DIY: Christmas Stockings

Multi-colored underwear rolled up and tied with a bow, decadent candies, lottery tickets that are sure to win hit the jackpot and socks (of course).  Oh what treasures I choose to fill up my husband’s stocking.  With the addition of Clara in 2010, I was PUMPED to make her a stocking I could fill with wonderful treats and gifts. 

For a few years, I had my Fashion Design students design custom stockings and create advertisements for their Merchandising unit.  Over time, I switched to different projects- but I still use this same stocking pattern from McCall’s to make stockings for my own girls.  The pattern calls for a heel and toe patch, but I threw those out and replaced them with appliqued designs (click the link on how to applique by hand from a previous lesson!).  Make sure to applique the designs you want BEFORE you sew the stocking together.

Although my husband kept humming the theme from “Charlie Brown” while I stitched on the chevron pieces for Ruby’s stocking this year, I am happy that I chose the super trendy design.  In a few Christmas’s when Ruby asks me why I chose to put random zig-zags on her stocking, I can retell the story of 2012- The Year of the Chevron.  The magical tale of how anything that could stand still had the diagonal lines painted, traced or sewn onto it!  

I also added an extra touch by embroidering their names on the cuff.  I am no master embroider by any means, but it was fun to carry on the embroidery tradition from my Grandma Betty. 

I am so proud of my new stockings- maybe I can replace Mommy and Daddy’s stockings in the coming years.  I am getting a little tired of a Cincinnati Bengal on my beautiful mantel.

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November 28, 2012. Tags: , , , . Family Life, Fashion. 1 comment.

My Obsession with Halloween

A devil complete with a goatee and a pitchfork, a Minnie Mouse with individually cut out polka dots since I’m sure the perfect fabric could not be found but had to be created, and my personal favorite………. a California Raisin.  Is this the beginning of a really bad joke?  No, it’s the vast repertoire of AMAZING Halloween costumes my mother made for me as a child.  If I could dream it up, she could create it.  And honestly, I don’t ever remember asking to be a certain character because her ideas were always amazing.  This began my obsession with Halloween, or costumes at least.

Clara’s first Halloween bore the challenge of a slightly mobile 7 month old baby.  I took this opportunity to create a Mermaid ensemble since she didn’t need the ability to move her legs.  All the kicking and struggling to get out just made the fins look more life-like 🙂

Her second Halloween was an omage to her favorite Sesame Street Character, Abby Cadaby.  Honestly, I just wanted to make her those sweet poofy pigtails and give her purple freckles.

Finally, this year was my first challenge of coordinating costumes with the addition of sweet baby Ruby.  I wanted to put her in a “sack” just like Clara was her first year…. so what better than a caterpillar!?  A Butterfly was the perfect companion.  And with lots of green and yellow Minky leftover from the Nap Mat, this pair of bugs only cost me about $10. 

The tutu was an afterthought when I realized how much Clara loved to dance around in one she had received from her Oma Janet.  My opinion of random tutu’s on costumes was similar to one of my favorite “Mean Girls” line.  You know, girls use Halloween as an excuse to wear lingerie and just pair it with animal ears.  I think mothers of little girls want an excuse for them to wear tutus, so we make them match any random costume.  Whatever….she looked super cute!

Ruby with the lady who started it all…Nana!  Hope I made her proud!

November 16, 2012. Family Life, Fashion. Leave a comment.

Applesauce, Baby (Or Baby Applesauce)

Is there anything more autumnal than picking apples? (how’s that vocabulary for ya?!)  My husband and I have made it a yearly tradition since we were dating, and now love involving our little girls in the event!  Clara had a blast this year: throwing fruit, destroying fallen limbs and climbing on her Daddy’s shoulders.  Sweet Little Ruby was still a tad too tiny to enjoy the day, so I made her some delicious homemade applesauce so she could get in on the action!

Baby Applesauce

1. Pick Apples on a beautiful fall morning

2. Take apples home and wash them, cut them up and put them in the adorable Dutch Oven pot your mom got you for Christmas a few years ago. (I LOVE this thing)  I left the skins on because that’s where all the nutrients are for my Roobs!

3. Add enough water to  cover half the apples and a dash of cinnamon.

4. Simmer for about 30 minutes, then puree.

5. Freeze in ice cube trays and little babies will love it!

October 30, 2012. Family Life, Recipes. Leave a comment.

How to Hem (In 4 different Languages!)

Teaching anyone to sew by hand for the first time can be challenging.  The awkward way they hold a needle, overcoming their mental block of not understanding a new skill and using the new vocabulary of sewing is difficult in of itself.  Imagine having these obstacles combined with not speaking the same langauge as some my students and a dead video projector that usually blows up the images so students actually see what’s going on in my hands: That was my week.

My school has a very large population of English Language Learners (ELL students) which require special attention while planning a lesson.  With my projector, I could literally display what I was doing on the board using my Document Reader (like a really awesome camera that zooms in on my hands while I sew!).  This helps ALL my students  see  an enormous image of what I am trying to show them, instead of having  small groups gather around my hands like a pow-wow.  So now I have no camera, which is helpful for my ELL kids since they can simply follow my hands instead of my voice.  Challenge.

This made for a very humorous couple of days in my Fashion Design class.  These girls were awesome: they were patient, asked good questions and didn’t get too frustrated with me.  Our main problem came with my interesting way of explaining things (which is usually helpful to American students!) but completely confused my ELLs!

While hand hemming (which I will post below), one step requires the needle to angle down into the fabric.  This is a strange step because the students always assume everything has to be perfectly straight when they sew.  Therefore, when I am performing this step (usually on my camera, but this time standing in front of the class) I make an airplane noise and tell the students to nose dive into the fabric.  Don’t judge me.  They like it.  They get it.  But, my Ukrainian student gave me the oddest look.  With her dark eye brows furrowed, she says “What airplane are you talking about?” (imagine in kind of a “Moose & Squirrel” type of accent).  Funny.

I also enjoy personifying the English Language a little bit.  In the last step of the final stitch, the needle goes through the loop to make a knot.  For some reason, this is beyond my students realm of thinking.  But, telling them to put the bunny in the hole always makes them laugh and they know exactly what I’m saying.  Not a kid who doesn’t speak English.  My Russian girl yells, “Meesis Dahmreen, whahhht bunnies are you talking aboud!?”.  All the Americans had a good laugh, and her partner showed her the loop on her fabric- she got it then and gave me a smile.

Then, my Burmese student begins to mock me.  I start to discover that she knows exactly what she is doing- growing up in the jungle of a war-torn country, I guess you learn how to sew without a machine pretty proficiently.    Before I have chance to describe a step, in her raspy, meek and (I have no idea how else to describe a Burmese accent) she talks to herself and mimics exactly what I’m going to say before I have a chance.  SO FUNNY! 

By the end of the week we had successfully sewed on buttons and learned to sew a hem- language barriers and all. Tune in next week, when I teach my Culinary Arts students to julienne a carrot (in Vietnamese, Ukranian, Burmese and Spanish!)

HOW TO HEM!

 

1. Measure the length of the desired hem and press.

2. On the raw edge, press under ¼”

3. Place the needle INSIDE the two pieces of fabric (so the knot is hidden between the fabric) and push out into the wrong side of the folded fabric (the inside of the garment)

4. Pull the thread tight and push the needle back through fabric JUST above the folded edge (into the single layer of fabric) and to the left of where the needle come out.

5. Once you’ve pushed the needle through the single layer of fabric, take a SMALL amount back onto the need (however much fabric you take is how much the thread will show!)

6. Push the needle back through the folded fabric, angled slightly.  Stitches will not be straight, but consistently angled.

October 5, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

How to Feed Your Grandma

I have an unconventional grandmother.  A wonderfully quirky, never made a cookie in her life, sparkle-in-her-eyes, unconventional…..grandma.  You might assume that a girl in the profession of “Home Ec” (Family Consumer Science, actually!) would have an apron wearing, secret recipes type of matriarch.  But Myrt (yes, I do call her by her first name) was a business owner while raising her children and never had time to concentrate and relish in homemaking.  When spending the night with her as children, my sister and I would often make dinner for her and Bob (yep, I rarely call him grandpa either) and she was always impressed with our love of cooking which we inherited from the other branch of our family tree. 

These days my goal when cooking for Myrt is to make her forget she’s a Type 1 diabetic.  She’s been plagued by this dreadful disease for as long as I can remember.  Although she never has had much of sweet tooth, I have always felt terrible that she could not partake in the sweet yumminess of birthdays and holidays.  I have made it my goal to perfect the art of using Splenda in any dish possible in such a way that it is untraceable to the common palate.  I have had many of her recipe requests for me turn flat.  Literally, she requested a chocolate cake last year and it was, indeed…. flat.  This weekend I am going to make her favorite concoction of mine: Peanut Butter Pie.  She loves this so much, I almost have to make her an extra to take home! 

Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Pie

No Sugar Added Peanut Butter Pie

1 Oreo Cookie Crust (Made with Sugar-Free Oreos-yes, they do make these!)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup Splenda
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup milk
16 oz Sugar-Free Whipped Topping
Sugar-Free Chocolate Syrup (“Great Value”!!!) 
 
1. Beat together the cream cheese and Splenda.  Mix in peanut butter and milk then beat until smooth.
2.  Gently fold in the Whipped Topping.
3.  Pour ALL the filling into the crust at once, and spread from the inside out to ensure no cookie crumbs stick to the mixture. Drizzle with chocolate syrup.
4.  Chill at least 4 hours and ENJOY a delicious sweet treat without an insulin spike!

September 3, 2012. Family Life, Healthy Stuff, Recipes. 1 comment.

Back to School……Back to School…..

‘Tis that time of year again! I got a lot accomplished this summer: gave birth, finished potty training my daughter….you know, the usual.   Thanks to Pinterest I got a lot of fun projects and recipes under my belt as well!  Here are my last 2 pins of the summer!

The Nap Mat:  Since my daughter is a giant and doesn’t quite fit in a Pack-n-Play anymore, she needed a new place to sleep at the babysitter’s.  The Babbysitter showed me a pin for this Nap Mat as a solution to our napping dilema.  So cute!  It was fairly easy, although I unsuccessully tried to “Courtney-ize” it by thiking I’m smarter than the tutorial- which I wasn’t.  If I make another, I probably won’t add the velco so the foam can be removed.  It wasn’t a pretty sight…..   No pics of my Sweet Clara using it, but she is loving it! Here is the tutorial picture, though.  Very Similar.

Egg Muffins:  In my quest to eat less carbohydrates I ate a lot of egg whites this summer.  With two crazy girls to get ready in the morning I did not want to make eggs every day, but didn’t want to give into cereal’s temptation.  This pin solved my problem!  What a great idea and so yummy!  I cooked a bunch of these suckers on Sunday and I can reheat them every morning and eat on the way to work!  Here is my variation and the websites pic.

Pinned Image

1 carton Egg Whites

1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped

1/4 red onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh spinach, chiffonade

Mozzerella Cheese

Salt & Pepper

Mix together and pour into greased muffin tins.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20 min.

August 14, 2012. Family Life, I love my job!, Recipes. 2 comments.

Pin #9: Welcome to Mrs. Dameron’s Room!

I haven’t created any new Pinspirations in a week or two because I’ve been busy (*cough*…..lazy).  Actually, I have been spending many an afternoon looking up new ideas and buying fabric.  I found a Fabric Outlet with $1.99 knit and I’ve been gathering ideas of what I can make so I can buy all the knit I need in one shopping trip.  Many a day dreaming session has been spent thinking about the projects I’m excited to start….a Nap Mat for Clara (I’ll post in a few days),  too many dresses and tops to count, Halloween costumes (so excited to make 2 coordinating costumes this year!) and of course…..CHRISTMAS DRESSES!  I know with school starting back I won’t have as much time to get crafty- because I’ll be teaching the future of America how to indeed be crafty themselves!  There’s that dreaded word……school.

Since school is starting back whether I like it or not, I have had many thoughts on how to dress up my room.  It is shockingly my 6th year of teaching and I have barely changed a decoration since I first moved in.  I have been eyeing some black and white chevron fabric for new curtains, and searching for cheap wall decor ideas.  I like my students to feel comfortable in my room,  but also inspired by pretty things.  One way I thought I could welcome my new students and let them know that the space they are about to enter can be a home away from home was with a wreath.  I have a zero dollar budget for room decorating, so I scrounged through what I had in my craft closet.  I amazingly found a letter “D” on clearance for $.64, revamped a grapevine wreath I have never used and was inspired by these sweet felt flowers.  Welcome to Mrs. Dameron’s room…….. when you enter this room you are safe, you are noticed, and you are loved.

July 29, 2012. I love my job!, Interior Design. Leave a comment.

Pin #8: Too Short Dress to Just Right Skirt

I’m tall.  Not like Amazon tall, but taller than the average woman and enough to tower over most of my friends.  Combine this with most designers creating “knee-length” dresses and I get hemlines that aren’t appropriate for work.  Leggings are my friend, although I don’t think they are as trendy as they were a few years ago.  Whatever, I’m wearing them to keep from flashing my students when I lean over to answer to a question.

I bought one of these “just short enough” dresses a few years ago, trying to ignore the fact that is was just slightly shorter than any pair of shorts I would I would ever dare to wear.  The fabric was so darn cute, I even ignored the fact that it was a high-waisted, über pleated, lined dress that would make a broom look pregnant.   Needless to say I have never worn this dress.  But when I saw a pin come across the market for turning a dress into a skirt- I knew what I had to do!

I didn’t really follow the directions because no two dresses are exactly the same.  But, it gave me some inspiration to get started.  Here’s what I did:

1. I put on the dress like it was a skirt to see if it would fit appropriately.  Ironically, the zipper was stuck where the bodice meets the skirt.  What an awesome purchase I made. Anyway, that looked like a great place to make a new waistline and it was the perfect length.

2. I measured an inch from seam where the skirt met the bodice (great new waistline) and cut the top off- straight through the zipper.  Yes, you can cut through a zipper.  I have to talk my students through this process; I guess they think it will explode if they cut it off!

3. This dress had a lining, so I ended up cutting through two layers of fabric.  I folded them TOWARD each other at 1/2″ so they would be right sides together and form a nice new seam with no raw edges.  At the opening, I folded down the remaining zipper toward the inside (between the facing and lining).  You can’t just cut off the top of the zipper and call it good- you have to fold it over so it can stop.  Other wise that puppy will zip right off!

4. I sewed at 1/4″ and it was done!

Hooray for “new” clothes!

July 17, 2012. Fashion. Leave a comment.

Pin #7: Ruby’s Slippers

If you weren’t (insert occupation here) what would you be doing?  Me? I would be enjoying a brilliant career as a children’s shoe designer.    After a few years of being a consumer of baby and toddler shoes, I have many times been on the verge of a very loud “UGGHH” sound in the baby shoe section.  Why? Because they aren’t made for baby feet or baby clothes….ever.  People who buy shoes for babies who don’t belong to them think the itsy bitsy shoes are adorable and buy them for the cute factor, and as a recipient you often find that the hot pink glitter sling backs with purple sequence butterflies don’t match anything that has ever been created. Cute?  yes.  Ridiculous? yes.  How about the progression of toddler shoes that they wear when they can actually walk?  I recently bought Clara 2 pairs of somewhat “matchable” flip-flops only to have her flip-out when I put them on her feet.  I realized that the sole of the shoe was thicker and harder than my own shoes, and the plastic “thong” part was exactly the same size as mine!  How are little feet supposed to walk in these?

While I can’t quite gather up supplies or skills to make Clara some reasonable shoes, I can make Ruby some sensible white  slip-ons that she can wear to church.  White.  No lady bugs, no polka dots.  Little elegant white shoes that will match any baby dress.  Although the elves are supposed to make the shoes while the Cobbler sleeps; this Cobbler made the shoes while the elves slept 🙂

Lots of flaws, I know.  I made a poor fabric choice because I had some left over from a Wilma Flintstone costume.  I swear those toes are perfectly clipped and rounded off- but her little toes just curl up inside them and make the fabric pucker.  Oh well.  I’m pretty happy with how they turned out and only have 2 suggestions from the TUTORIAL:

1.  Topstitch the top of the shoe:  I made a first pair and noticed that there was a lot of puckering and not enough shape.  After the second try the topstitching really helped the shoes take form.

2.  Make sure you cut a Left and Right:  Sounds dumb but it’s not in the instructions (which it really shouldn’t be).  But I had to stop myself when cutting out the sole and remember to flip one of them over before I cut and LABEL it. 

3.  Add elastic:  After finding that one slipper was slightly bigger than the other and that 2 month old babies love to kick their feet- I added some elastic to the inside back of the heal to grip her sweet little foot a little bit better!

July 10, 2012. Fashion, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Pin #6: What Mommy Outgrows Becomes Clara’s New Clothes

I’m cheap.  Like really, really cheap.  I have a very hard time buying clothes for my daughters that cost more than $5 at the very most.  I love to scope out the clearance racks, and friends hate going shopping with me because I look at EVERYTHING on every clearance rack.  But, that’s how I manage to keep my ladies dressed in super cute threads for super cheap.  However one of my retailers, Wal-Mart, has been majorly letting me down lately!  They must be hoarding all of last seasons deals in some magical wharehouse somewhere because I haven’t been able to spend my weekly 15 minutes lost in their clearance.  Therefore, it’s time to turn to Pinterest for some thrifty ideas!

My first attempt at repurposing something old into something new for Clara came after my husband mysterioulsly got a bleach spot on a fabulous shamrock green linen shirt. It was just a darn shame to let this fabric (a clearance steal I got for him @ GAP outlet last summer) go in the trash.  So, I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration.  I ended up with this little gem. 

Daddy’s ruined shirt

Clara’s new tunic!

I was really happy with the end result and learned that the trick to making these dresses NOT look homemade is to use as many of the original seams as possible.  My next project came after ridding my closet of clothes I should have never bought or would take a miracle for me to able to wear again.  I could blame it on having two babies- but I’m really just lazy and chubby.  I pulled out this little number from the DAV pile and imagined a very fashionable little frock for Fall. 

This cheap knit shirt I purchased from Sarah Jessica Parker’s clothing line at Steve & Barry’s turned out to be a great repurpose project because it itself was not perfect.  While making a pattern for the sleeves I noticed that they weren’t even the same size!  Way to go Sarah Jessica Parker.  This fact didn’t make me so sad when the stripes didn’t match anymore when I had to resize the collar.  Oh well, old imperfection to new imperfection I guess.  To make an extra layers of ruffle, I used the hem from last weeks tank dress that was cut off.  Clara LOVED this little dress and I could barely get it off her to put it away for Fall church attendance.  I even tried to put a little flower on it to dress it up a bit, but she thought it was so cool she eventually tore it off!

Before

I used an outgrown dress to help create a pattern and a paper bag to draw a sleeve patternAlways remember to make new pattern piece at least 5/8" larger around all edges!

I made an extra layer of ruffle from the bottom hem of last weeks tank dress!

July 1, 2012. Family Life, Fashion, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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