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.

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 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 #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.

Pin#4: A Very Pinteresting Father’s Day

Rich and I don’t make a big deal out of extravagent gift giving on holidays.  We usually exchange our favorite decadent candies and a few novelties we might not buy for ourselves.  My husband is EXTREMELY hard to buy for because he is ridiculousy picky and buys anything he wants for himself out of his ever growing “investmest fund” (his Christmas and birthday money that he uses to buy tickets and resell them or ebay the ballpark giveways).  This being said, it is hard to impress him with gifts….until I found PINTEREST!

I have pinning ideas for him since I started Pinterest and I used 4 different ideas as inspiration for his Father’s Day gifts; plus 1 bag of No Show socks because well….. he needed them.

1. Circus Truffles Rich recently discovered frosted animal cookies (a favorite childhood treat of my own) and when I saw these I knew I had to try them.  This recipe calls for crushed frosted cookies- but I thought that would be far too rich.  So I changed the recipe to 3 cups crushed plain animal crackers, 12 oz cream cheese frosting and white melting chocolate.  They are yummy and taste very similar to their namesake.

2. “I love you this much” card.  I forgot to take a picture of it.. but I used this idea to make a card using on of Clara’s and one of Ruby’s hands. 

Pinned Image

3 & 4 “Candy Poem”  I’ve gotten a few candy poems in my day as a teacher.  You know, “You’re worth a 100 Grand” or “You’re a Smartie Pants”.  But, when I saw this idea for using different kinds of pop to show appreciation I knew I wanted to write a special one for Rich.  I wrote it on a large piece of posterboard like I had seen pinned many times and Rich loved it!  I started by going to the candy aisle and only contemplating candies that are his favorites…with the exception of “Sugar Babies”.  That was just to darn cute to pass up.  Trying to incorporate “Mike & Ike” was pushing it, but I think that’s the line that got him a little emotional.  Best reaction from a gift I have EVER gotten from him!  Here is the final result (the bottle of pop is Diet Mtn Dew…. get it…. “DEW for us” !?!) Please excuse my terrible handwriting on this project!

June 17, 2012. Family Life, Recipes. 1 comment.

12 Weeks to Complete 12 Pins!

I have recently joined the wonderful world of Pinterest, an activity I shied away from all school year.  I know myself pretty well these days, and I knew that I would become obsessed with looking at all the wonderful things other people are able to accomplish and become downtrodden that my house, wardrobe, kitchen and children weren’t like the pictures I would pin.  In order to keep myself accountable against this inevitable course of events, I set some ground rules for myself:

1. Only pin items that are “do-able”:  I will not pin anything just because its pretty, especially if it’s of a hairstyle my wild curls could never be molded into or of a room that could never be found in my home!  This website is filled with links to ridiculous looking homes that I am convinced aren’t lived in by actual people.

2. Only pin what I WILL actually do:  If I know I’ll never have the money, the guts or the time to try it…. I will continue to scroll!!!

Rule #2 is my goal for this summer: 12 weeks to complete 12 pins!  I will choose a minimum of 12 projects, recipes and activities to complete over the course of the summer to further keep myself accountable and not get bogged down in a scrapbook of ideas I could never bring to fruition!  I’m excited to update my living room decor, repurpose old junk, try new recipes and make fun things for my girls!

May 23, 2012. Family Life. Leave a comment.

Mmmmm…. Peach Cake!

Most families have some sort of a tradition when it comes to birthdays.  Mine does the usual, “Pick Where We Eat” ritual, but my sister and I have added a “Choose Any Dessert” element to the mix in the past couple of years.  When asked what I wanted this year, without taking a breath I responded, “PEACH CAKE!”.  This recipe was given to my sister about 10 years ago, and every time she makes it I go into a state of bliss!  This means A LOT coming from a girl who usually prefers chocolate to anything else! 

Before I post the recipe, I need to state that this is not really a cake.  Custard? Layered Dessert? And honestly, reading the recipe for the first time, it doesn’t even sound that appetizing!  I don’t really know what it is about this cake, but it’s AMAZING and is the perfect way to kick off Spring!!!

Peach Cake

3/4 c. cold butter

1 pkg yellow cake mix

2 egg yolks

2 c. sour cream (can be low or no fat)

1 29 oz can sliced peaches drained ( or 3 ¾ cup frozen or fresh)

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 8 oz Cool Whip

 

Cut butter into dry cake mix to form coarse crumbs.

Pat into greased 13 x 9 pan.

Beat egg yolks.

Add sour cream, mix well.  

Cut peaches into 1 inch pieces, save 6-8 slices for garnish.

Mix peaches into sour cream mixture.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until brown on bottom, will be soft center.

Cool completely.  Spread whip topping and garnish with peach slices.

Store in refrigerator. 

Recipe from Stephanie Tscherny, my beloved sister

March 7, 2012. Family Life, Recipes. Leave a comment.

Comfort Food: Mom’s Hamburger Supper

 

The first unit of most FACS classes begins with a unit about “WHY ARE YOU LEARNING THIS?’, so I’ve been talking a lot of about why we wear clothes (Fashion), live in houses (Interior Design), eat in restaurants (Culinary Arts) and today………..choose to eat certain foods (Nutrition).  One of those reasons being for Psychological reasons.  A big reason we eat certain foods is for the way they make us feel emotionally.  We can simply smell the food circling around the kitchen and it can take us back to a different time.

I made my favorite comfort food the other day after a friend gave me a whole lot of ground beef!  I never buy beef, so I took the opportunity to reminisce my favorite childhood meal: Mom’s Hamburger Supper.  She calls it Hamburger Dinner for 2 since she and my dad made it up when they were newlyweds and were flat broke.  That should answer the question of ingredients, there aren’t many!

Since I have never done things exactly the way my mom told me to, here is my version of her yummy, comforting meal!  Her version calls for a can of Cream of Mushroom soup instead of making the gravy from a roux: but that’s how I roll.

Hamburger Supper
1/2 pound ground beef
1 T flour
1 cup milk
 
1. Season the ground beef with Worcestershire sauce, chili powder & garlic powder.  Form into thin patties.
2. Fry patties in a skillet (cast iron preferably) on Medium heat until cooked thoroughly.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
3.  Remove enough of the grease until only 1 tablespoon or so remains, keep all the yummy crispies!
4. Make a roux: That’s fancy for stir in the flour until it forms a paste.  Keep stirring it around until you smell a nutty aroma and the paste is a little darker.Whisk in the milk and stir like crazy while the mixture heats up and thickens.
5.  Add the patties back to the skillet and let simmer 5 minutes.
6.  Serve with veggies and mashed potatoes!

 

September 1, 2011. Family Life, Recipes. Leave a comment.