

Mom's Pie Crust:

1 1/3 C. Flour
1/2 C. Crisco
1/2 t. Salt
3 TBSP Iced water

Measure ingredients EXACTLY.  Make sure to use iced water!!  Combine flour and salt, then use fork or pastry knife to cut the the Crisco into the mixture.  Stir iced water in.  Roll out on small amount of flour.  Use the least amount of flour possible when rolling it out!  Yields 1 crust. post #5

If you want to make black-out curtains, check out my blog contribution here.

Will post new 4th of July pics later! 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Silhouette Giveaway!

I'm not sure what blogs you follow, but Just a Girl is creative & fun.  Right now (and this is the LAST DAY) she is giving away an amazing prize, The Silhouette. 

Whether you do paper craft, home decor or whatever, I have a feeling this machine is going to be a "to die for" item!  Personally, I would definitely use it to embellish clothing I make. 

Check it out here & enter to win!!!

Fruit of my labor

Guess what?!?!?!  My garden is producing good lettuce!

Justin re-purposed a picnic table (on the sides) & made me a raised garden bed:

I planted lettuce, carrots, corn, strawberries and tomatoes, although I learned the hard way that you have to use Sluggo.  Snails ate most of my lettuce.  I have 4 heads going strong.  Tomatoes are dying for some more sun, but currently they are HUGE (pic later).  Riley has killed at least one stalk of corn, but I think we'll have some carrots eventually!  The strawberries are also ripening--However, I'm sure Brooklyn will eat them before I get a chance to pick any.

Anyway, last night we enjoyed our home-grown lettuce.  It was satisfying knowing where it came from! (Raspberries came from Justin's parents, and zucchini & beans are courtesy of Trader Joe's.  ;)