Monday, July 23, 2012

Chalk Mats to GO!

Chalk mats are a huge new trend--actually, chalk anything.  Chalk banners.  Chalk mirrors (or, used-to-be-mirrors).  Chalk placemats.  Chalk tablecloths.  I even saw a chalk dress!  In an effort to make our upcoming travel a bit more fun, I set about making some quick to-go chalkmats for my kids.  I wanted a pocket so they could keep the chalk with the mats, and also some type of closure.  Oh, and I wanted them small enough to fit in their laps!

And, while they might not be the nicest looking chalkmats around, I can happily say I completed my task in less than half an hour!  I just grabbed some random scrap material (an old pair of jeans and an old  armrest cover), and voila!  Fun activity to go.  Check it out! :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Chase

My 10 month old son recently realized he could reach the fruit bowl.  This has been a wonderful discovery, for both him and me.  He enjoys stealing apples.  I enjoy watching his mischievousness.  Sure, when he's a little older, I won't be as happy to watch him get into trouble.  But for now, while he's so doggone cute, and merely stealing apples, I will revel in this innocent test of ability.

In his theft, one apple never seems enough.  He gets one, but then after a few bites seem to want a greater challenge.  At that point, apple in hand, he tries to pull himself up to get another.  This is more difficult than one might realize, since getting to the fruit bowl a second time with one hand full of apple is a serious feat.  He can't yet stand on is own, so he needs those hands to help pull himself up.  Yesterday, he was successful in his attempt.  

However, procuring two apples is one challenge--keeping them both nearby is another.  
Just thought you might enjoy seeing a little of this game in action....and hearing big sister (2 years old)  trying to help in the event. :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bridesmaid dress *makeover*

Six years ago this summer I was toiling away in a sky-high apartment in Cambridge, MA, working on my bridesmaid's dresses.  I had decided to make the dresses, so that they could match my wedding gown in style.  I had also decided to make the dresses out of cotton, instead of satin, thinking that when the wedding was over, the girls might be able to wear the dresses to another event.

In the process, since I'm not an expert seamstress by far, I had decided to first make a dress for myself--that way I knew what I should keep the same about the pattern, and what I'd like to have changed for the girls' dresses.

Outside of trying the dress on right after I made it, I've never worn it since.  I noticed it this past Sunday in my closest and decided, "heck, why don't I do something about this dress to make it a little more wear-able...?"  Since I've been sewing more of late, I thought I'd take a stab at making some creative changes.  I figured, what's the worst thing that could happen?  I'd ruin it?  It's not like I was wearing it anyway, so what would that matter?

Since I didn't care too much if my project failed, I didn't put much effort into making my lines clean.  Now that it's turned out half-decent, I'm just hoping that the people in the pew behind me at church aren't staring at my poor sewing the next time I wear this on a Sunday morning.  From far away, I think it looks cute enough to wear.  Maybe if my bridesmaids have their dresses still collecting dust in their closets, they could do a dress revamp of their own. :)

Most of the important things I changed dealt with the bodice--it was way too bulky up top to feel comfortable, and it came too high on the back.  I cut on both sides of the "straps" to make them thinner, but still wasn't satisfied in the end.  I ultimately decided to add two little loops to draw in the straps to make them more comfortable.  In the back, I simply cut out a huge chunk of fabric, folded down the zipper and sewed.  I also trimmed the length so that it lays just below the knee instead of just below the calf.  I think it still could have used a little more off the bottom, but I was getting kind of tired of the project by that point....  (My moods are so easily shifting!)

Sorry the pictures aren't so great---I often have trouble taking pictures of myself!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Basil #2

Wondering what else you can do with your basil?  Here's a delicious (and colorful!) meal that's not only simple, but somewhat cool for these 100 degree days.  I am sure you can make lots of variations of this idea, so I will just give you the basics of what I did and you can use your own creativity from there.... :)

Pasta salad with basil, tomatoes, mozzarella and northern beans  (yes, really, northern beans!!)


great northern beans, rinsed and drained
fresh garlic cloves
olive oil
cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
shredded mozzarella cheese

1)  Marinate your basil in a bag with 1/2 to 1 cup of olive oil (depending on how much pasta you're making).  Add to the bag your cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, and salt/pepper.

2) Cook your pasta.  At about 5 minutes left, add your beans to your pasta.  Drain.  At this point, you can either rinse your pasta with cold water to get it cool faster, or just let it sit.  (In my case, I just let it sit for half an hour because I was busy getting other things done and my sink was already full of dirty dishes... :-/  )  **Personally, I don't like COLD pasta salad, so I didn't want to put it in the fridge.  I thought it was perfect slightly cooled, so that it wasn't steaming, but it was warm enough to heat up the tomatoes a bit when they were added.

3)  Once the pasta and bean mixture has cooled slightly, add your marinade.  You can either add your shredded mozzarella cheese here, or let everyone at the table do that part themselves.

That's it!  I'm sure many of you would think of this more as a side dish, so feel free to make it that.... but in my house, I make my family go without. :-P hahahaha!  I'm sure having a side salad would have been great, but meh, that's more work.  I figure, this had something green, a vegetable, carbs (which is necessary for my hypoglycemic son)  and even good protein from the beans and cheese.  That's good enough for me.  And maybe, when it's 104 degrees at your house, it will be good enough for you too..... ;-)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Basil #1

Finally, reaping the harvest!  Okay, in all honesty, we've been reaping a harvest of basil for weeks now, but only "finally" getting around to taking pictures....

I've had such a feeling of satisfaction this year as I planted about 60 basil plants from seed, all of which grew beautifully. I sold about half of them, but don't worry, what's left is plenty for us. :)

Of course the first thing that comes to mind when you think basil is probably basil pesto, right?  In our house it sure is.  My four year old loves pesto; consequently, that's where most of our basil goes.  Every couple of days I get to making pesto again.  He eats tablespoons of the stuff every day, after all.  (On bread, wraps, pasta, pretty much anything bread-y.)

Want some fresh pesto?  Come on over.  I'll only share if you stay a while and chat, though....  :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stay Safe, Little Birdie

I noticed something strangely unlike basil sitting in a pot on my porch yesterday....  That is, I noticed its dissimilarities to basil right off, seeing as how only basil was supposed to be in that pot.

Turns out, it was a small robin, still speckled on its breast showing it's young age.  The poor thing tried to fly out of the pot once my children neared its hideout.  We then watched it hop across the road--almost being run over by two separate cars as it clumsily moved to and fro.  Thankfully it made it to the porch of the neighbor, and we promptly followed it.  We watched it try desperately to gain higher ground, but its wings only sputtered.  What a precious sight.

We left it in a bush right off our neighbor's porch.  I only hope that it's still alive today, despite the many dangers that abound for a fledgling robin on our street.  If only the cats next door recognized the beauty of it as much as we did.