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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October Blog Angels Review

This month I participated in Rosie's Blog Angel Program over at http://www.craftbotic.com/. She assigned me Shasta from http://intheoldroad.blogspot.com/. I enjoyed getting to know Shasta through her blog where she stays busy co-hosting the weekly All-Star Blogger Block Party and hosting a monthly Blog Hop.  
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In The Old Road












I know I will continue participating in Shasta's parties and hope to stay in touch with her. If you'd like to be a Blog Angel or learn more about it, you can here:
Craftbotic


Friday, October 26, 2012

From T-Shirt to Treasure: Part 1

Welcome to my first series. This will be a five-part sewing series on re-purposing t-shirts. I hope you'll come back over the next five Fridays to see what else I share about t-shirt re-purposing and re-styling. 

 Part One: Re-Purposing Messed Up T-Shirts
Is it just me, or do any of you also find tiny holes in the front of your t-shirts close to your waistline? Seeing that in never happened when t-shirt lengths were shorter nor while I was pregnant and wore those lovely stretchy jeans and pants, I’ve decided those holes come from wearing a seat belt with jeans on (or anything with a button for the seat belt to rub up against). If you have a better answer, I’d love to hear it, but I know it’s not ants because it happens to shirts I hang and shirts I fold, and it happens to all brands. It frustrates me to no end when an adorably cute t-shirt that I’ve worn like three times has the tiniest hole, and I watch for them these days. Once I get several holes, I give up. 

I used to just toss the shirts since they weren’t even worth donating with all those holes, but that bothered me. I recycle, donate, and re-purpose as much as possible, so the thought of throwing away an article of clothing seems so wrong to me. What could I possibly do with a t-shirt that was in great shape aside from those pesky holes toward the bottom? Well, unless half-shirts come back in style, I can’t just cut off the bottom few inches, re-hem and wear them. Please, oh, please don’t let half-shirts come back. As much as I’d love to get to wear these t-shirts again, nobody needs to see my belly after baby #4 took its toll! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DIY Ice Pack and Cover

A couple months ago, my seven-year-old son was standing at our double-door pantry, picking out peanut butter crackers as a snack just as I had grabbed a pack of fruit snacks for my daughter while she sat on my hip, one of her favorite places to be. Sometimes I think she's part koala bear. As I stepped back away from the pantry, I unknowingly stepped on the new bouncy ball I had just bought that morning at the dollar store for my princess. Dang blue ball! Obviously, I am not skilled enough to balance on a ball while holding 35 pounds on my hip because I went crashing down into the corner of the wall and my son. My left knee, which happens to be missing an ACL, thanks to jumping out of the back of my dad's truck almost a year and a half ago, was speared by the corner and my butt hit the hardwood. Both were in severe pain. Thankfully, mommy instincts took over during the nano-second it took to fall, and I managed to protect my daughter. She was unharmed but stared at my in shock. My seven-year-old was in tears, and my two oldest boys ran from the family room to see why I had shouted profanity.

In tears, I noticed I hadn't dusted under the dining room hutch in a long time, so my first set of instructions spoken through tears of pain were for my oldest to please get the Swiffer and clean up those spider webs. Yup, I've got screwy priorities at times. Meanwhile, I asked my middle son to get me a cold wash cloth because I'm prone to fainting when I get injured, and I was already starting to sweat. My husband took care of our youngest son who had smartly grabbed one of our many cold packs we use for lunches from the freezer and lay on the sofa. During my fall, I had slammed him into the door. Poor kid. Thankfully, all of my kids are hard headed, literally. They are also hard headed in the figurative sense, but that's another story.

Once my pain alleviated from my buttocks and knee, I got up. Sweetly, my middle son had run upstairs and grabbed my crutches for me. Thankfully, I didn't need them. My knee was bruised, but I hadn't twisted it this time. That reminds me; I was going to go to the gym today. Oops.

Okay, so why all this personal rambling you wonder? All this commotion made me realize that I need to make some real ice pack and ice pack covers to have on hand. After all, with four active kids and a bad knee, these will come in handy... a lot. I decided they would need to be made of some fun fabric, something that would make us laugh to take our mind of the pain of the injury. I didn't have any such fabric, but I knew I could find some though it would mean yet another trip to the store, and I had just gone today. I wouldn't have a chance to go back for at least a week. Darn. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas


Back when my hubby and I were first married, I desperately needed to create a recipe box. My recipes consisted mostly of what you find on the back of soup cans and rice boxes, so whenever a family member or close friend made something delicious, I'd eagerly ask them to share their recipe. That's how I got this one. It's from one of my cousins who always seems to be able to whip up new courses with no effort, and they are always crowd pleasers. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Following My First Pattern


 I've been sewing for six months now, so I figured it was time to learn how to follow a real pattern. I've used simple patterns from some lovely blogs like the one from lbg studio whose blog taught me how to make my daughter's pillowcase dress and can follow instructions on how to make skirts like my ruffle skirt from Sew Mama Sew. However, I had yet to brave actually purchasing and following a pattern until I found this one: Simplicity 2019. It was titled "SewSimple" and stated "one easy project" on it, so that sounded like a good one for a beginner like me. Plus, it was cute, only cost $0.98 at Wal-Mart, and had no zippers or buttons. Bonus! I found some inexpensive material at the same time, figuring if I ruined it, I would only be out about ten bucks. The pattern called for 1 5/8 yard of fabric and a package of 1/4 inch elastic, so that was easy enough.

Well, cutting out the pattern was simple, and being the cheap thrifty person that I am, I saved all the larger portions to make the dress in a larger size for the future. Even following the instructions to match up the fabric and cut it out wasn't hard, but I had done that before when I made my own pattern for my half circle flowing skirt, so I was still feeling confident.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tae Kwon Do Belt Promotion Cake

When I began my blog, I promised to present a different birthday party on the first Friday of every month, but I missed August and September. I have no good excuse other than I forgot. While I will continue to add birthday ideas and cake tutorials, I will just share them on a random basis. I hope that's okay. Perhaps, this cake recipe will make it up to you!
My youngest son has been taking Tae Kwon Do for over a year and a half, so when they started offering birthday parties, where to go and what to do for his seventh birthday was a no-brainer. We booked the party and invited all his baseball teammates and boy classmates, sorry girls. It was such an easy party for me but so much fun for the kids. They were taught how to do flying side kicks, competed to see who could jump over the most pads, and broke boards. The birthday boy got to do even more as the star of the show. When it was time to break for cake, he even got to cut it with a Ninja sword!
To go along with the theme of the party, I created a Tae Kwon Do belt promotion cake by laying cake and icing in all the colors of the belts. Okay, so we skipped the white belt out of necessity, but the rest are all there, and that's seven layers! Are you curious about how I did it? 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Blog Angels

This month, I'm participating in Craftbotic's Blog Angel program. If you aren't familiar with it, you may want to visit Rosie's blog, but I'll also give you a quick summary. Every few months, Rosie pairs up bloggers who have signed up to get a Blog Angel. These angels remain anonymous for two weeks while they secretly visit their assigned blogger's website and promote it.

I was given Shasta from http://intheoldroad.blogspot.com/.
On the first day I visited her blog, I discovered it was her first year blogiversary! That was a treat, so I decided to try to make it special by getting as many people to join in on her celebration by sending shout outs on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +. I also posted an anonymous congrats as her Blog Angel. 

The next time I visited her blog, I realized she hosts a Fall Blogger All-Star Block Party every Tuesday. I joined in and again gave shout outs, inviting other bloggers to participate. 

I don't know how she does it, but Shasta is one busy blogger because the next time I visited her blog, I saw she was hosting a Google + blog hop on October 6th, which, again, I gave shout outs for and added a button on my blog to help promote it. Apparently, she does this every month, so if you want to join in on the fun, be sure to visit her blog for the next date. Of course, I also joined in on this party too. I started to wonder who was benefiting more from this pairing, Shasta or me. As her angel, I was supposed to be helping her out, but so far, these parties seemed to be helping me grow my blog just as much!

Okay, you are probably starting to see a pattern here. Every time I visit Shasta's blog, I'm amazed to learn about yet one more activity she's involved in, so it will come as no surprise to you when I tell you that on my next visit, I read that she runs http://www.linkyhere.com/, which is a website designed specifically to help bloggers find linky parties. Once again, I was in awe and thrilled to stumble upon another great resource. What I love about this site is that it doesn't just organize parties by days of the week but also by theme. That was something new for me.

I'm thrilled to be participating in the Blog Angel program and look forward to "meeting" Shasta during our reveal today!
 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Another Necklace DIY


While I was shopping for the latches for my ring necklace, I found these adorable picture frame charms that were only two bucks for a pack of three. I couldn't resist. I had wanted to make a necklace to wear to my sons' football games, but I couldn't find the supplies for what I had in mind. I'll keep looking, but I love what I made this time around.

You see, my oldest two boys play in little league football, and our school is zoned to the Texans team, so as long as they play in this league, they will remain on this same team. Being the supportive football-loving mom that I am, I wanted more than just my t-shirt to show my support. This is what I created:

To make this necklace, I first found these picture frame charms at Wal-Mart. They are made by Cousin. The quality isn't top-rate, but I'm hoping it'll hold up, and since three came to a pack, I can always make a new one if necessary. Okay, so here's what I did...



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Co-Hosting Wonderful Wednesday Link Party

I am thrilled to have another opportunity to co-host a link party because it allows me to meet so many new wonderful bloggers. For those of you visiting my blog for the first time: Welcome! I hope you'll come back on Friday for a necklace tutorial I'm sharing about a super cute yet extremely easy necklace I made to wear to my two oldest boys' football games. It's customized, so I just flip it over between games to make both boys happy! Next week, you'll find a great recipe for a special birthday cake along with my Secret Blog Angel Reveal. If you aren't familiar with Blog Angels, you can learn more by visiting Rosie at http://www.craftbotic.com/. She'll host another one in December. 

I also hope you'll check out some of my recent posts, especially those pertaining to Halloween! We've made our Trick or Feet canvas, a Candy Corn dress, and even Jack-o-Lantern scratch art recently.

Enough about me. Let's get on with the party! I look forward to meeting you all! 

 



Welcome to Wonderful Wednesday. This link party is here to aid you in finding not only new awesome blogging friends but followers as well. Share the love, follow the rules, and meet new people!This link-party can be found here every Wednesday.

1- FOLLOW YOUR HOSTS VIA GOOGLE FRIEND CONNECT
(the first links in link-up, marked host!)
2-LINK UP USING YOUR BLOGS URL
(please do not use a specific post)
3-FOLLOW OTHER BLOGGERS & COMMENT
(meet new people, make new friends)
4-GRAB THE BUTTON, ADD IT TO YOUR BLOG
(share the linky love, and button up below)
5-SHARE THE WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY NEWS
(tweet, facebook,  instagram & etc about link party)


6-WANT TO HOST?
(shoot us an email)

     


Monday, October 8, 2012

Halloween Jack-o-Lantern Scratch Art


one of Dad's jack-o-lanterns
Every October since before I was born, my dad has made the best jack-o-lanterns. He would start by buying the biggest pumpkin at the grocery store. Then he'd gather his supplies: a large spoon, a bucket or bowl, a large knife, and a smaller knife. Sometimes he'd sit outside for this annual project while other times, he'd work on it at the kitchen island. Either way, my sisters and I would gather round in great anticipation. No two jack-o-lanterns were ever the same, but one thing was certain. No matter how many times my sisters and I would request a pretty jack-o-lantern or a "little girl" jack-o-lantern, that request was always denied. Nope, Dad's jack-o-lanterns were big and angry! 

I have fond memories of watching him carefully saw open the top, scoop out the seeds and innards, and carefully go about creating the face. It was never the simple triangle features found on our neighbors' front porches. No, his had wrinkles, scars, pointy ears, snaggly teeth, arched eyebrows, and realistic eyes with pupils. Upon completion of his work, we'd turn off the kitchen lights and wait with abated breath for the grand finale when he'd add a lit votive to illuminate its scary features. Then we always stood in awe.

Once I grew up, married, and moved into my own house, Dad still created his Halloween masterpieces for each of his daughters. He'd drive to our houses to deliver his hand-made works of art to display by our own front doors. I loved it! I didn't dare try making my own even though about this time, stores started selling those pumpkin-carving kits, complete with ornate templates. I felt like those kits were cheating. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Candy Corn Dress







This past summer, I made a triple-tiered tank dress that my daughter absolutely loved, and so did I. It was a sewing project I made with my best friend, as one of our monthly sewing get-togethers. For October, I was all set on making circle skirts for our daughters, but the night before, instead of sleeping, I decided the girls needed something more fall-ish. I'd seen lots of wonderful candy corn decorations, jewelry, and outfits online, so I was inspired to make candy corn dresses using the same premise as the triple-tiered tank dress. 

I must say that shopping with my BFF instead of my daughter is much more fun. I don't have to chase her down any aisles! And we got to spend time looking at patterns and jewelry projects. With our orange and yellow fabric in hand (and a few more items not on our shopping list), we headed for the check out. As you can see, we chose to avoid solid yellow fabric and found some sweet fabric with small print on them to make the dresses look less like costumes. I bought the yellow, and she bought the orange, so we could take advantage of the 40% off coupons for the fabric. I already owned two white tank tops that I bought brand new from a neighbor when I bought the pink one, so these dresses were going to cost us less than $4 per girl to make! We actually ended up with enough fabric to make three dresses, but we still need another shirt.

Since we live in Texas, we can get away with a light dress like this through Thanksgiving, but I plan to buy a long-sleeved black fitted t-shirt and black leggings for her to wear under it when we get the occasional cold front. We need those items for her Minnie Mouse Halloween costume anyway.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Letting Kids Fail



After listening to me help our sixth grader revise his essay, my husband made a suggestion. Instead of being so involved in his schoolwork and homework, making sure he knew when his tests were, reminding him to put his clean gym clothes and homework in his backpack, and helping him with his homework and studying, why not just let him do it himself? And if he fails, let him.

What? I can't do that. I'm a control freak in remission. I thought I had been showing considerable restraint, and I haven't yelled at him once, not even when he left his back pack, viola, lunch bag, and dirty gym clothes in our formal living room from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon despite several reminders. Okay, maybe I raised my voice at that one, but I promise there has been no yelling when I find out the night before a test that he needs help finishing his study guide or the day after an assignment was due that he forgot to turn it in. Don't I deserve something for that?

Sixth grade has been a huge adjustment in our home. I know it's different in other school districts and states, but here, sixth grade is the first grade of intermediate school. The kids transition from two academic teachers a year to six. They have lockers and bell schedules and adolescence to get used to. On top of that, our son is in the most advanced classes offered in the most difficult intermediate school in the district. And my dear hubby wants me to become hands-off about it? I tried last year. Really, I did. He wasn't ready, and the only change from fourth to fifth grade was more challenging teachers.

This year, it's not like I'm walking him to class. In fact, on two different occasions during these past three weeks of school I've discovered a forgotten item at home. The first time it happened, it was a notebook left on the kitchen table. I knew he was still waiting for the bus, so I ran it out to him without embarrassing him in front of all his seventh and eighth grade friends. It's not like I was wearing a bath robe and curlers. And I didn't holler. That was the third day of school, the day he was required to bring all his school supplies to class, the day he couldn't even squeeze everything into his backpack. About ten minutes after his bus had left, my daughter proudly brings me his lock. He had decided to bring it home the day before to practice using it so he'd be ready with all his supplies. Yup, I had just sent him off to a school that doesn't allow students to carry backpacks to class with six binders, three spirals, a viola, a lunch bag, and no lock for his locker. Oh, and he had a broken foot at the time, so he got to carry it all while hobbling on this large boot. However, I didn't take it up to him, partly because I was teaching him responsibility, partly because I didn't want to be labeled as that mom so early in the school year.

I was anxious to hear about his dilemma when he came home, not knowing how he'd handle it. He did well. He just lugged his heavy backpack to every class because, thankfully, that was the last day the teachers allowed backpacks in their classes for the year. 

I was also proud of myself when I let his spelling homework remain on our kitchen table all day, knowing he'd end up with a 50 on it. We had it out so he could study for the quiz that morning. Geez, what's that saying about one step forward, two steps back? That's about how I was feeling at this point.

Tonight, however, I was feeling fairly good. Yes, it was almost 10:00 p.m. by the time I sent him to bed. Yes, I found his language arts binder in the kitchen instead of inside his backpack in the living room where it still sat since Friday evening. Yes, I found his math homework sitting on the other end of the kitchen on top of his dirty t-shirt instead of, well, you get the idea. What to do? My hubby had just told me to let our son make his own mistakes. My hubby would suggest leaving the binder and the homework in the kitchen, but I simply could not do it.

So, I'm curious. What is your approach to helping your children? Are you more of a laissez faire type like my husband or the helicopter parent that my husband thinks I am? How do you cope?



I'll be sharing this post at some of these parties here or here.     



Monday, October 1, 2012

Slow Cooker Recipe #2: Pulled Pork Loin



Over a year ago, a friend shared her pork loin roast recipe with me when I told her I needed to learn some new crock pot meals my kids would enjoy. They've always liked pork, but I was getting tired of cooking it as an oven roast, mainly because it sometimes turned out too dry, and I'm not a gravy-making girl.

While I enjoyed her recipe, I made a couple changes. For starters, I simplified the process because, I'll admit it, I can be a lazy cook. Secondly, it was a bit too spicy for my kids, and while I liked the flavor, I wanted to tone it down to allow the taste of the pork to come through, but mainly, I wanted to please my picky eaters. Here is the modified version, which has been a hit in our house. I love the ease of this recipe and the moistness of the meat. Plus, it goes well with all sorts of side dishes, so it's very flexible. It would also be great doubled, so you could freeze the leftovers or share with another family. If you know a family who has had a baby recently or has a loved one in the hospital, why not take a dish of this to their house? They would be thrilled!



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