Love Story

Sunday, September 30, 2012

{No-Sew} Fabric Scrap Tutus

A few years ago I made a no-sew tulle tutu for my niece's 2nd birthday. It was so easy and I have been meaning to make more, especially now that I have a second niece to spoil! So when I saw the new trend of fabric scrap tutu's, I knew that I had to give those a try.

This was a super easy project and took no time at all. And what a great way to use up your scrap pile! Here is how my youngest niece's skirt turned out:
Hers is made up of 4 different fabrics and I cut a point on the ends of the orange flowered strips for some extra dimension

Want to see how I did it? Let me walk you through the steps I took on my older niece's skirt. To get started you want to measure the waist of the person you are making it for (I used my 4 year old to get a rough estimate) and then subtract 3 inches. This is how much elastic you want to cut. I believe I am using the 1 inch wide elastic here. Then you want to sew the two ends together to create a waistband. (Okay, I said no sew but this step is super easy so I don't think it counts:)

Then you want to find some coordinating fabrics and start cutting strips. My strips are between 1 and 2 inches wide and to determine length just measure from the waist to wherever you want the skirt to hit and then double. It doesn't hurt to go a little longer because you can always trim it down. You can also cut the different fabrics in various lengths for dimension. The number of strips you need is going to depend on how big your skirt is. For this skirt I used almost 50 strips (this isn't all of them, I had to add some at the end):

Now you are ready to assemble your skirt. Find a comfy seat {and if you are like me, some ridiculous Reality TV show to past the time} and slide the elastic band up over your thigh.

At this point you need to decide what order you want to add your fabric in. You can alternate colors in an ABCD pattern or clump them together in various ways - AABCCD or ABACAD, etc. This will depend on what you want your skirt to look like and how much of each fabric you have. You can also just wing it as you go and see what looks good. When this is decided, you can start adding the fabric to the waistband. This is done with a simple slipknot (I will label the directions with numbers that correspond with the following pictures for those of you who need a visual). Fold a strip of fabric in half so that the non-pattern sides are touching[1]. Slide the folded piece of fabric under the elastic[2]. Create a loop at the top of the fabric[3] and pull the ends through the loop[4]. Pull and adjust until it has created a tightened knot on the waistband[5].





Continue doing this until your entire waistband is covered and you have a full skirt.

You can see that I got through my first pile of fabric strips and had a gap so I had to find some more fabric to add to it. The nice thing is that you can slide the knots around so you aren't limited to adding to the gap, fill that fabric in wherever you want to:

I also added in a few ribbon strips and a bow and then I was done!

This is such a versatile pattern, you can feel free to add in ribbon or tulle as you go for accents or embellish with fabric flowers or bows. The possibilities are really endless! Wouldn't this be fun in team colors for a little fan? I think tights and boots would be darling with these skirts. Can't wait to see them on my already adorable nieces!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

More {non-cereal} breakfast ideas

We are continuing to enjoy the variety of food that is showing up on our breakfast table after deciding to cut back on our daily cereal habit. I am excited to continue to have fresh ideas to share with you as well!

The morning my kids woke up and saw popsicles on the breakfast menu, they thought they had won the lottery! I made these simple popsicles the night before using greek yogurt thinned out with a little bit of milk, honey, apple and banana chunks. We tried dipping in honey and rolling in granola before eating them but that didn't stick so well. They also had homemade bagels that I slit down the middle and stuffed with peanut butter.

My kids have always been crazy about pancakes and waffles and I had assumed that was mostly about the syrup. But come to find out that smothered in peanut butter and honey made waffles equally delicious and they were devoured just as fast as ever! (They requested the leftover popsicles to go with it:)

Sticking with the "waffle" theme, these waffle sandwiches are quick, easy and satisfying. I took two pieces of wheat bread and spread a thin layer of peanut butter on each side and then topped one side with thinly sliced bananas and a drizzle of syrup. Put it all together and put it in my waffle iron for a minute and it was done. You could do all kinds of tasty combinations here, use your imagination!

This bowl of yogurt was absolutely devoured by my 4 year old. Greek yogurt, honey, granola, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and apple chunks with a dash of cinnamon:

I had a motive beyond a good breakfast when I made this steel-cut oatmeal in the crock pot overnight. I was trying to get rid of an overpowering onion smell left behind from dinner so I added pureed sweet potatoes, cinnamon and nutmeg which created a wonderful fall smell in the morning, as well as a delicious breakfast! My kids liked it with a little milk and syrup:

The oatmeal created some leftovers so I used that to make pancakes for the next morning. I used 2 cups oatmeal, 1 cup (more as needed to thin it out) milk, 2 eggs, 3 Tbsp melted butter, 3/4 c flour, and 2 tsp baking powder. These are a little bit more delicate then regular pancakes so let them cook for several minutes on each side before flipping:

Keep watching for breakfast ideas...I am going to try to focus on more protein based recipes next time since these all seemed to fall in the carb camp. Feel free to share what you are feeding your family for breakfast, you may see your idea pop up in my next post!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lunch Round Up #2

Lunch round up number two brings you two more weeks worth of lunch ideas straight from my first graders lunch box. Hope you'll take some ideas away and share some of yours in return. Here's what we've been serving:
Black bean fritters, mashed potatoes, cheese crisps, banana and homemade quinoa granola bar

Apple half, celery sticks, waffle sandwich with peanut butter and honey, homemade trail mix with granola, sunflower seeds and white chocolate chips

bananas, celery, garbanzo bean and kale patties, roasted red potato wedges

homemade tortilla with peanut butter and honey, string cheese, carrots, pretzel rods

carrot and celery sticks, large marshmallow with white chocolate chips, zucchini bread, apple with peanut butter, pretzel and cheese dumbbells

butternut squash oatmeal cookie, celery, bagel pizza (homemade bagel, spaghetti sauce, pepperoni slices, cheese) , banana

white rice, carrots, homemade tortillas with crock pot refried beans

Shell pasta with meat sauce, string cheese, carrots, cheddar chive muffin
Want more ideas? Check out past round-ups:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Party in Heaven

I believe there is a birthday party going on in Heaven today. Oh how I wish I could attend. Just for one moment see your face, hold you tight, tell you how much I love you. Of course more than anything I would rather be having a party for you here. We could be excitedly phoning our friends and loved ones to tell them that you had finally arrived. Dozens of pictures being snapped as you take your first breath, meet your brothers for the first time, get passed around joyfully between people who are already full of love for you. Listen to your first cries...those beautiful baby cries that sound like nothing else on earth. Smell your head....oh that new baby smell is the best thing ever, especially when it is your new baby. Start to adjust to life as a family of 6.

Instead we can only imagine these things, mourn these things, just as we have done for several months now. For this was not the path laid out for you. For us. You had a different purpose in this life, one much bigger than the plans we made. It hurts. Hurt doesn't even begin to describe it. But we work each day to replace that hurt with hope. With understanding. With a realization that you are still here, if only in our hearts. We celebrate for you because you never have to know the pain of this world. You have gotten to strictly live a life of joy and peace with your Heavenly Father. How blessed are you! And one day, we will be together. The 6 of us as we should be. Until then, watch over us, will you?

And today - today you celebrate. Celebrate this day that will always be your birthday to me, even if we don't get to spend it with you here on Earth. Happy Birthday Baby. We love you forever and always.

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you." (Matthew 5:4 MSG)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Lunch Round Up #1

School is in full force and I thought it would be nice to share what I have been serving my kids for lunch. I know I can use all the help I can get with fresh ideas so I am hoping to not only inspire you, but also keep myself accountable so that I don't get into a school lunch rut.

This edition of lunch round up is going to be sandwich free. Not because sandwiches are bad, but because they are already in the arsenal. Easy, go to, overdone in our house for sure. So I wanted to share some kid friendly lunch box fillers that don't go between two pieces of bread. We are on day 8 of school and have yet to pack a sandwich! Yes, yes, we get excited about strange things around here.

Here are the lunches Nathan has been taking to school so far:
meat and cheese stackers, carrots, car shaped granola bar, apple slices topped with peanut butter, honey and granola
carrots, greek yogurt with apples and granola and honey, cheese slices, amish bread, black rice and hummus patty (Nathan swore that it was meat!)
Leftover cheese spaghetti, orange slices, carrots, trail mix with granola, sunflower seeds, cashews, hazelnuts and honey

Peanut Butter balls, banana, carrots, celery, mix of black and white rice
Orange slices, Angry Bird crackers, homemade granola bar, hot dog slices
Celery with peanut butter, carrot sticks, trail mix with granola, pepitas, sunflower seeds, coconut, cashews and honey drizzle, rice balls, banana

This is what the boys took when they had lunch at daddy's work recently:
variations depending on each kid but you see peanut butter bread, carrots, turkey, cheez balls (daddy's splurge!), kiwi, banana, cherry tomatoes, cashews and hazelnuts, and Ritz
Anything mini-sized is a hit with my kids. They can pick them up with their fingers and they feel like they get more Win-Win! So it was no surprise that these mini corn dog bites were devoured. I sliced up hot dogs and placed them in the bottom of an already sprayed mini-muffin pan. I then mixed up some cornbread batter (following the recipe on the back of the cornmeal bag) and put an overflowing Tbsp of the batter over each hot dog slice. Popped in the oven for 10-13 minutes and they were done. Extras froze up nicely and were available for future lunches.
There you have it! Hoping to do this every week or two throughout the year. Make sure to return the favor and share what is showing up in your kids school lunches, I need all the ideas I can get!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Vegetable Medley Soup - featuring acorn squash

Yesterday was vegetable pasta - Spaghetti Squash with an Acorn Squash Cream Sauce. But what did I do with the other half of that acorn squash? I know, I know, some of you lost sleep over this. So I will keep you waiting no longer.

I turned the other half into a Vegetable Medley Soup. A blend of a handful of veggies, diced tomatoes, homemade stock and some pureed acorn squash all came together to make a beautiful fall soup perfect for warming our bellies on these ever cooling days.
As usual, whenever I create as I go in the kitchen I rarely keep track of measurements because I eyeball it all the way. So this is a rough estimate. But it's soup so feel free to add and subtract based on your families likes and dislikes and what you have on hand. Trust me, it is hard to go wrong here!

I started by pureeing the other half of the roasted acorn squash. Mine was a little dry so I added in some Waste Not Vegetable Broth to get a nice smooth consistency.

Then I chopped up my veggies - 1/2 cup to 1 cup each of onion, celery, and carrots. Mushrooms are nice too if you have them.
These went into a pot that was already heating up with 1 to 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Saute these until they begin to soften. I still like a little crunch in my veggies {plus they soften as they continue to cook in the soup} so I don't go too long. Add in some seasoning - I did salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and garlic powder - and stir.
Last step is to add in a 30oz can of diced tomatoes {juice too}, your squash puree, and about 2 cups of broth. Vegetable broth is an obvious choice being that this is a veggie soup but I had some homemade chicken broth on hand I wanted to use up so I added that. Either works fine. Stir it up, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Dish up and enjoy!
I wanted to add that this was so delicious! I tried a bowl when it was ready and I had to practically fight my 2 year old off to make sure I got my share. My husband was impressed too and commented that the big chunks of mushroom really made it special. Thinking I may have to make another batch with some of the remaining acorn squash!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Veggie Pasta - Spaghetti Squash with an Acorn Squash Cream Sauce

Holy squash batman! Yesterday while at Winco I decided to pick up a spaghetti squash knowing that it would make a tasty pasta dish without the actual pasta. Little did I know that later in the day my husband's grandpa would bless us with an abundance of acorn squash as well. As I was browsing through squash recipes I saw an idea for a squash cream sauce and thought why not combine squash pasta with a squash sauce? Overkill...maybe, but I thought it was worth a shot. Let me walk you through what I did and how it turned out.

I started by roasting the acorn squash. Just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, place flesh side down on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes. While you are at it, roast those seeds! I just separate them from the stringy stuff, rinse and dry them off, toss with a bit of olive oil and salt and put on the same baking sheet as the squash. These will be done much quicker (check around 15 to 20 minutes) so you will want to pull them out and then keep the squash going. Mine went for about 25 and got a little dark but we don't mind them that way:

Once the squash is done roasting and cool enough to touch, scoop out the innards and place in the food processor along with 4 oz of softened cream cheese, 1 clove of garlic, 2 Tbsp of Parmesan, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Start whirling them all together while streaming in some milk. Start with 1/4 cup and keep adding until you get the consistency you desire. Less milk leaves a thicker sauce that actually would be great as a dip or work well on a heartier pasta. More milk will thin it out and make it more appropriate for something delicate like spaghetti squash. I made this earlier in the day so my evening would go smoother so I left it on the thicker side to start knowing I could add more milk as I reheated it later on. {Want to go lighter on the dairy and the calories? Sub vegetable stock for all or part of the milk}

When dinner time got closer I roasted the spaghetti squash much in the same way as the acorn squash. Included the seeds in this batch as well because the little people ate all of the ones from the first squash already!

Used a fork to shred the squash into "spaghetti" and topped with the rewarmed sauce that I thinned with a little more milk and some vegetable stock.

Verdict - It was okay. Why am I sharing it then? The sauce was really, really good. I just think I am not totally a fan of the two squashes together...probably overkill for me. But if you LOVE squash this may be for you. I would love to try this on regular pasta and mix in some sausage and mushroom to the finished product. Either way the sauce will definitely be made again. Hope you enjoy some variation of this! Want to know what I did with the other half of the acorn squash? Come back tomorrow and I'll share another recipe.

Friday, September 7, 2012

{Waste Not} Vegetable Broth

Two weeks ago I made my first homemade chicken broth. I am totally hooked! So when I read this post from Simply Frugal on making your own vegetable broth I knew I had to try it. I think that what I love most about this is that it is frugalness at it's best...not only do you save money by making your own broth versus buying it, but it doesn't cost you anything to begin with because it simply contains all the scraps from the vegetables you are already using! I am so smitten with any thing that lets us pinch that penny a little further {my husband works HARD for those pennies and the more I pinch them, the more I have him home to pinch as well} so I knew this would be right up my alley. Plus, anything homemade is just better.

Have I lost some of you already? Those of you who hear homemade stock and imagine slaving over a stove for hours and doing 20 different steps...have you tuned out? Don't! Trust me when I say this is easy. Don't believe me? I dare you to keep reading. Don't make me bust out the double dog dare!

First step: Save all of your veggie scraps. Really, anything goes just make sure it is clean and not rotting. Throw said scraps into a resealable bag and keep in freezer until full. Here is my first full bag from the last week or two - celery stalks, cucumber and mexican squash peels, onion and garlic skins, cauliflower bits, bok choy stems, pepper tops and some other random stuff.
Second step: Once you have a bag full of scraps you are ready to make your stock. Dump the bag in a stock pot and top with water (don't even have to bother defrosting!).
Third step: Put it on the stove, add black pepper and a bay leaf and put it on high until boiling. Then turn it down and let simmer for an hour {this is where all you busy folks walk away and get an hours worth of stuff marked off your to-do list}:

Fourth step: Let the broth cool down, strain out the veggies and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator or in the freezer. I am saving large yogurt containers for keeping this in my fridge. For freezer storage try putting the broth first in ice cube trays and then into a ziploc bag will allow you to grab the amount you need without defrosting an entire batch. Want to keep those veggie scraps working for you? Add them to your compost!

So...did I keep my promise? That was easy, huh? Let me know if you try it and for those of you who are light years ahead of my homemaking and already do this, feel free to share how you do it and what you use it for. I am planning to use part of this first batch in cooking some dried garbanzo beans for homemade hummus. I think it is going to be great in some veggie chili as well!
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