Mobirise




Blogging since 2009, I'm a 1950s housewife to the bone and I love to share what I've learned with others. I'm a lifelong foodie, raised with Sunday dinners at my grandmother's and daily scratch cooking in my childhood kitchen. I'm a nerdy homeschooling mama of 3, and a wife of 17 years.

I drink tea when I knit and coffee when I do everything else.



From Memorial Day to Labor Day!
Day 1 - Skirt Steak w/ Chimichurri
Day 2 - Top Sirloin w/ Homemade Rub
Day 3 -
Rib Eye w/ Herbed Butter
Day 4 - Rosemary Chicken
Day 5 - Top Sirloin Gyros
Day 6 - Kansas City Style Pork Chops
Day 7 - Steak and Mushroom Kebabs
Day 8 - Dad's Hamurgers, 2.0
Day 9 - Top Sirloin w/ Mushrooms
Day 10 - Kid's Lunch
Day 11 - Chicken Souvlaki
Day 12 - S'mores Cones
Day 13 - Short Ribs



Kitchen & Sewing Skills!
Intro - Syllabus
Lesson 1 - Running & Whipstitch
Lesson 2 - Cookies

Summer Home Ec – Week One – Sewing Lesson One

Crafty, Homeschooling, Kids

Our first home ec lesson of the summer was a lot of fun! My daughters are 11 (Helena) and 8 (Daphne) and at different skill levels, however Helena requested to start as a beginner along with Daphne as a refresher. I think that worked out really well for her because she felt more confident and we ended up altering Daphne’s lesson a little to make it less frustrating (and therefore still fun) for her.

Officially, the objectives I gave for our first lesson were; threading a needle, running stitch, and whipstitch. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that show these stitches well, but not in one place and it takes a little searching, so I’m gathering the best videos to illustrate them throughout this series.

Before we began, I set out felt, needles and thread in different colors. They both chose red felt, Helena went with blue thread and Daphne went with pink thread. In the middle of my ‘how to thread a needle’ instructions, Daphne threaded her needle. She was instantly good at it, which is always a nice little confidence booster! So right away, she was into it.

 

Then I showed them how to do a running stitch and explained to them that it can be used as a decorative closing stitch for stuffies and other cute creations. I also showed them how it can be used for gathering and making some pretty ruffles as well if you gently pull on the end of the thread. This video from Red Ted Art was especially helpful.

Once we began doing the running stitch, Daphne started getting frustrated. I know everyone has different thoughts on this, but just as in our regular homeschool lessons I will backpedal as much as is necessary to avoid frustrating the children. I always, always, find a level of whatever it is we are doing where they are comfortable and start there. Otherwise, they are likely not going to learn anything other than to dislike whatever it is you are trying to teach them. She was having a hard time holding the felt and it was bothering her that she wasn’t able to get her stitches as straight as Helena’s. Then in dawned on me. Where in sewing are all your stitches neat and orderly, even if you’re wobbily with a needle and thread? Cross stitching! Less than 5 minutes later, I set her up with some white aida cloth, an embroidery hoop and embroidery floss and she was a happy camper! Helena continued to work on the fleece with the sewing thread, and I used a ruler and a Sharpie to illustrate stitches that were 1/2″ apart.

 

Satisfied that they were comfortable with the running stitch, we moved on to the whipstitch. The first example I showed them was actually from an advent craft I made years ago. I closed all the pouches with the whipstitch, and they remembered when I did it. This video from Lauren Fairweather showed a wonderful example of using it to attach an applique and that’s what we used in our lesson! You can do it this way or you can use it to sew two pieces together.

For the applique, I just cut hearts out of a contrasting color of felt. First I explained the stitch, then we watched the video I embedded above and then I showed them how on my piece of felt. They happily started on their own and they each did a great job!

 

One Helena had finished whipstitching her heart onto her practice piece, Daphne was about 1/4 done and took a break. She did resume this project after and was happy with her progress.

 

This should be a fun, no pressure summer project. The point of today’s lesson was for the kids to learn to thread a needle, do a basic running stitch and a basic whipstitch. Mission accomplished! Next Sewing lesson will be on Friday when we attach buttons and trims – next home ec lesson is tomorrow though, when the girls will be baking cookies on their own!

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2016 Advent Day 3

Crafty, Domestic, Holiday, Home, Kids, Utah

Our third day of advent happened to be our first Saturday of advent, so it was a somewhat relaxed start. We have had two house guests for the past two weeks and one of them left this morning! Every morning he asked for 3 hard boiled eggs, I have little doubt that my muscle memory in the kitchen will have me reaching for my Dash egg cooker before I think more and realize he is not here! Tomorrow morning is actually an event for us, the girls and I are going to Storybrook for breakfast for Santa and Mrs. Clause! I can hardly wait! I admit I am excited for my outfit choice, which involves an adorable vintage-style dress from Mod Cloth and darling earrings from Polly Danger. Of course, I’ll document the adventure.

First up, as usual, were our elves. This morning they were found *in* my Santa head cookie jar, nibbling at yesterday’s advent cookies, I’m sure! They could have just asked. ;)

Advent gifts today were especially fun, I think. Richard’s was two little sets of textured, multimedia canvases, one set was 2″ x 4″ and the other set was 3″ x 3″. His clue was about setting up Chromecast, so he went straight for behind the TV and found them! Today, Lena got Matched, the first book in a three book series that I am madly in love with. When I first read them she was too young for them, so I am happy she has reached the point where she is into them. Her favorite genre right now is YA fiction about a dystopian future, so these are right up her alley Her hint asked her what she looked forward to most about our weekly family meetings, and she headed for the board games! Daphne got two of the cutest little Tsum Tsums today! Her Tsum Tsum tiny was Bambi, but it was made even cuter by the crazy small and totally adorable Santa hat headband that came with it! What?! She can put this hat on any tiny Tsum Tsum! Her mini today was Lady (from Lady and the Tramp, of course) and it’s even cuter than I thought it would be. Her hint was about the Christmas tree, and she was hidden in there. They all showed each other their scores and then scattered to use / read / play with their advent treats.

Our advent cookie experience today was something I knew we would run into eventually, and it actually happened on day 3. We made a cookie we didn’t really love. Ok, ok, full disclosure? I sort of hate it. The upside is these little balls of ground almond reminded me so much of my Thea Rika’s kourabiedes, which I honestly think are a better version of today’s cookie. Anyhoo, today’s was Ginger Pfeffernüesse, it was a flour and almond meal dough with just three eggs and spices. You pinch off pieces and roll them into balls, bake, roll the baked balls in confectioner’s sugar, let cool and roll them in confectioner’s sugar again. They were kinda spicy and not really my thing. I’m more about the chocolate and the obvious sugary cookies. However, I am sure someone will love them and thankfully most of my friends are into trying new foods. I know Erin, Jessica, Wendy and Kaelee will all be down with trying them out. These will not make it back on my to-bake list, though. We actually ended our kitchen adventures today with some edible cookie dough that Lena loves making because we knew we’d love it and the kids were not having today’s cookies.

 

Today’s advent activity was to make paper chains! Lena especially had a blast with this activity! We made chains for all three kitchen doorways and Richard remembered all the paper chain countdowns we have made over the years. I LOVE that he is 16 now and remembers fondly the silly things like that from his childhood. So fun!

 

I also mentioned yesterday that I’d post pictures of the paper snowflakes we made, so here’s one of those too!

Coffee advent tonight was a bit of a throwback for me because it was a Cafe au Lait and I literally have not made one since I was a teenager living at my parent’s house! I used the same Starbucks espresso roast I have been using this week, but I am going to invest in a frother because my froth was pathetic. The coffee itself was really good though!

I am off to bed so I can get up bright and early so my daughters and I can have breakfast with Mr. and Mrs. C in the morning!

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Condensed Milk Painting

Crafty, Homeschooling, Kids

Painting with condensed milk is a fun and weird way to mix up kid’s art afternoons. The kids think it’s either really neat or really gross and honestly, either reaction is great. Something a little different than standard tempra, watercolor or acrylic paints.

We used a whole can of sweetened condensed milk and food coloring to make the colors. My girls couldn’t get over it being edible, every few minutes they’d ask ‘so I can just eat this?!’, and I’d reply, ‘yes, but don’t!’, since they were mixed in an old egg carton with brushes we use for painting all the time! The purple and red were not bright enough according to my littles, so I added a little dab of tempra paint to brighten them up. Defo not edible now!

The paint is a little goopey, and when it hits the paper it feels weird to make the brush stokes because it is thicker than paint. This is a fun experience for the kids (I thought it was really cool too) and the resulting art is different than it would be if it had the same consistency as paint. They got really into it as a sensory exercise too, and then got down to painting.

The neatest thing about painting with condensed milk is once it’s dry (this large masterpiece took two days to dry completely), it is so beautifully shiny! Shiny as if you’ve coated it in Mod Podge or sprayed it with a clear coat. It hangs in our hallway and is the shiniest piece there!

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Sock Puppets

Crafty

Making sock puppets is usually reserved for little kids and their grannies using up orphaned socks and mismatched buttons, and while I have done that as a little kid and intend to do that as a granny, really sock puppet making is all about creating little characters. It’s so neat to see the personalities come out of these guys as they are being made. You could probably just gather all your favorite crafty gear and easily make sassy puppets from that, but for these guys I was going for a specific kind of feeling.

I used; dark, fuzzy socks, felt, foam, ping pong balls, fun fur yarn and hot glue.

You really can just wing it from what you have, but you might want to have a general idea of what you want your puppet to look like. I made a few for fun and I made one for a friend who needed it for a project, and he needed it to be a slightly shady character. I knew I wanted him to have big, black rimmed eyes and different sized pupils and I knew his hair needed to be really bright. The details, and the execution, happen in the moment. This first puppet was my practice guy and he turned out awesome.

sock puppets sock puppets

I would recommend though, that you do the inside of the mouth first, just to claim the center. I say claim, because really, it’s a sock and you can make the middle of it be where ever you want. I put the sock on, with the heel part on the back of my wrist for comfort when using it, and opened the area where the mouth would be.

sock puppets sock puppets

I cut out a long oval from black felt and hot glued it to the sock there to be the inside of the mouth. Then I put the sock back on my hand and dabbed a little hot glue on a ping pong ball. I attached the ping pong ball eye to the sock while it was on my hand to make sure I had it positioned right – just be careful because the heat from the glue sucks on your knuckles through the sock, but it’s worth it. I added the pupils right away.

sock puppets sock puppets

I cut a small oval from red felt for his tongue and glued that in his mouth, not sticking out, mostly centered. I eyeballed it, it doesn’t have to be perfect but I didn’t want it to be too off center. For his hair, I knitted a little swatch-size piece from fun fur yarn. For this guy I decided to go with green. Once it was knitted up, I placed it on him like a toupee and hot glued it in place.

sock puppets sock puppets

For this second guy, I still wanted ping pong eyes, but I wanted them to be a little different. A little sleepier, creepier, weirder. So I cut the ping pong balls in half and glued them on in basically the same position as the full ping pong balls on the first puppet. To really make him look creepier than the first one, who looked really friendly, I cut small strips of black felt and rimmed his eyes with them, then I added mis-matched pupils. I knitted up a few toupees in different colors and this blue seemed to look the best with the black sock I used.

sock puppets sock puppets

I attacked his mouth earlier, but added the tongue and teeth at this point. The tongue was red felt and the teeth were yellow and white foam. I was a little nervous about adding the teeth because I didn’t want to wreck him at this point in the process but I just went for it and I’m so glad I did! All you really need is a sock, a box of rando craft supplies and a hot glue gun – and an imagination! The kids made a bunch too, even one with square pupils and one with heart shaped pupils! So silly, I love it!

sock puppets
sock puppets
sock puppets
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WIP Wednesday Beekeeper Quilt Edition

Crafty

It’s Work in Progress Wednesday!!

I started this project in the fall of 2011 and it still is not finished. I have knit several pairs of socks, a baby blanket, American Girl doll clothes, baby booties and a scarf or two since then, but I have not finished this blanket. It is meant to be made from scraps of sock yarn, so my plan was to knit socks and then knit up some puffs with the leftover yarn and eventually I’d have enough puffs for this quilt. Man, it is sloooooow going on this thing. For the knitting olympics in 2012 I made 100 of them and last summer I just decided to try to make the blanket with the puffs that I had – about 500.

I started piecing it together and I love how the different yarns look together. I have an issue with bunching in a few places because the blanket was not flat as I was sewing it together. Whoops. I can’t decide if I like the charm of how wonky it looks or if it needs to be fixed! This is going to be my main project this week and hopefully there is a whole lot more blanket seven days from now.

My major concern here is that I will have to knit more puffs and if I do, then I will need to knit them from tones of different yarn so it’s not mixed up in the middle and uniform on the edges. See the piles of puffs yet to be added to the blanket? Fingers crossed that’s enough.

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Advent Day 9 with Peanut Butter Pinwheels

Crafty, Domestic, Holiday, Kids

I hope your day 9 was good times! Ours was pretty relaxed. The kids were all hyped to dig into the box of crafty goodies that came yesterday, but first – their advent countdowns needed to be addressed haha.

 

I hate to admit that I didn’t understand what the Lego Friends toy was today (top left) until my husband came home and didn’t hesitate when I asked him what it was – candles. Duh. The Lego City toy was a little wagon with a baguette in it and the Calico Critter toys were the cutest kitchen accessories and plates of food! I’m a little obsessed with these! Today’s Jesse Tree was Surprise Gifts (GEN 15:20), we talked about how situations we don’t like often turn out to be blessings and added another paper ornament to our Jesse Tree.

 

Theeeeeen, we jumped into the glitter and sequins and white glue and foam snowflakes. It was a colorful, sticky and glorious festive mess. All three of them got into it (I did too of course but it’s way more noteworthy that my 14 year old son was down the with the crafty times). I have at least 6 of these sequin balls and I think I got 3 of the marshmallow snowmen. My favorites are yet to be made. Do you remember the clear plastic window ornaments that you’d paint as a kid and then hang in the sunlight? I got a ton of those because I was feeling nostalgic and I hope we get to do them tomorrow.

 

Our advent activity card for the day was to make Hot Chocolate Balls! They were super simple, really just chocolate chips, cream and vanilla extract. I will post a recipe once the balls firm up and I can finish taking pictures of them. We dipped some of our homemade marshmallows in the hot chocolate mixture before it started to set and sprinkled a little Christmas cheer on top. Perfect in a mug of warm milk.*
*Technically, I can’t drink milk because it rips my stomach to shreds, but the littles have told me it’s perfect in a mug of warm milk.

Our Christmas book tonight was If You Take a Mouse to the Movies. I read all of this series by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond to my oldest and he looooved them and it’s so rad to read them to his sisters now too.

Our cookie of the day was Peanut Butter Pinwheels. I wrote this recipe on an index card from a magazine who knows when and finally made them this afternoon with the littles. They did not turn out very pinwheely, but considering they were mainly done by a 5 year old, I think they turned out awesome.

Peanut Butter Pinwheels

via a random index card in my kitchen

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips

 

Like pretty much every PB cookie recipe, you cream the butter with the peanut butter and the sugar. Beat in the eggs and milk. Then instead of using another bowl, I add the flour, baking soda and salt to my sifter and crank the sifter to mix the dry together and into the wet at the same time. Then roll the dough out between pieces of parchment.

 

Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips all over the dough, within about 1/2″ of the edges. You just want to make sure you can roll the dough up without spilled the chocolate chips all over.

 

Now, roll up the dough and pop it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. I just put it in the freezer, cleaned the mess I just made in my kitchen and it was about ready for me to slice it. Preheat the oven to 375 and start slicing.

 

The recipe is supposed to make 2 dozen cookies, but I ended up with a little more than that. I baked them for 14 minutes and they were perfect. Almost peanut butter shortbread-ish. We shared with one neighbor when they were fresh and tomorrow we’ll take some to another neighbor that brought us pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread on the weekend.

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Felt Pouch Advent Countdown

Crafty, Holiday, Kids

I’ve mentioned my kids are crazy for advent countdowns before, this is still very true. Some are activities, some are treats or tiny gifts – you could do a combination of the three or choose one. I went with tiny gifts on this one. My two younger girls have become obsessed with Calico Critters, they are painfully adorable tiny toys with 10,000 tiny little accessories. They recently got small dollhouses for them and they are so detailed, it’s crazy cute. Each pouch has a little Calico Critter baby or a handful of accessories, Dec 6th and 12th have Santa and Mrs Claus.

Felt Pouch Advent Countdown

48 pieces of 3″ x 3″ squares of felt
felt for numbers
yarn
little jewels
colorful sequins
hot glue
scissors

 

Making the pouches themselves is really very simple, first cut out all the numbers you need and applique them to 24 pieces of 3″ x 3″ felt. Originally, I was planning to sew these on my machine inside out and have perfect edges. But when I saw how cute and wonky the hand cut numbers looked, I wanted them to look homemade and wobbly too so I just stitched them together along the outside edge.

I attached their yarn handles with a dab of hot glue just inside each pouch, then I attacked them with sequins and gems with more tiny dabs of hot glue.

 

I filled them with cute little accessories for the girls’ collection. These will be strung up on Nov 30 juuuust out of reach, thankfully the kids are into it and don’t spoil the fun by peaking, they are all excited with anticipation and it’s so fun to really draw it out all month long. On the 3rd, they get a teeny tiny bunny sandwich maker (that opens and closes) and two super cute bunny sandwiches (!!), on the 21st they get 4 plates of food, some biscuits and utensils. Adorable!

I am really excited to string these up and start opening them! The kids have seen me making them and our littlest picked all her favorite gems to be included. We can fill them with their different obsessions every year!

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Autumn Felt Wreath

Crafty, Holiday

Originally, I called this my Halloweeny Wreath, but changing the ribbon from skulls to bright orange makes it last longer. ;)

When I tried to work on it a little at a time, this project was taking forever. Once I decided to just give it a weekend and attack it, I got it finished in two days.

Felt Wreath

wreath form
orange yarn
orange felt
1 1/2″ circle guide
scissors
sewing needle
thread
silk flower (or other large embellishment)
hot glue
long ribbon

It’s really pretty simple, just time consuming.

First, wrap your wreath form in yarn. Try not to leave any bits showing so it gives a solid orange background. If you prefer, you can use wide orange ribbon instead.

Now you need to cut out approximately 10,000 felt circles. You’ll need 5 circles for each felt flower and I lost count of how many flowers I made. I can tell you that I used 25 pieces of felt measuring 9″ x 12″.

 

When you are sewing the circles together to make the flowers, take 5 at a time and fold them in half, then poke the needle through all 5 (so you have 10 layers of felt you’re poking through) and pull it tight. Go through all 10 layers once more and tie off the thread in the middle, then fan out the felt circles so they make a flower. Voila! Now do this over and over while watching all the Harry Potter movies. Once all your flowers are made, it’s time to hot glue them to your yarn (or fabric) covered wreath form. Just glue on your flower, or whatever large embellishment you went with and all that’s left is your ribbon.

I prefer to have my hook on the back of the door, loop the ribbon onto it and then hang the wreath over the door. I like it this way because when I don’t have a wreath on my door, I don’t love having a hook there, and even when there is a wreath hanging on it, I don’t like the way that it looks. So I use an extra long ribbon so it is secured inside the door, but hangs outside.

Happy last few days of autumn! We are putting up our tree on Tuesday because that it my husband’s birthday and marks exactly a month to Christmas. We have done that since before we had kids, it’s such a fun tradition. There are so many fun Christmasy things I want to post but I will hold off until after Thanksgiving and in the meantime, try to stay on track.

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Advent Activity Cards

Crafty, Holiday, Kids

We are big on advent countdowns around here. Like, really big on them. I’m considering posting the daily ‘adventing’ that goes on around here in December because it really is pretty ridic, and we love it. The kids especially love the act of counting down and getting little surprises or doing little activities. My favorite countdown is the knitted mitten countdown I made last year. Last year I printed the daily activities onto plain printer paper, rolled them up scroll-style and tied them with curling ribbon. They were adorable and we had a great time. It shouldn’t be surprising though, that I love the idea of keeping the daily activities prompts and using them year after year. So this year, we tweaked the activities so they were the best of the best that we would all enjoy over the years and I made cute cards and laminated them! I am including the PDFs for them at the end of the post if you’d like to use them or tweak them a little for yourself.

 

You will need 24 little containers of some kind to store these cards in, like my mittens, or you can just leave them in a stack and take one from the top every day.

Here are the activities we picked:
Dec 1 – write letters to Santa
Dec 2 – make paper snowflakes
Dec 3 – make paper chains
Dec 4 – bake bread
Dec 5 – bake cinnamon ornaments
Dec 6 – Christmas movie marathon
Dec 7 – make homemade marshmallows
Dec 8 – paint Christmas pictures
Dec 9 – make hot chocolate balls
Dec 10 – make Borax snowflakes
Dec 11 – decorate a gingerbread house
Dec 12 – make salt dough ornaments
Dec 13 – make snow globes
Dec 14 – make window clings
Dec 15 – make a gingerbread star garland
Dec 16 – make bottlecap snowmen
Dec 17 – make gifts for each other
Dec 18 – roast marshmallows
Dec 19 – play minute to win it games
Dec 20 – bake and bring treats to neighbors
Dec 21 – try a new recipe
Dec 22 – watch The Polar Express and drink hot chocolate
Dec 23 – play reindeer games
Dec 24 – read The Night Before Christmas

These activities require a little prep work, mostly just make sure you have what you need on hand to do the activity so no one is disappointed. :)

Dec 1 – Dec 8 advent cards
Dec 9 – Dec 16 advent cards
Dec 18 – Dec 24 advent cards

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WIP Wednesday – Socks Edition

Crafty

So first of all, today is one of my best friend’s birthdays and this WIP is her gift. Thankfully, I have something else for her until these are finished! Happy birthday Miss B!

The pattern is Flutter-by Socks by Shannon Robalino. It’s a fairly simple 10 row repeat. The first 9 rows alternate between a knit 5, slip 5 pattern and knitting the entire next row. On the 10th row, you knit through your slipped stitches and it creates a pretty, almost butterlfy-like design. Cute. Also, a fast knit, which is always nice for birthdays! I am using Lion Brand yarn, which I never usually use, but I must have picked it up for something specific and never used it aaaand it just happens to be the birthday girl’s favorite color. So way we go!

There are homeschool lessons today and a little blog maintenance that needs to be done after that, but then I fully intend to plunk down and knit until my wrists hurt. Good thing I got up early and got my chores out of the way!

Flutterby Socks photo WIP-b-socks_zpsc90c58c2.jpg

When is it socially acceptable to get into Christmas? We always, always put the tree up on my husband’s birthday, exactly a month before Christmas. We do the tree, gingerbread people and a totally unrelated ice cream birthday cake. In Canada, that was not really much of an issue because there isn’t really a firm date that people feel it’s reasonable to get in the spirit. Here, the day after Thanksgiving seems to be the magic date which makes us a little weird I guess since Thanksgiving often lands after the 25th, like it does this year. We were not going to change 11 years of tradition after we moved here and this will be our 3rd Thanksgiving in America. I have to admit, I love the feeling of the tree being up and the family getting into the groove of the holidays with a big feasty dinner – and still having a month to enjoy it.

We have a lot of activities planned for the rest of the year. The kids have some fun homeschool projects to complete and we are about to start some science experiments I am really excited about before we take a break for Christmas and New Years. And of course, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without lots of last minute crisis knitting.

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