November 8, 2011

Munchkin Shoot

So a friend of mine came over with her munchkin and we got to march around the backyard taking some pictures!  It's been my first "fall shoot" this year and my first "baby shoot" since high school. I must say, I've learned quite a bit since then!  Fortunately MY little munchkin didn't cause me much trouble while I was movin around... then again, HER Munchkin only moves so fast so far!



November 2, 2011

I need a nap. Instead I'm making Pumpkin Muffins.

(P.S. that's a Straight-Out-Of-Camera shot :-P)

Hubby requested Pumpkin Muffins. I do *heart* my pumpkin muffins, with a recipe given to me by my high school crush's mom (at least SHE liked me! lol). I decided since I'm doing all sorts of freezer-ish-stuff, I'd make a BIG batch, and freeze most of them so we can nibble on them to our hearts delight as I get less and less mobile. So I wrote up the "big batch" recipe (aka, using a WHOLE CAN of pumpkin mash, instead of 1/3 of it), went to take a sip of water from my glass... and well... I need a nap.

First: Pumpkin Muffins though, yes? Feel free to join me in one, or both of these efforts.

First, we get all our ingredients out, to make sure we actually HAVE them all. It was a close call for this chica on the Nutmeg - EXACTLY 1 1/2 tsps left in the jar (this must be because I went grocery shopping today). And yes, I use my stove as more counter space when cooking - that's what the flat-top is for, right?!?

Then, we set our oven to preheat to 350*, because if we don't do it now, we'll forget and have to wait longer later.

Now... we measure out our dry ingredients and mix them all together nicely!

Ready to get movin here... cream your margarine. For this "big batch" of 36 muffins, you'll use 2 sticks and 2 tbsp... get it all mushy and light and fluffy, and then slowly add in your brown sugar.

I did this by adding 1/2 a cup at a time. Once all your sugar is in, and it looks all yummy deliciousness, add the pumpkin and eggs. It will then turn gross looking. Like this:
But have no fear, we're adding in the flour mix alternately with the milk, and it'll end up all satiny smooth... just wait. Now... this is the hard part. Add flour mix first, then milk, then flour, then milk, slowly and letting it combine fully before adding more goodies making sure you add flour FIRST AND LAST. Ok, tricks over... now it looks all smooth and delicious again.
Spoon it into muffin tins (with papers) 3/4 full, pop in the oven, and 20 minutes later... DELICIOUSNESS.

And there's NO REASON not to pop one out of the pan IMMEDIATELY and eat it piping hot. In fact, do it. THEN take your nap ;)

BIG BATCH RECIPE (Because you'll want it. And so will your neighbors. And family. And dog.)
Makes 3 dozen muffins
Takes 20 minutes at 350*
Prep-Time, maybe 30 minutes?

4 1/2 cups flour
5 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/8 tsp cloves

18 Tbsp Margarine (2 sticks + 2 tbsp)
2 cups Brown Sugar, packed lightly
3 eggs
1 15oz can mashed pumpkin

1 1/2 cups milk

1) Combine first 7 ingredients (dry ingredients sans sugar) in a large bowl
2) Cream margarine
3) Slowly add brown sugar until light and fluffy
4) Add pumpkin and eggs and mix well
5) Add flour mixture alternately with milk slowly, mixing well between additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
6) Fill muffin cups 3/4 full
7) Bake in 350* oven for 20 minutes.
8) EAT!!!!
9) Share with neighbors, or freeze extra muffins for defrosting and enjoyment later. **never froze these before, so this is an experiment for me, but seeing as how I've polished off 3 muffins in the writing of this post, that might be why**

I packaged these in 12 muffin batches in freezer ziplock bags, placed 2 carefully in our big freezer... and am happy to announce that when removed and left on the counter, they defrost marvelously!  So go ahead and freeze them up, knowing it will be LIKE you had fresh-baked muffins after you've finished the first dozen off!


November 1, 2011

Showcase Day!

So I haven't taken any fab pictures lately (and I should, cause the leaves are beautiful around here right now!) but my friend Jes took some SUNDAY. Of ME! :-P So I figured I'd showcase a little bit of her talent here for you (and her!).

Enjoy my preggers-ness and her photography skills!

As a reminder, these photos are copyrighted to JMH Photography and should not be shared or copied without express permission from the artist. If you'd like more information about Jes, e-mail me!


October 17, 2011

To spoil you all...

OK, you aren't really getting spoiled except in that you'll be disappointed tomorrow when there's no post ;) (maybe... I'm totally on a "blog when I feel like it" streak - this, for example, was not a planned post)

I realized that with my maternity fashions impromptu series (no, I haven't made the last dress or the "hybrid pants" yet...) I haven't updated on all the other goodies I HAVE completed.

For example... the crib is done. I didn't get a 2nd coat of paint on it like I'd hoped, but the fumes got to be too much, and it looked good and so we're finished with it. It looks PRETTY MUCH the same as when I got it instead of a darker shade (oh well... maybe next time), but it's "freshly sealed" and DONE. And built. And in the nursery :-D

The furniture isn't being touched. Baby will not care, and at the moment... mommy doesn't either. So it's now full of freshly washed baby clothes and toys and other baby goodies. Maybe I'll get around to nagging hubby to fix two drawers. We have all the supplies... it'll just take 5 minutes to pull the broken drawer stays off and put new ones on.

The bumper front has been finished!! Due to an illness in the family of the friend that's helping me with the inside, the embroidery isn't (feel free to say a prayer for her and her family in the mean time), but THE BUMPER FRONT IS FINISHED! And it's adorable and I <3 it.

The quilt is done except for a bunch of hand-stitching-on of leaves and the detail embroidery to match the bumper, which my over-fluid-filled-hands are not happy about, so we'll see what happens there.

My port-a-crib sheet I was so anxious and eager to finish is DONE and I'm excited that I can TOTALLY make another from the flannel I have left over! I also got another yard and a half for a third sheet. If I'm feeling adventurous, you might get my "how to" but if I'm lazy... this is the link to the how-to I used (with new dimensions and math and such for my crib pad): (except... instead of making casing for the elastic... I just zig-zagged it to the edge of the sheet as tightly as I could. MAYBE I'll try this "casing" thing next time... we'll see. I probably should... it'll hold up much better I imagine.)

The cute "leftover fabric" burp cloths haven't been started yet, but I did get a bunch of pre-fold diapers, so that's been sent to the VERY BOTTOM of the priority list 0:-P

Hubby's scarf was completed, and even BLOCKED!! Except I gave it to him before taking a photo and I haven't seen it since, so you'll just have to believe me when I say it's "just what he wanted" and that it must be at work (and took exactly one skein of yarn).

And the Thank You Cards were made!! (Before I hand-sewed the quilt obviously, but it shouldn't look different post-sewing, so it's good enough)

Yay!! I am no longer neurotic about getting anything else completed, because all the "majorly important projects" that I NEEDED to have finished... are done (or I've just succumbed to the fact that they didn't NEED to be finished). Not to say I still don't have a laundry list of "to-do's"... I'm just not being neurotic about completing them 0:-P

Off to play some more and make some napkins for a friend :-P


October 15, 2011

Sometimes, I'm a GENIUS!! - Boppy Cover Tutorial

So tonight (which isn't really tonight, because I've got like, 2 weeks of "how-to's" that will post before this, but work with me) I put together a Boppy cover, and I feel SUPER SMART in how I did it. I know it's not new (in fact, I remember searching for, and finding explanations of how to do this on the internets a while ago, but the links are apparently "evil" so I won't put them here - I probably got some kind of virus visiting it, but whatever) but what I DO think I figured out on my own... was that a standard towel is the PERFECT size (and I'd imagine material!) to make a Boppy cover out of!

A new baby girl entered our family (no, not my baby girl... another one) and I wanted to make her mommy a boppy cover. But I kinda ran out of time to get nice fabric... so I looked at the store and was like "meh. I don't LIKE these :-/. I wanted to MAKE her one!!" and then, the genius button got hit - what if I made it out of a towel?

So I marched myself over to the towel section, picked up a regular pink towel, and marched myself out of the store. I then turned my original Boppy cover inside out, and folded it in half, and traced it onto a piece of freezer paper - my favorite method of pattern making.

I had already decided to use overlapping flaps to keep it "on" instead of a zipper or Velcro or buttons or whatever other methods are out there to keep a Boppy on it's pillow, and that's where I felt so genius - I could use the ends of the towels as the flap bits! (Oh, and the towel is absorbent, so you don't have to worry about the spit-up that will inevitably end up on this nursing pillow.

So I traced  out the portions I needed for the "back" onto the edges of a folded towel, and a "whole piece" out of the middle, as well as a 26"x3" strip for the inside of the pillow, and then cut them out.

Now, since it's terry, I felt like it was a good idea to "overlock" the edges - so all the edges got a zig-zag stitch overhanging the edge. It made a lot of terry dust, which leads me to believe that was a smart move.

Once you've got your pieces cut and "serged", take your strip and pin it to the "front" piece, and sew it in place. Then pin it to the bottom back piece, and sew it in place - make sure "right sides are together" for this, because even though it's a towel, there's a tag on there SOMEWHERE.

Here's where I made a boo-boo, but that means you won't. Lay the top back piece down and make sure the edge of the towel is straight across the front. Then lay the bottom back piece down (all right-sides together) so that it LOOKS like a Boppy cover, and pin ALL THE WAY AROUND.

Sew that sucker up from edge to edge, folding the strip in half to start - you'll hit 3 layers of terry where the overlap is, but my machine didn't complain too much, and I definitely wasn't taking it slow. I DID lock stitches over the joints of the pocket... just for extra protection.

Ta-da! Turn that sucker inside out, slide your Boppy in, and pull the top piece over and you're done!

The making of the pattern (which I will hopefully add to this post someday), "serging", "oops"ing of the layout involving seam rippers, AND taking all the photos took me about an hour and a half. I was NOT careful in the serging process... my machine was a humming, but it came out nice! I could have sewn with slightly larger seam allowances, but I was being "safe" there. The pattern allowed for 1/2" seam allowances, and I was just shy, but it fits, and it's good enough for government work! ;)

So go ahead and make a Boppy cover out of an old towel, or a cheap towel, or a fancy towel, or just some fabric. It's much easier than it looks!


October 14, 2011

Maternity Fashion: Shirred Waist Tank Dress

This was my "really hopeful" dress, that didn't turn out well enough for me to really wear in public, but knowing what I learned from it, it might be useful for some adventurous soul out there!! For now, it's the last of the Maternity Fashion series (I can't believe I've got nearly 2 weeks of posts here!!) although there is one more dress I keep MEANING to try... so maybe I'll get to making it, photographing myself in it, and actually posting it before I'm not pregnant anymore! There's also the "hybrid pant" I should probably make myself too...

Anyway... this was a test run for a maxi-dress that never really happened. It started as a major experiment (that failed too miserably to share) and turned into a fabulous dress to beat around the house with and was SUPER cool this summer!!

Things to note that would have made this a success:
1) No matter how many rows of shirring you use... your fabric will only shrink by half.
2) Make the finished shirred measurement slightly SMALLER than you are around so it fits snugly where you want it to.

This top is almost the same as the top I used for the cowl-neck dress, except that it isn't cowled! It has a high neck in the back, and a scooped neck in the front, with 2 layers of knit for each, sewn together at the neck and arm-holes and turned inside out for finished neck and arm edges (use a stretch stitch for those). To form the shoulders, I turned the back inside out, and pulled the front through until the raw edges met, then sewed straight across with a straight stitch. then I pulled the back right-side-out again, lined up "right sides together" and straight-stitched the side seams of the bodice. You can use a well-fitting tee for the pattern if you have one.

For the skirt, I SHOULD have measured my rib-cage measurement (or the bodice measurement) and multiplied by 1.75, and then made a giant rectangle that width and the length I wanted the skirt (plus an inch for a finished edge, which I do like on this dress) and THEN shirred it. There are plenty of tutorials on-line for shirring fabric, but the basic run-down, is to hand-wind a bobbin with elastic thread, and sew straight lines across your fabric in a few rows (at least 4). When you're done shirring the skirt top, turn the bodice inside out, insert the skirt so all the raw edges are together, and using a stretch stitch, attach them.  It's a good idea here to "overlock" (with a serger, a stitch and cut foot, or just a zig-zag over the edge) that seam so that it lies nicely after washing ;).

Then hem the bottom! You can use a stretch stitch, a double needle, or just straight stitch it, since it's a wide-based skirt.

You can PROBABLY make this dress in cotton vs. a knit too! To make it so you can pull it over your head, add an extra 3"? to the back panel, and before sewing it to the skirt, shirr 6" in rows down the middle - you'll get a shirred detail on the back, and give yourself some "give" room to pull it over your shoulders!

This type of dress can be made for little ones too - and if you want a better pattern, find a tank made of about the same material as you plan on working with and use it to build a bodice!


October 13, 2011

Maternity Fashion: Cowl Neck Maxi Dress

I had a wedding to go to at 14 weeks pregnant. I had no idea how big I was going to be, and seeing as I popped at 12 weeks, I was concerned I might balloon!!  So I made this dress, which fit VERY differently at 14 weeks than it does at nearly 33 weeks! BUT, it does prove that this dress will take me all the way to the end of my pregnancy!

The best part? I've gotten multiple complements on it, my bra doesn't show AT ALL, and it was "fancy" enough to go to a wedding in!  I'm not normally a fan of "cowl necks" but making this one myself, and in the manner that I did it, I like this one. This is a "crud, I need to look presentable and FAST" dress... throw it on, and go!  Hopefully I'll be able to explain the process a little. There was MUCH experimentation in making the top here, and no photos taken 20 weeks ago, so we'll see!

I started with a regular tank. High neck in the back (x2 pieces) and a low neck in the front. The cowl is actually a large trapezoid.I determined the width of the top of the trapezoid by holding the fabric up to my shoulders to form the "drape" I wanted and added 3" to each side for the shoulder straps and seam allowances. The bottom of the trapezoid was matched to the width of the front tank piece so they would align correctly. The height was the distance from my ribcage to the top of my shoulder, which was 13" (I think).

Now, the trick for me being happy with the cowl, was to sew the raw edge of the top of the cowl, to the neckline of the front portion of the tank. That means that the raw edges of the fabric are tucked inside, and can't "pop out" and turn your cowl inside out, OR show more cleavage than intended. The shoulders were... finessed into being, involving a weird kind of fold. I should have taken pictures, and I'm not sure I'd be able to repeat the process!!

Needless to say, once I got the bodice the way I liked it, I attached it to an overly full skirt. Two pieces of fabric, the width of the bolt were sewn into a tube and gathered with a basting stitch to match the "around" of the bodice. With right sides facing together, a wide seam allowance was sewn, and then a narrow one to make a casing for elastic. I had to make this elastic MUCH shorter than anticipated, due to the weight of the skirt! (I was actually worried about the skirt being about 3" too short, but the weight of the fabric just HANGING grew it to just at my ankle! Such a happy accident!  As with most of my knit projects, the bottom of the skirt is unfinished, but it's OK, because knit is wonderful!

I do apologize for this being a very poor "how to" but take confidence in the fact that it was made out of a VERY flowy knit, and with all the folds and gathering bits, I was able to make it without ANY pre-made pattern!  I am by NO MEANS a seamstress - the only sewing instruction I've ever received was from my mom at age 7, a little tip here and there from Grandma... and 7th grade home-ec!  It might look a little "homemade" but it's still totally acceptable for public wear! It's been a church staple since that wedding, and I've even gotten compliments on it!

Don't be afraid of knit - just remember to use a stretch stitch where it needs to stretch!