Pin #5: Dressing Up- You CAN make your own dress!

I love to wear dresses, which is strange since I think I had only worn them to funerals and school dances before I became a teacher.  But, just because I’m a teacher who wears a lot of dresses does not mean they are jean jumpers with embroidered school houses on them.  I can give you a long explanation of why I choose to wear dresses many days of professional work week, but simply put, I don’t like to wear to pants.  It does however, cause a similar problem that I hear people who wear scrubs to work have: if you don’t ever wear pants that fit- you don’t know how fat you’re getting!  With that danger in mind, I still love to sport a long flowing dress to the classroom!

Dresses can be expensive and I am too cheap to spend more than $15 on a dress, ever.  I don’t sew my own dresses, for the same reason I don’t ever make any of my own clothes: it’s hard and expensive.  To buy all the fabric and notions needed for a cute dress would be far over my $15 budget and I probably won’t be proud to wear a garment with a wonky collar & floppy facing. So when I saw this pin come across the page, I was excited to give it a try.  Simply purchase a tank and 2 yards of fabric (I needed a ‘lil more than instructed because of the aforementioned waistline) and some elastic thread if you don’t already have some.  VOILA! A super cute little dress that works for casual summer affairs or “pro-it-up” with a cardigan.  I do have a few suggestions for making this dress:

1. BUYING FABRIC:  This is the worst part of sewing projects for me. A store full of brightly colored bolts of fabric contains for too many possibilties for me, and I may or may not have a had a panic attack or 2 at FM Store in past visits.  I have learned my lesson to not go in without a plan.  Since I was making a dress for myself, I kept my eyes open for large prints in 1-2 colors.  It’s tempting to look for what’s cute- but its important to look at the fabric like each bolt is an actual dress not just the print.  Patterns that are too small can be overwhelming to look at when being worn although may be adorable on the roll. 

2. CUTTING THE BODICE: Bodice is a fancy word for the “top” in the sewing world, and once you cut the tank top there is no going back.  Make sure you measure how much you want to cut from the BOTTOM hem, not how much you want to keep from the top.  Pin the tank closed at the hem, matching the edges and cut how much you want to take off- subtracting 5/8″ to that measurement.  My students often cut things for how long they WANT them to be in the end, and forget to measure what they want to keep and how much will be the seam allowance.  This mistake could make the bodice too short and you’ve wasted a perfectly good tank.  After you cut, fold the tank in half and mark the middle front and middle back.  Take the extra minute to do this, you will thank me.

3. FITTING THE SKIRT: As mentioned for the tank, take the time to mark the top of the skirts front middle and sides (the back middle is the seam). Skip the step in the tutorial that tells you to sew a long stitch around the fabric with elastic thread.  It does gather the fabric, but not enough to match the marks you’ve made on the tank and skirt easily.  Go ahead and leave your regular thread in the machine and baste around the top.  THEN, match the marks you made on the tank and skirt.  This sounds like extra work, but I ended up having to go back and do this because I didn’t know where to match the two pieces together.  These small steps will save a headache.  After you match the MARKS, GATHER the basting stitch to make the skirt fit the tank. This worked MUCH better!  Now, you can sew them together with the elastic thread.

This project was easy and I was really happy with the end result!  And since it ended up costing me exactly $15 to make, I would call it a success!  I didn’t want to post an awkward picture of myself wearing the dress, so here is a cute one of me and my girls before I wore it to church! P.S. Don’t go for the floor length, it’s bulky like a sack of taters!  A 2″ hem under the knee was perfect for me!


June 25, 2012. Fashion. 1 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.

Pin #3 The “initial” project

Some pins come across the page and even after you save it your “wish list” you can’t get it out of your head: you’ve got to try it, make it or eat it ASAP!  This was one of those pins for me!  I was crazy disappointed when Hobby Lobby didn’t carry an oval frame in the size I needed, but I honestly didn’t want to spend more than $20 on this project in the first place.  So, I used a garage sale find from last weekend and my sweet skills as a former furniture painter/distresser (another random job I had in college) to make this project come in at less than $4.  It was an ironic journey to take an old picture frame that was scratched and faded, paint it like new, and then sand it down and wax it to look old again!  I still wish I had found a cheap oval frame, but I think my final outcome really spruces up my mantle.  I finally got to get rid of the random items I had above the fireplace – things I had put up there 5 years ago just to fill in space and have been driving me crazy ever since!  This week I am so thankful for pinterest because it has inspired me to make something that refreshes the style of one area of my home without forcing me to get out of my “too cheap to ever buy anything new” box!



June 13, 2012. Interior Design, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Pin #2: Frozen S’mores!

The Memorial Day weekend festivities were held at my homestead this year, and I wanted a special treat for the kiddos.  We don’t have a handy firepit- but I have been craving s’mores for weeks!  And when I come to think of it, I love the flavor of s’mores but I’m not a huge fan of the texture combinations: crunchy cracker, gooey ‘mallow and “not ever quite melted enough” chocolate. So, I found this recipe for a frozen s’more treat that has all of the tastes,  more consistent texture and is perfect for a hot summer cookout!

May 30, 2012. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Pin #1: Envelope Pillow Covers

I have had the same cheap, ugly Big Lots couches since I first moved out on my own 7 years ago.  The Hubs and I are currently too cheap to buy new ones, and frankly they are constantly having milk, food and juice spilled on them.  So, why buy new ones?  However, they seriously need an update because my living room is looking a ‘lil drab!  I found this great tutorial on how to easily re-cover pillows- and voila!!!  This awesome fabric also ties in more BLUE into my living room…… which is exactly what I need in order to complete some of my next few pins!!!



May 24, 2012. Interior Design. 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.

The Wonderful World of Laundry!

      Today was a lesson that could possibly be deemed, “Home Ec-y”.  My Fashion Design classes are smack in the middle of their Textiles unit, and today we learned about clothing care.  I didn’t go too old school and discuss how to do laundry, (however I will be doing that after Spring Break with my “Life After High School” class) but we are discussing……… CLOTHING CARE LABELS!  You know, those weird pictures on your clothing tag underneath the care instructions.  Supposedly, the coming years will see a complete change in our care tags and we will be switching from words to symbols.  At least we better be, because that’s what I told them was the point of the lesson!  The purpose?  Clothing can be sent all over the world with ONE tag representing care in symbols that can be read in any language!

                In case you didn’t know this, here is a little lesson on how to read these puppies!

1. Know the COMMON symbols that are the base for every instruction:

2. Understand the different CARE symbols that can be placed with these in order to read the SPECIFIC instruction:

If there is a BAR _______ under the symbol: Permanent Press

2 Bars? = Gentle Cycle (I had a good graphic for this, but it wouldn’t upload!)

How can you remember what these dots and lines mean?  I tell my students to think of volume, the higher the volume (heat), the more dots.  The more bars under the symbol are like more mattresses, so it is softer (gentle).  My brain just works that way and they seem to think it’s funny!


 Finally, here are the random symbols that always make the students laugh, and for some reason yell at me since they don’t see the relation between the symbol and the meaning!

Can you guess the last one?    HANG TO DRY! 

Happy Launder-ing? (or something like that)!

March 15, 2012. Tags: . Uncategorized. 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.

Project: Recycle Your Old Clothes!

Fashion Design II is a class I teach within my regular Fashion Design course.  Previous students sign up for the course again, and make more challenging patterns and learn new skills.  I LOVE my “Fashion 2 Girls”!  They are the best and brightest from past years and have grown so much in their skills and love for do-it-yourself fashion.

This semester, I have challenged them to Recycle an old garment into something new & fresh.  They have some wonderful ideas so far, and are still in the process of sketching and pattern making.  My girls also have a weekly blog where they post their reflections on their project- and for this project will eventually post directions to their recycled style.   For my blog today, I would like to share with you one of their blogs about the stage of the process they are in.  When they are all finished and posted I will make sure to add a link for everyone to enjoy how talented they are!

Fashion II Student Blog

February 8, 2012. Tags: . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Soup It Up!

The basement of Central High School has been smelling very yummy this week, ‘cuz it’s Soup Week in Culinary Arts!  Delicious smells of bacon, simmering tomatoes and stocks are wafting all over the builiding- and we have had several requests for recipes!  Students have been learning about herbs/spices, the Mother Sauces and Types & Foundations of Soup.  I cannot take credit for any of these recipes (most come courtesy of Food Network stars), but they are the perfect treat on a cold winter night!  ENJOY!

Cheddar Corn Chowder

Sweet Potato Chowder (Spicy!)


3 Bean Chili

Tomato Bisque






Three Bean and Beef Chili


10 cups (serves 8, serving size 1 1/4 cup)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
  • 2 carrots, diced (1/2 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 pound extra-lean ground beef (90 percent lean)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce from the can of chipotles
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed


Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and carrots, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ground beef; raise the heat to high and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the tomatoes, water, chipotle and adobo sauce, oregano and salt and pepper. Cook, partially covered, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes. Stir in the beans and continue cooking, partially covered, 20 minutes longer. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.


Super Quick Minestrone


8 to 10 servings


  • 1 cup (4 ounces) tubetti pasta, or other small pasta shape
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, cut into 3 pieces
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, each cut in 1/2 lengthwise
  • 2 cups finely chopped yellow onions (2 small onions)
  • 1 cup small-diced celery (2 medium stalks)
  • 1 cup small-diced carrots (2 to 3 medium carrots)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary or thyme leaves
  • 1 (14-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups small-diced zucchini (green/yellow) (5 small zucchini)
  • 2 cups small-diced, peeled russet potatoes (1 large russet)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and transfer the pasta to a baking sheet. Toss the pasta with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the chicken stock.

In another large saucepan over high heat, heat 1/4 cup oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the pancetta and cook until it begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes, turning occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown, about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to medium and add the onions, celery, and carrots.

Cook until the vegetables are soft, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent browning. Add the chopped herbs. Raise the heat to high. Add the beans, tomatoes, zucchini, and potatoes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Then bring it down to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes, skimming any foam off the top of the soup. Season generously with pepper. Add salt, to taste. Just a few minutes before serving, add the cooked tubetti pasta. Serve warm with Parmesan and olive oil passed at the table.

Cooking notes: Add the cooked pasta just before serving. If it sits in the soup too long, it develops a flabby texture. Tubetti (little hollow tubes) are the classic pasta for minestrone, but you could substitute another small shape of pasta.

Cheddar Corn Chowder


10 to 12 servings


  • 8 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)
  • 10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated


In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.



Tomato Bisque


4 to 6 appetizer servings (abo


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced bacon (about 1/2 ounce)
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes (with liquid), roughly chopped
  • 3 parsley sprigs
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until crisp and most of the fat has rendered, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Lower the heat to medium, add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Pour in the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil while whisking constantly. Tie the parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay leaf together with a piece of kitchen twine and add to the pot. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

When the soup base is cool, remove and discard the herb bundle. Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Using a sieve over a large bowl, strain the tomato puree. Return the puree to the pot and reheat over medium heat.

Whisk the heavy cream and salt into the soup and season with pepper to taste. Divide among warm soup bowls and serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Chowder


4 servings


  • 1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 medium sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium sweet green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 3 canned chipotle chiles, minced
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans corn
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Monterey Jack Quesadillas, recipe follows
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish


Cook the bacon in a large stockpot over medium heat until it begins to crisp. Spoon off the bacon fat, except for a thin coating. Add the peppers and onion to the bacon and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender.

Add the sweet potatoes, chicken broth, and chipotles and simmer, covered, 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the corn, milk, and salt; heat through. Serve with quesadillas and garnish with cilantro.



4 servings


  • 1 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • Tomato juice
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonade


Fill a 6-quart pot halfway full of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil.

Make an X with a paring knife on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and transfer to an ice bath and allow to cool until able to handle, approximately 1 minute. Remove and pat dry. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes. When seeding the tomatoes, place the seeds and pulp into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl in order to catch the juice. Press as much of the juice through as possible and then add enough bottled tomato juice to bring the total to 1 cup.

Place the tomatoes and juice into a large mixing bowl. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, garlic clove, olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to a blender and puree for 15 to 20 seconds on high speed. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Cover and chill for 2 hours and up to overnight. Serve with chiffonade of basil.


January 11, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Recipes. 1 comment.

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