Break and Sneak Peek

My precious nephew Ty is in a children’s hospital right now. He’d been having fevers, and when his temp spiked to over 106 he started having seizures. Long story short, he is in the hospital and they’re still trying to figure out what’s going on. He does seem to be doing better overall, but it’s still going to take time. Any prayers for him, my sister and brother-in-law, and Ty’s twin brother, Micah, would be greatly appreciated. Deborah and Ian are so stressed out and worried about Ty and missing Micah very badly 😦 Please pray that little Ty will recover very soon and that they will all be reunited 🙂

That being said, I’ve been devoting much of my attention to keeping people updated on what’s going on, so I am doing zero crafting or blogging… well, with this exception 🙂 So a temporary break is in order. I hope that by the end of the week things will normalize!

But last week I had a LOT going on, craftwise. I’ve put together a few tutorials for hoodies, worked on lots of dolls, reworked my training pants… Here are a few things you have to look forward to:

hoodie 1

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bib 1

Dolly Donations

I stumbled across a cool opportunity to touch young lives through crafting! Dolly Donations collects handmade dolls for children who have nearly nothing. Here’s a brief mission statement from Sarah, the founder:

“My mission is to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate, especially orphaned children around the world ……. to provide them with a source of comfort …… to send them love, one dolly at a time!”

I love this idea. There are so many ways that children need help, and I have dolls who need homes! I can’t wait to participate (I just missed a drive that closed 3 days ago, but they hope to do another before Christmas) and I’m hoping to encourage others to join in! You don’t have to be great at sewing and Sarah provides free patterns and tutorials. (Make sure to read the FAQ section and the Mission Statement. They definitely accept dolls that are different from the provided pattern, but they request that you send multiples so that doll doesn’t seem like the “special” doll. Also, the request dolls and not animals or monsters etc because studies have shown that children respond better to dolls, providing comfort to the child.)

The free pattern is designed to use up scrap fabric, so that’s perfect for you stash busters out there!!

Training Pants Prototype & Tutorial

I’ve had a hard time finding training pants for Dexter, and because I like to make things, I decided to give training pants a try :). I browsed a little for tutorials before deciding to just do my own thing.

I will preface this by saying they didn’t fit very well, so I’m going to make some changes. However, I think this tutorial will be a good one when I work out the kinks. I deliberately chose a knit fabric that had very little stretch… I was worried they’d become floppy. It turned out to be a mistake because I had to work really hard to get the pants over his chubby legs and booty. Next I’m going to try a knit with more stretch, and make the cuts a little roomier. Since the center panel is non-stretch I now know they do have to be cut bigger.

Onward!

Supplies

Undies to use as a template (until I upload a pattern) {UPDATE: Amber at Mom Road has created a printable pattern using this tutorial! There are a few modifications with her pattern, including a PUL layer!}

Prefold diapers

Knit fabric (I used an old t-shirt)

Cutting

Step 1: Choose undies to use as a template. (After I perfect my pattern I will upload something printable in case you have no undies to work from) I used 2T-3T undies.IMG_6056

Step 2: Lay undies on folded diaper, centering undies on the thickest part. Cut diaper so that when folded it’s as tall as the undies. I chose the width by cutting about a half an inch past the thick part of the diaper. (BTW how CUTE are those undies???)IMG_6063

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Step 3: Put the folded and cut diaper inside the undies to determine leg-hole cuts. Mark about a half an inch from the leg-hole for seam allowance. Do this for the front and the back.IMG_6070

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Step 4: Make leg-hole cuts. One of mine looks a little sloppy, just focus on how pretty the one on the right is 🙂IMG_6074

Step 5: Make the stretchy side panels. Fold knit fabric vertically. Lay undies on top with the side against the fold. Lay diaper on top of undies, letting the edge overlap the the edge of the knit fabric. This takes care of your seam allowance. (Does that make sense? If this step is horribly confusing and/or the picture doesn’t make sense, leave a comment and I’ll try to do better!!) Cut 2 of those.IMG_6076

Step 6: Make the waistband. Fold vertically, line one size of your undies up with the fold. Cut the waist band about 3-4 inches wide to allow for folding over and the seam allowance. (I think I prefer a wider waist band, and next time I will cut closer to 4 inches.)IMG_6078

Step 7: Create the leg bands. I forgot to take a picture for this step. but basically I flattened the leg-hole of the undies to get the length of my strip. I cut to a width of about 2 inches.

Here are all my cut pieces to give you a reference for how big each one is and where they they should go:IMG_6080

Sewing

Step 1: Sew side panels to the back of the diaper, right sides together so that the seam will be on the inside (unless you want the seam on the outside. I considered that, it might be more comfy for your toddler). Line the top of the diaper up with the top of the panel, leaving the extra fabric at the leg-holes. We’ll trim that later. I also used a straight stitch for this step.IMG_6081

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Step 2: Sew side panels to the front of the diaper (also right sides together, seam on the inside).IMG_6086

Step 3: Trim excess fabric to shape the leg-holes.IMG_6089

Step 4: Sew ends of the waistband together to create a loop, seam on the inside.IMG_6091

Step 5: Fold the waistband in half, wrong sides together.IMG_6094

Step 6: Turn your pants right side out. Pin your waistband to the outside of the pants with all raw edges together. I also made sure I pinned the seam of the band to the back of the pants, because it would have made me crazy if I didn’t 🙂 IMG_6095

Step 7: Sew on waistband. IMPORTANT: USE A ZIGZAG STITCH!! If you use a straight stitch for this step the threads will pop when stretched… boo, we no likey.

Step 8: This is actually a lot of steps combined. Follow steps 4-7 for each leg-hole. Don’t forget to use your zigzag stitch!!!!

And now you have a pair of training pants!IMG_6099

They look a little funny here with all the threads and stretched-outedness. In theory, you’d clip the threads and be done. But in reality, I tried them on Dexter and they just didn’t fit. Sure, I managed to get them on him, but, as I said before, there was just not enough stretch. But they sure are cute!!!IMG_6117

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Recipe: Lemon Raspberry Bars With Cream Cheese Filling

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This is what happens when you see someone else is having lemon raspberry cake (thanks Kaedra!!) but you don’t usually like cake AND you don’t have a recipe for anything lemon-raspberry-y.

Using a basic cookies-from-cake-mix recipe, I came up with this delicious monstrosity:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350.IMG_6033

Step 2: Soften 1/2 stick butter.

Step 3: Start telling your husband a story and accidentally melt the butter entirely.IMG_6010

Step 4: Add an egg.IMG_6013 

Step 5: Add dry lemon cake mix. Use organic, so your dessert will be inherently better.IMG_6005

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Step 6: Stir until you realize there is absolutely not enough liquid to moisten the dry cake mix.IMG_6016

Step 7: Soften another 1/2 stick of butter. Correctly this time. Feel pride.IMG_6018

Step 8: Decide there is STILL not enough liquid and add 1 Tbsp milk at a time until it seems right. This takes 2 Tbsp milk.IMG_6020

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Step 9: Fold in 6oz of beautiful raspberries.IMG_6024

Step 10: Decide to pulverize the raspberries instead of gently folding them into the batter. IMG_6028

Step 11: Find a clean  pan. If you don’t have one, wash only one pan. You wouldn’t want to do any extra work. Dollop batter onto the pan in heaping spoonfuls. If you have extra batter, just put it into any other cooking apparatus and be done with it. IMG_6032

Step 12: Bake for 9-12 min. IMG_6034

Step 13: In the meantime, prepare filling/icing. Combine 8 oz spreadable cream cheese, 1/4 c powdered sugar, and about 1/3 tub of leftover store-bought butter cream icing.*

*Not all butter cream icing has streaks of green in it, but you can achieve this at home by sticking a knife with already tinted icing into your nice clean icing. Just throw the rest of that tainted icing back into your cabinets and save it for a rainy day.IMG_6037

Step 14: Blend filling/icing ingredients until smooth.IMG_6041

Step 15: Note a burning smell. Confirm that your haphazardly dolloped batter is now spilling over the sides of the pan and landing on the heating element of the stove. Yum! You’re almost done!IMG_6044

Step 16: Realize that during baking, your batter became a cookie conglomerate.IMG_6045

Step 17: Decide to make a cookie-bar casserole. Chill filling/icing while cookie mass cools, then stack cookie-filling-cookie into a casserole dish.IMG_6049

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Now, despite how horrendous this thing looks, and all the trouble I had while constructing it, it tastes really really good. Especially that filling. It taste almost like cheesecake. I will use it in the future with other desserts. Also, if I ever make this again, I am just pouring the batter into a casserole dish, baking it as cookie bars, then icing it after it cools. But you learn as you go 🙂

Progress Report: Pink/Blue Owl Quilt

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I’m both excited and frustrated… I’m extremely happy because I completed all 12 of my squares!!! But I ran across lots of problems. Namely that I apparently cut my sashing strips too short, boo, and I can’t find my scrap material to add to the strips, extra boo. And by the end, I was having a lot of sewing trouble and I’m going to have to rip some seams. A break was called for.

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I am LOVING the way it’s looking with the sashing. I can’t wait til I work out the kinks. I added a little plain chocolate brown to the length , hopefully it won’t be too distracting. I’ll have to do this on every wide strip and at the end of all the border pieces.

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It’s really coming together! The tree on the back will be the next challenge 🙂

Sneak Peek: Hair Bands

I am SO excited about our new hair bands! Deborah and I are both starting to wish we had a little girl to put them on. Our husbands were NOT happy when we tried them on our boys to see how they fit lol.

Here’s a sneak peek at what we have so far:IMG_5789 

I love them all so far, but here are close ups on a few of my favorites: IMG_5791  IMG_5792

These will be sewn onto head bands (and maybe clips if we can find some that are CPSIA certified). Next week we’ll be photographing what we have and hopefully we will have our shop up and running by this coming Friday. We’re both so excited!!! Our accessories will make perfect gifts for Christmas!

If you haven’t seen the ties Deborah is making (which are awesome), then head over to her blog!

Dexter’s First Cooking Experience

We tried the Polenta Pizza Stackers by Cooking With My Kid. They were really yummy comfort food (think pizza grits, but better). If you’re interested, make sure you head over there for the recipe!!

I decided to brave it and let Dex help! He stood on a chair (I made certain he was supported on all sides) and helped me spread Smart Balance onto a pan. He really liked playing in that 🙂 It was awesome seeing his little finger marks all over the pan 🙂

Then I let him help me use a butter knife to slice the polenta. He thought that was the best. He chuckled the whole time 🙂 And he also broke a lot of the slices and ate them lol. Ours were way uglier than CWMK’s 🙂 We need to work on our slicing skills.

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Thankfully our oven stays cool on the outside, because Dexter felt the need to monitor their progress.

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See? Ours were all jagged from bad cutting and a chubby little snacker.

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Dex was able to help me put a tomato sauce on two of them before he decided the most important thing he could contribute was thumb-sucking. Can you guess which two were his?

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He also “helped” with the cheese by eating a chubby handful while I sprinkled.

These things looked awesome after they cooked! And they smelled great. Dexter realized when they were baking that they were pizzas. He’s so smart 🙂

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Dexter gobbled these up!

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I give these a 4 overall. I will certainly make them again, they were easy, pretty yummy, and Dexter really enjoyed both making and eating them. Plus, I can feel good about serving them because they’re really healthy. But I think I will play around with cheese and sauce to find the perfect flavor combo!

Cooking With My Kid & Preschooler Meal Planning

I found an awesome website today (actually, I found several great sites…) and I’m so excited about it! It’s called Cooking With My Kid and the author has created tons of healthy kid-friendly recipes that she makes with her son. Now I can’t wait til Dex is able to help me out in the kitchen!

A few recipes I plan to try this week include:

Broccoli and Cheese Stromboli (This looks incredible)

Baked Spinach and Rice

Naan Pizza (Dex LOVES pizza! Any time he sees a pizza box or hears us carelessly use the word he starts shouting and crying for pizza. He says “pee”, but we know what he means lol. Plus, I really like the idea of single serving pizza for our lunch so we don’t have crazy amounts of greasy pizza taunting me for days.)

Warm Tortellini and Pesto Chicken Salad

Breadless BLT’s (Maple turkey bacon??? YUM!)

Polenta Pizza Stackers (I’m really excited to try pre-made polenta!)

And then I REALLY want to try the Peanut Butter Quesadillas. They include peanut butter, apple slices, and honey. But our pediatrician really wanted us to wait til Dex was 3 before introducing peanut butter. Maybe I can get away with it sometime by making a regular cheese quesadilla for him.

On a similar note, we’ve been nearly out of groceries for… hmm… a couple weeks? We’ve just been getting what we need as we need it and eating out way too much. It’s really difficult to take Dexter grocery shopping and Alex is too busy to do the shopping or to watch Dexter so I can go.

But after a few weeks of eating crap I’m going to bite the bullet and take Dex out tomorrow. It’s amazing what having a child does to your conscience. I can’t feel good about just feeding him whatever, so I’m going to do whatever I can to get good food for him.

Up until now, I’ve often eaten separately from Dex, giving him whatever mostly healthy thing I can scrounge up while I eat… well… whatever else I can scrounge up 🙂 But now I’m going to take on the mindset of preschool meal-planning. When I worked for daycares and preschools, the meals are set in advance and include all the healthy things kids need and the teachers eat the same thing. It will be healthy for both of us! Here is a link to some dietary guidelines for preschoolers, and a website for toddler meal plans I want to check out.

How do you ensure your child gets the nutrients they need? Do you model healthy eating, or do you find this to be very difficult? Any favorite (and super easy!) kid-friendly recipes?

Nursery Decor WIP And Bad Photography

Sometimes I have good photos on my blog. This is not one of those times. I need a different lens for what I wanted to do. And today was bad for natural light. AAAAAND I’m impatient and I want to do this blog RIGHT NOW. So you must suffer through ugly pictures.

Dexter’s nursery has never been very well decorated. It’s a blank slate with some furniture and toys thrown in. I’m working on making it more visually interesting.

Recently I found some flash cards in Target’s dollar bin. Dex LOVES them. So I decided to hang some over his changing table. I just sort of eyeballed it, and they look good, but they’re a little too low. He grabs them while I’m changing him, and that’s a battle I just don’t want to deal with.IMG_5664

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Before we moved, I made his name letters for over his crib. I’m really glad to have those up!IMG_5696

I made them by fabric letters onto contrasting fabric, then stretching them into round embroidery hoops. This creates an insta-frame, and I was able to hang them by just pushing a pin through the frame opening!

There are definitely areas of his room that need work, and unfortunately I was unable to capture the whole room (or even whole walls) to give an idea of what the space is really like. I would have loved getting feedback and advice!

I am on the hunt for an inexpensive but child-safe bookshelf, if anyone has any ideas. Currently I’m storing his board books on the window ledge, which looks ok, but isn’t ideal.IMG_5693

And then there is the unsightly vision of his toys in random baskets along the wall.IMG_5679

The color of the room is just the standard-issue taupe that came with our apartment. It’s not great, but I’m not offended by it, and since I don’t know how long we’ll live here, I’m not willing to paint it. But I hope to get a few pictures hung up on other walls, and maybe some fun stuff for him, like low mirror and a chalk board.

I’ll leave you with a cute but blurry picture of Dex taken just before my battery died 🙂IMG_5700