Saturday, July 31, 2010

Craft Hope

I've talked about Craft Hope a few times before, and participated in a couple of their projects now. What an great organization this is, rallying crafters to craft for good causes. The momentum behind Craft Hope seems to be growing, as the last project was their largest yet, with over 70,000 rags being donated. Project 9 was announced this past week and I am so excited about it. They are asking for fun, colorful pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer, an organization that distributes these pillowcases to very ill children (and teens) while they are in the hospital. Just a little something to brighten their rooms and bring a smile to their face. I have so much juvenile fabric that I really didn't think I'd ever use, so Rachel and I got busy pulling pieces out of my stash right away so that I could get started. I whipped up three the first night. They are quick and easy. You can make whatever style you want (basic instructions here), just make it fun and out of 100% cotton. Craft Hope's website gives more details, as does the ConKerr site - should you be interested. After the fun we had at our rag cutting party, I am working on organizing a pillowcase party and will hopefully find a way to get the kids involved as well. Look for a link to Lark Crafts on Monday, as there will be an interview with Jade Sims of Craft Hope (her book is in stores now), and a photo from our cutting party is rumored to be showing up on the site as well.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Well the girls and I are back from out visit with my parents, albeit a few days later than what we had intended. My Dad gave me the scare of my life while we were at the city pool with the girls. He was feeling a little "woozy" on his way up the stairs to the water slide and while we aren't sure what all happened before people got to him, the end result was him lying on the landing unconscious in my arms for several minutes with cuts to his head and lip. He obviously fell and hit his head, but no one saw it happen. He passed out once I was with him, so I know he didn't fall and hit his head at that point, although maybe he passed out more than once. Who knows. I know that I was scared. Very scared. And I know that I am so proud of both my girls for how brave they were. I am also very grateful for the people at the pool who help him (and I) and some very kind mothers who took my girls under their wings and watched over them while panic and chaos ensued.

The end result was almost four days in the hospital, numerous tests, a heart catheterization and still no concrete answer as to why. Thankfully, he is going to participate in a clinical trial of a new medication and will be more closely monitored by doctors than if he had been sent home with no commitment to the trial.

That's not really happy talk though, is it? So instead of dwelling on that, I am excited to share you what I brought home with me from our journey. Have I mentioned how awesome the Goodwill is by my parents? Well it is. So good that I'm afraid to tell you where it might beat me to the good stuff. The middle pillow case in the above photo came from there. The matching set came from their Salvation Army. The were folded and looked like they'd been stored in a box somewhere very dirty. At $2.99 for the set, I decided it was worth the gamble to see if they came clean. I've soaked them in OxiClean, mixed an OxiClean paste to cover some stubborn spots and the results are pretty good. They need a bit more spot treatment and then I'll hand wash them and I'm sure they'll be just right by then.

The above stack all came from the Goodwill, although I did have to go more than once to score them all. The top piece is a tablecloth (I think.....well, it is now), the rest are sheets. I remember my Grandma having a set like the bottom one, so I was happy to find that. I also purchased my girl's school clothes for the next two years on Saturday, when kid's clothes were on sale for 79 cents a piece. I picked up several Gap tops and jeans amongst (many) other things.

And my awesome thrifting Aunt had left a box for me at my parent's that was full of goodies. This is just a sampling. Beads, buttons, sewing notions, embroidery floss, jewelry pieces, stamps.....a little bit of everything. I am hoping that once the girls are in school, I will have some new found time to put all of my goodies to use. Right after I make the house sparkling clean and have a delicious dinner ready and waiting, of course ; )

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back in the Kitchen

The girls and I are headed to my parent's house tomorrow. We'll spend five days there hanging out and also getting to visit with my Grandmother. And because I'm not exactly prompt with gifts, I will also be taking my Dad his Father's Day gift.

I was stumped as to what to give him this year, so decided I'd stick with the perfect gift. It's something he loves, it doesn't take up much space, it's consumable and it tastes yummy.

(crust recipe from here....I'm curious to try the almond crust as well)

Ahhh.....fresh mulberry pie. I heeded the comments and increased my berries to 4 C (could have added more), reduced my sugar to 3/4 C (I suspect I could have made do with 1/2 C) and upped my flour to 1/3 C with a pinch more. With a little help we got it made this morning and it's sitting, hidden away, waiting to be delivered tomorrow.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Bit of This and That

I'm starting to get the crafty urge back. Something about this summer has made it hard for me to work. With the girls home, there is just no time (or peace) during the day, and at night I guess I'm just a bit too spent to start on something once they go to bed. I did manage two small projects this week though, that have me itching to keep moving forward.

I needed a gift for my girl's night out bingo game last night. Money was tight this week and I would have felt guilty spending money on a bingo gift, so I worked with what I had. I figured a jar of fresh, homemade blackberry jam would be a good place to start, but wanted to add something to it. I have been inspired by pieces of work like this one by metro-station and wanted to give something like that a go myself. I know there are others I have seen and would like to share them with you as well, but I can't seem to find them right now. So this is what I came up with, a dish towel to go with the jar of jam. I had a stash of these plain white towels that I'd picked up in Target's Dollar Zone quite a while ago (maybe around Easter ...2009 possibly) and I knew that one day they'd serve their purpose, which I think they've done quite swimmingly. I did throw in a nice bar of dark chocolate as well, so that hopefully the gift was not disappointing (can you really be disappointed if you get chocolate?).

I've also been distracted by this website, which I'd read a bit about in the Spring issue of Stitch. There is also a great Flickr pool which I would recommend checking out. Conveniently enough, I have a lot of clothes that I don't particularly love and as a bonus, I am not inclined to get rid of things very easily, which comes in very handy if you'd like to start chopping up your clothes and refashioning them. Case in point, the long linen skirt above. I love the color of the linen and the fact that it is linen, but the length was not doing it for me anymore.

I believe it was this picture of Fiona Goble's first upcycled skirt that reminded me of my own blue-gray skirt that needed a new life. I happened to have this leafy print from Ikea in my stash, which matched the color of the skirt pretty well (in certain dim light) and decided to go for it.

I chopped the skirt off a few inches above the side slits and added the decorative print band to the bottom. Then I cut one leaf out of a bit of scrap, attached it with Heat-n-Bond Lite and free motion stitched around it to ensure that it stayed put. I'm really happy with the results, but you will have to settle for the hanger modeling it, because I'm less than happy with the shape of my pudgy knees right now.

While I work on the issue of my knees (and other unsightly bits), rest assured that nothing in my closet is safe from my scissors right now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In the Kitchen

It's been hot here this week. Really hot....and humid. Really humid. My sewing is upstairs in an area that stays quite stuffy during the day when it's this hot out. So in lieu of sewing, I've been downstairs in the kitchen, with the oven running. I can assure you that that too, is hot. But the results have been tasty.

Last Wednesday the girls and I went with some friends to pick blackberries at Crabtree Farms. There were enough berries for a batch of jam and this blackberry crisp. Oh my. I typically see cobbler recipes for summer fruits and to be honest, I don't really love cobbler that much (although if you bring me some, I will gladly eat it). I'd much rather have a pie or crisp. Oh how I love the topping on a crisp! Butter, sugar, nuts - good stuff. I used this Martha recipe and altered it slightly. Instead of 1 1/2 cups of white flour, I did half white and half wheat. I also added some chopped pecans to the topping and when I do it again, I'll probably also add a few tablespoons of ground flax seed for good measure.

The zucchini in my garden are coming in faster than I can feed them to my non-zucchini loving family. I'm sure everyone was thrilled with my choice of squashes for the garden, but hey, when you can turn it into yummy bread, what's not to love? My neighbor made this bread for us last year and it was so good, I knew it was the recipe I needed. If you think you might need it as well, here it is......

Zucchini-Pineapple Bread

Beat until fluffy:
3 Eggs
2 Cups Sugar
2 Tsp. Vanilla
1 Cup vegetable oil

3 Cups Flour (reserve 1/2 Cup to mix with nuts & raisins)
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Cup Crushed Pineapple
2 Cups Grated Zucchini

Mix with Flour and Add:
1 Cup Nuts
1/2 Cup Raisins (optional)

Spoon into two greased & floured loaf pans. Bake at 325 for 1 hour.

Yes, the good news is you'll get TWO loaves. I was nice and shared with the neighbors. I know, pineapple sounds like an odd ingredient, but it gives the bread a sweetness. I reduced the sugar to 1 1/2 cups and also split my flour 50/50 white and wheat. Even with the reduction in sugar, there is plenty of sweetness and the wheat flour is not overpowering. I think the best review I got was from Sarah, our non-vegetable eating vegetarian who loved it and declared "I don't even taste zucchini!". Anyone have any other zucchini recipes that don't taste like zucchini?

And then there was today. No wheat flour, no flax seed, no reduction in sugar. Just my girls and their Easy Bake Oven. Oh how I do not love the Easy Bake Oven. I absolutely will not pay $3 (or more) for a cake mix that will make one four inch cake, so I looked online and found this recipe for chocolate cake. Don't you love a recipe where everything is in teaspoons? Add to that the fact that they wanted to make layer cakes.... and each their own. We were easy-bakin' it for almost an hour and a half. The first two can out poorly, but salvageable and their cakes were iced, sprinkled and partially eaten.........

I wouldn't let them eat it all - can you tell why?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Weekend Celebrations

A word of warning, this is a picture heavy post. There isn't a lot to be said for our weekend. We visited our Georgia relatives, driving first to my in-law's house and spending the day and night with them and then heading on to my brother-in-law's to spend another day and night with his family before heading home weary from so much fun and sun.

Grandpa Mel had built a wishing well for the kids over the sight of an old well. The girl's loved it. They loved it even more when he gave them coins to wish on and then let them clean out the well the next day!

The business of wishing on your coins before throwing them in is very serious business. I loved watching them clutch the coin and whisper their wishes quietly enough so that I couldn't make out what they were.

There was so much for the girl's to do at their Grandparent's and they loved it all - playing in Grandpa's garden, wading in the creek, running in their big front yard, riding "pedal carts" (imagine a go-cart frame, but with bike pedals), climbing, jumping, being a kid......

At Uncle Dan's, there was lots and lots of swimming followed by sparklers at night. It took the little one several attempts to take control of a sparkler, but she came around in the end. Who doesn't love fire on the end of a stick?

How lucky we were to be able to relax, hang out with family, enjoy our kids and enjoy a gorgeous three day weekend. It's so seldom that we actually stop and just enjoy what's going on - really, it should be done more often.