Monday, December 28, 2009

Mom, It's a Perfect Day for a Picnic

You think so? 

Well, okay...

What smart cookies.

Oh I'm sorry.  I didn't realize this was a private party. 


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Xtranormal Report

This is awesome.  Elisabeth found a creative way to give a report. 

(Too bad there isn't a better wardrobe selection for the characters.)  You never knew reports were so fun, did you? 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kitchen Towel Re-Post

Nevermind me.  I'm just sneaking in here to re-post my updated kitchen towel entry. 

I first posted this tutorial on making a dressy oven door kitchen towel more than two years ago. Since then I have made many of them, and they just get easier! This is by far my most visited page, so I have updated the photos and added a video to demonstrate sewing the underarm seams.  Yesterday I looked at to see what these towels are selling for.  Wow!  Some crafty ladies are asking $20 for them!  I could do ten hours' work for $100... if they'd sell for that. Would you spend $20 for a kitchen towel??


These cute kitchen towels are relatively inexpensive gifts, especially if you have a stash of buttons and a bunch of extra trim lying around. And once you get the hang of it they don't take very long to whip up.

First of all, pick out a kitchen towel that you like, and find a coordinating fabric.  You will need a piece about 14" x 28".  Wash and dry your fabric. If it is a wrinkled mess, iron it. Fold your fabric in half, right sides together, so that when you cut out your pattern you will be cutting two identical pieces.

Here is the bodice pattern that I made. Sorry you can't read my notes very well. It is 12"x13", with the corners cut out so that the bodice is 8" across the front, and the sleeve side is 6" wide. You don't have to use these exact dimensions.  I used a canning jar lid as a pattern for the head hole, and off-set the circle about 1/2" from the center so that the finished "dress" looks like there is a front and a back. (I did not offset the neck hole for the towel/dress in the above photo.)


Cut out your bodice through both layers, and remember to cut out the circle for a neck hole.

Next, cut your towel in half and set it aside.  I found several of these nice quality Laura Ashley towels at Big!Lots! for $2.50 each.

Now take your bodice pieces and pin them together around the neck hole, matching all the sides and corners.  Sew around the neck hole using a 1/4" seam.

Clip into the seam about every 1/2", or less, so that when you turn it right side out, the circle will be nice and even and not shaped like a multi-faceted polygon.  Be careful not to cut into the stitching.

Take one of the layers, either one, and stuff it through the neck hole.

 Now lay the two pieces together nice and flat, matching the sides, and press the neck seam.

The next part is easier to show than it is to explain. Watch. 

Oops, I meant to say that the seam should be trimmed to 1/4" or 3/8". Be sure to clip into the curve, close to the stitching, just like you did with the neck seam.  Lay the bodice flat and press each seam nice and flat.

Turn up a 5/8" hem on the sleeves, turning both the bodice piece and the lining piece to the inside of the fabric, matching the edges at the fold.  Press, then top-stitch close to the edge. 


Set the bodice aside.

Now for the towel/skirt. Using your longest stitch length (basting), make a row of stitching 5/8" from the cut edge of both towel pieces, leaving several inches of both spool and bobbin thread at both ends.  Do this again 1/4" inside the first stitching line. 

You are going to gather the towel so that its width will match the width of the bodice. Anchor the bobbin threads down at one end by inserting a pin and then wrapping both threads around the pin in a figure eight. At the other end of the stitching, pull both bobbin threads together with one hand, and with the other hand slide the fabric along the thread so that the towel edge gathers.  When the towel width matches the bodice width, anchor this end of the thread the same way you did the other.

Adjust the gathers so that they are even across the top of the "skirt".  Now pin the towel to the outside front piece of the bodice, right sides together, keeping the lining clear. Set your stitch length back to normal and sew from one side seam to the other, backstitching at each end. This is easier if you have the gathers on the underside. Repeat these steps with the back pieces.

Lay the "dress" out flat so the the inside is face up. Trim the seam to 3/8" (don't cut the facing) and press it towards the bodice.  Your facing should be loose. Turn up the bottom edge of the facing 5/8" so that the pressed fold lies on the stitching line, and hand-sew it down across the bodice on the inside of the seam.



Here is how your "dress" should look now.  Sorry, I got tricky and added some eyelet to the bodice/skirt seam, and I didn't tell you how to do that.  But you can figure it out.  I have confidence in you.  

You're almost done!  Now you can decorate with trim around the neck edge, sleeves, and/or bottom of bodice.  Just stitch the trim on over the fabric, wrapping the trim ends around the back side.

The final step is to cut four pieces of 1/4" or 3/8" cross-grain ribbon to about 8", and tack one piece to each side of the front and back of the bodice. I use a bit of FrayCheck on the raw edges of the ribbon to keep it from raveling.  Snaps would be good, too, or Velcro. Use your imagination.

Hang the dress over your oven door handle and tie both sides. Voila!

Happy sewing and giving!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Best Cookies in the Whole World

I was going to make you some of these, but my family does not allow me to share them! The day before yesterday I made four dozen of our all-time, absolute favorite cookies, Chocolate Peppermint Cremes.  Yesterday we ate the last one!  Four dozen cookies divided by six people equals... eight cookies each, devoured in twenty-four hours.  It's such a shame.  But my husband and my kids argue that the point of baking cookies is not to hoard them and make them last forever -- it is to enjoy them.  Which we surely did.    Reprinting again:

Chocolate Peppermint Cremes

Combine these and set aside:
3 C flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

Beat together in separate bowl:
1 1/2 C brown sugar
3/4 C softened butter
2 T water
2 eggs

Stir in
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted. 

Stir in the dry ingredients until mixed well.  If the dough is stiff enough, roll into 1" balls and flatten each ball slightly. 
If not, refrigerate the dough until it is. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes, on greased cookie sheets.  Do not overbake these.  The centers should be soft.  Cool completely.

To make the filling, beat until smooth:
3 C powdered sugar
1/3 C butter
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
3 T + 1 tsp milk
dash of salt
1 drop of red food coloring, if you like pink. 

Spread liberally on the bottom side of a cookie, and sandwich together with a second cookie.  Makes about 48, but they don't last.  Better make a double batch!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dressy Oven Door Kitchen Towel Update

A couple of years ago I posted a tutorial (here) for making these "dressy" kitchen towels that tie over the handle of your oven door.  That page is the most often viewed on my entire blog!  There must be lots of crafty ladies the world over who are looking for instructions.  That old post really needed updating, and as I am now in the process of making another towel (See, Julie?  I am keeping my word!), I am re-photographing each step as I go along.  Since the step involving the underarm seam is difficult to explain verbally, I added a video that shows how to do it.  So... I guess the point is that in case you're interested, the old tutorial is being fixed.  Or if you want to hear what I sound like, you can just go watch the video for fun.    Hm... Someone else I know hinted that she would like another purple dressy towel.  Might have to go shopping for supplies again soon!

Sunday Only

Are you a Sunday-morning-only Christian?  What if your pastor were to take the bold approach and ask you personally the reason for your absence on Sunday evenings and at the mid-week service?  Would you be offended?  See what happened when this pastor did just that with his non-100% church members. 

Aren't people funny?  We think, "Oh, God understands..."  Yes, he sure does.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;
(for he is faithful that promised;)
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love
and to good works:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,
as the manner of some is;
but exhorting one another:
and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Webcam Willies

Do you know what this is?  It belongs to my daughter.  It is your window into my world.  My un-styled hair, my un-made-up face, the piles on my desk, the mess in my family room, the squabble between sisters in the room beyond.  It is the reason why we are now moving the furniture. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

November in Review

Here it is almost the fourth day of December already as I type. How ever did this week go by without me even thinking of my end of the month post??  Hang on tight, here we go!

You all know we live near Oatman, an old gold mining ghost town.  Oatman is right on Route 66, which has a cult following that I don't understand, and there are touristy-type businesses there -- leatherwear shops for motorcycle dudes (and dudesses), junk souvenir shops, old timey general store, etc.  Some you don't want your kids going into. Clark Gable and Carol Lombard spent their honeymoon in the local motel, which now boasts a "real" ghost.  Behind Oatman is a big quartz rock called the Elephant's Tooth, which was a sure sign to those old gold and silver miners that there was "gold in them thar hills". (And there was!  Lots of it!  There probably still is.)

Down the hill from Oatman is the home of some good homeschooling friends.  They have all sorts of knowledge about fossils, rocks, dinosaur bones, and other interesting inanimate objects, and we were invited to come out and explore the desert floor for quartz crystals (probably the babies of the Elephant's Tooth) and other treasures. Wish I'd taken some photos of the crystals.  The "keepers" are cool -- clear hexagonal finger-like things.  Word has it that there are also opals and other gemstones, but we only know what they look like in their polished forms.  Gemstone identification books aren't too helpful that way.

The girls watched some Moody science DVD's.  (Please Mom?  They're educational!)  We aren't big on movies, but we have a select few: Picture Proverbs, The  Lone Ranger, and just recently, Time Changer.  That's a good one!  A long while ago I ordered the VHS format Moody science series from LES, because they were so cheap -- $2 each! -- I could not pass them up.  Even though we don't have a TV or a video-tape player.  Was that a dumb impulse buy or what?  Could you pass them up for that price?  These DVD's were on loan from a generous friend.

We were invited to a Pampered Chef party.  I coveted, but I didn't buy anything.  I had to go for two reasons: one, because I love my friend who held the party.  And two, because Amy loves anything to do with cooking!  She got to try her hand at making baklava.  It turned out soooo good!   Thanks, Sarah!

We acquired some tennis racquets and hit some balls.  (Look at that.  Try using two "cqu" words in the same sentence!  Am I a homeschooler or what?)

Amy got up at dawn to photograph the sunrise, and settled for the moon-set instead.

We ate some really good food!

The girls made some beautiful music.  Alison practices, but the rest of them don't.  Amy plays, but she doesn't practice.  I would say she fiddles around, but that would be a better pun for a violin player, hee hee.  Just think what she could do if she would work at it!  Actually, these are Alie's hands.  I don't have any pics of her this month.  She must have been busy with NaNo.

I sewed a wild nightie for Amy.

We played in the park with some fun cousins.

We had a fun family Thanksgiving with more cousins, and pasta in the park.  (It's a lot easier to do than a turkey!)   We got home on Thursday, but my turkey was still frozen.  So we had our own immediate family celebration on Friday.  We keep a book of remembrance, in which we write each year the things we are thankful for during the previous year.  My devotional reading that day had to do with the nine lepers who didn't return to thank the Lord Jesus for healing them, and I realized I am like them! I  sure do enjoy the blessings of the Lord, as I am sure those lepers enjoyed their new cleanness.  I even remember to mention them in our book.  But did I actually thank the Lord for those blessings?  Ah, yet another revelation of my own shortcomings.  Thanking God (literally) for his longsuffering.

Monocogman climbed the mountain.  Here is a little piece of his artwork.

Kind of makes me think of this:

Kind of creepy, don't you think?  *shudders*

Otherwise this month it was school as usual... on the days we did school... why don't I just officially declare myself an unschooler and be done with the pressure?  lol!  PlainJane introduced us to Your Business Math Series, which has been a very nice break in the math routine for my two hands-on kids.  We have a book store and a pet store, both of which are making a nice profit for their student owners.  Also, finally admitting to myself that I am NOT organized enough at this time in my life to put together my own first grade curriculum for Emily, I ordered math, reading, social studies, and science Light Units from CLP.  MUCH better.  She also acquired a new tutor, her big sister, Alison.  Emily has decided school is fun after all.  Thank the Lord for sweet big sisters and for CLP!

I was asked to write a review for SpellQuizzer, which I am currently testing on Emily.  She loves it.  That review will be forthcoming.

OH, one last thing, I figured out how to make lots of money blogging. I'll have to up the rate to about $5 an hour, though.  My kids have more money than I do.

Okay, all done with "November With Amy".  I'll have to highlight one of my other kids next time!

 O give thanks unto the LORD;
for he is good:
because his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 118:1

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