January 30, 2013

Half and Half: Cookie Dough Cupcake

Yesterday, my bestie, Corey and I came up with a brilliant idea! We like to get together to talk about the two cutest kids in town and share our lives and struggles with each other. You know. The stuff friends talk about.
As much fun as sitting around and talking is, we're also doers. So what was our totally fabulous idea? Half and half! Here's how it works...
I found a delicious-looking recipe for a cookie dough cupcake and suggested that Corey and I give it a try. We changed up the recipe a bit because I didn't want to buy some of the stuff that's required for the real, real recipe, and you know what? It still turned out great! I took care of the cookie dough and frosting, and Corey did the cupcake batter. Half and half!
Our next activity? Improve our cupcake decorating skills.






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January 28, 2013

Butterbeer

I found just about the most delicious hot drink... EVER. And the fact that it's Harry Potter related? Even better.
I'll admit, I didn't come up with this on my own. I found it on Pinterest and decided to give it a shot.

You will need:
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 mug milk (which is about 1 cup)
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
Dash of cinnamon
Cauldron

Step 1: Melt your butter and brown sugar together to make a caramel.

Step 2: Mix in milk, vanilla, and dash of cinnamon.

Step 3: Keep stirring until potion comes to a boil.

Step 4: Pour into mug and enjoy!


Simple as that, and it is sooooo good! Harry Potter party? I think yes!

Just pondering life's great mysteries... What animal would my patronus be?


P.S. Brani over at That's Just Lovely (check sponsors on sidebar) mentioned me in her most recent blog/vlog post. She is a sweetheart! You should check her out!
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January 25, 2013

VERY easy children's skirt

For Christmas I just HAD to have matching outfits (link) for me and Chelsea so I came up with my own design for skirts and learned that making skirts can be the easiest and funnest thing to do for you and your little girl! The adult skirt might take a little longer because it's bigger, so if you're more interested in just making your little girl look cute, here's how...

Daughter Skirt
The directions for the daughter skirt are exactly the same as the adult skirt, but different dimensions.


You will need:
Skirt - 13" of skirt fabric
Ribbon - 3x45" of ribbon fabric (45" should be the width of the fabric at the store anyway).
Stitch Picker (or whatever you call that thing)
Thread, etc.
Step 1: Place the fabric, right side up, fold the top of drapery fabric under 2 inches, and fold another half inch under, like a hem. Pin in place.
Step 2: Find the center of your fabric, measure 1/2" on either side of the center and draw a perpendicular line 3/4" long.

Step 3: Unpin. Set sewing machine stitch to a close zig-zag to make 1/2" (or so) button hole. Zig-zag on one side of the mark, keep your needle in the fabric, twist the fabric around so you can make a parallel zig-zag stitch to the first line, and make sure that your two stitches do not touch, but are as close to one another as possible. PRACTICE ON A SEPARATE PIECE OF FABRIC FIRST! 

Step 4: Use seam scissors (stitch picker, or whatever those things are called) to cut the fabric that's in-between the two zig-zag stitch lines. Repeat on second "button hole."

Step 5: Repin "top hem" (just like in step 1) and stitch it down. Straight stitch along the top edge of the skirt as well (the side that's folded over). The seam should be even less than a quarter inch away from the edge.

Step 6: Take your ribbon fabric and cut it to be 3x45" (45" is about the length of the fabric as is). Then cut that piece in half. So now you have two pieces that are 3x22" (approx). Fold in half with right sides together (hamburger style so you don't lose any length) and pin in place.

Step 7: Make a mark about two inches away from the end on one side of the ribbon.

Step 8: Sew using a straight stitch along the long side of the ribbon, and diagonally from the two inches mark to the folded-side corner. DO NOT close the end that is not sewn diagonally. Clip the corners and excess fabric where the diagonal is. Repeat steps 6-8 on the other ribbon.

Step 9: Turn the ribbons right-side-out using scissors gently to poke the diagonal corner out. Zig-zag stitch the open end closed, then finish off the ribbon by straight stitching around the whole thing.

Step 10: Use safety pin to move ribbon through the button holes so that the zig-zagged straight edge of the ribbon is lined up with what will be the back of your skirt. Pin it in place. Do the same with the other ribbon on the other side.
Step 11: Pin the right sides of the back of the skirt together and sew with a seam allowance of 1 inch all the way down the skirt. If it frays, fold excess of 1" fabric from seam, fold under, and stitch down (like a hem).

Step 12: Hem the bottom of the skirt, only using up 1/2" of fabric (I had excess so my hem is bigger than yours will be).

The last step is to put this cute little creation of yours on the best little creation of yours!




Like the Bow Scarf? There's a tutorial for that!



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January 23, 2013

Pretty bows

Already this has been a productive week! I've been working out, having dinner ready for my man, playing with my babe, cleaning my house, and finishing projects! My secret? To do lists a.k.a. having a plan.
If you saw my post on Friday, then you saw that I've made myself a goal to run a half-marathon and even made myself a lovely graph/calendar of completion! Granted, I didn't actually write the schedule up myself, but I made it look pretty and easier to read.
But, I digress. In any case, that lovely little graph has been instrumental in my productiveness. On Sunday, I looked at the graph and planned out what I needed to do this week to have time for my workout, and that's when the meal plan came. I also knew that I wanted to get some projects done this week and that's when my weekly to do list was born.
And so we come to the real reason why I wanted to post today. I finished a pretty big project that I am SO happy with and definitely will be repeating!
It was so easy! My mother-in-law found it and suggested that I give it a try so I got the yarn and, since I already know how to do a basic garter knit, it was a sinch to make it adult-sized!

You will need:
Two colors of yarn, one for scarf and one for bow (I used regular yarn for both)
Size 10 knitting needles

Scarf:
26 stitches
3 feet long
4.5 inches before you're finished, regular stitch 11 stitches, and cast off for four more stitches. Cast back on for the remaining 11. There's a fantastic video to show you how to do this and a few other great tricks.

Bow:
16 stitches
6.5 inches long
To make it a bow, simply wrap the yarn around the center until it's the thickness you want. Then sew the bow in the center 4.5 inches away from the end (not the same end where the button hole is).

I think next time I want to use chunky yarn for the scarf but other than that, I have no regrets about making this super cute Bow Scarf! I hope you will, too!




Cute, right? But I wasn't done with bows quite yet. I'm telling you, with all this extra time due to pre-week planning, I could SAVE THE WORLD! Or at least make something else!


I am in LOVE with this new skirt, but I'll save the tutorial for my next blog post. Until then!

It's the only way I could get her to sit still for a couple of seconds!

Obviously she was happy about it!

Gotta love the bows!


It's... a little big on her...






P.S. Here's the site I used to figure out my adult-sized Bow Scarf. Ta ta!
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January 21, 2013

Trains

I love riding on the train. There's something so calming about it. The feel of land passing beneath you at such a fast pace that you almost feel like you're getting lost somewhere with the land. It's different than driving. You don't have to worry about changing lanes, drowsy drivers, or that grouchy guy who gives you the finger. It can be a time for reflection. As the train speeds ahead, leaving your past behind, you can almost see your future unraveling before you.
When I think of my past, I see times of uncertainty and doubt, accompanied by choices poorly made, or avoided all together, with tears adding to the discordant sound. I also see a staircase with a railing that's fun to slide down, a wall hanging that says "This house is full of kids and love," and the evidence that it is true playing games in one room and making cookies in the kitchen.
The present seems to be moving quickly by, just as the train moves, leaving little time to consider some of the unknown places I'm passing. But the excitement and the rush of the train propels me forward and the forever enticing destination keeps my mind busy with what I will see when I get there.
The future, although uncertain, carries with it a feeling of wonder. I think of what lies ahead and all of the beautiful things that will be there. I am also cautious. I try to be realistic as I consider the possibilities. House, more children, better income... It looks warm, inviting, and bright, but there's a part that is not entirely light. I can see that although my destination takes me to the warm glow that is my future, it is also taking me to the dark. I realize that I must take the dark with the light. I can not take the glow alone. The dark must come with it. The words from a familiar song come to mind. "I know that the night must end, and that the sun will rise," and I am reminded that even the darkest of nights can not last forever, and that when the morning comes, the sun appears even brighter than the day before.
I lean back into my chair as these thoughts of trains and time speed through my mind and I feel at peace. Relaxed... And then the doors open, and the spectators of the latest Jazz game, board. The sleeping child that was lying peacefully in front of me erupts into tears. I calmly lift her into my arms and think to myself, "The past is history, the future a mystery, but right now is a gift, and that's why it's called the present." I hold my crying child a little closer, close my eyes, and smile as the train continues onward.
_____________________________________________________________________________

My very dear friend Emily just got a home of her very own which is why my mind is turned toward the future! Of course, I know that you can't concentrate just on the destination and what life will be, or you'll get lost in it and miss out on the moment, but I think that the anticipation is part of the fun, like Christmas!
Anyway, Andrew and I helped Emily and her husband (plus little baby boy in the oven!) move into their new home and it is so beautiful and nice and it's theirs! I wouldn't say that I'm jealous really. It's true that I so desperately wish we had our own four bedroom home right now, with a basement, garage, and beautiful backyard, but the feeling that is most present in me is excitement.
Since then, Andrew and I have been talking a lot about what kind of home we want and what kind of home we will be able to afford in a few months. We've talked about town homes, condos, and fixer-uppers being in our list of affordables. I don't want the world with this first home, but my heart longs for a real home. Something that I can call my own, that we'll be able to grow in to, and stay for 10 or 15 years. I've been trying to think of anything I can do to help our family get a little extra income so that we can get that kind of home. I'm considering substitute teaching, but am totally torn. We have family nearby that could babysit Chelsea for me, but even still, I want to be with my little girl. I've also considered voice lessons and continuing the Etsy business, but to be honest, right now, the Etsy business is kind of dead. Maybe I need to be more tenacious (a.k.a. annoying to all of my friends).
Such are the thoughts of a longing heart. *sigh* But I hate to end on a slightly depressing note!
Today has been so great already! I'm keeping with my half marathon training schedule and ran two miles this morning with Chelsea. It took me 19:27 and I don't think that's too bad for not having run in a very... very... very long time. After running, Chelsea and I had our swimming lesson which went pretty well, but it was a little colder today and Chelsea mostly wanted to be snuggled close to me (which I don't mind too much) and her little bath toy. We went to the grocery store after that, came home and put away all the groceries, ate lunch, played for a little while, took a bath, cleaned the bathroom, and now little miss Chelsea is sleeping. Not bad at all! And let me tell you, that towel apron I made last week is probably one of my favorite things I've made. There's nothing better than cuddling close to your little one after a nice bath. If you haven't taken a look at it yet and/or made it, I would say: DO IT! I love it. Here's a link to the tutorial.
I hope you're having as productive day as I am! Turn on some Disney music and get to it, friends!
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