Thursday, August 26, 2010

THIS is what I've been up to!

Jam making, jam making, and more jam making! Mix in some canning and I've been one busy girl! I bought bulk blueberries, cherries, tomatoes and pears from our produce co-op, Bountiful Baskets. Seriously they were unbeatable prices! I got 9 pounds of blueberries, 24 pounds of cherries, 24 pounds of tomatoes, and 36 pounds of pears.

Pear Jam...never had it but tried some out of the pot and it was de-licious!

Marinara Sauce

I made 5 pints of blueberry jam (all of which have been given away or eaten), 4 pints of blueberry pie filling, 8 pints of cherry almond jam (3 have been given away), 5 pints of cherry pie filling, 9 quarts of marinara sauce, 2 pints of salsa (not pictured for whatever reason I forgot them in the pic), 8 pints of pear jam, 4 quarts of canned pears! And there are still about 1/4 of the pears left...

Did I mention somewhere along the way I was feeling like I had missed something...I totally did! Strawberries. I missed the amazing strawberry guy at the farmers market this year. Luckily they are on sale this week at Basha's for $0.99 a pound. All of our Basha's closed awhile back so I had Walmart price match it and was surprised at the quality of strawberries they had! I got 4 pounds and made 8 pints of strawberry jam as well!

The cherry was the most time consuming! These were raw cherries, that means not pitted or stemmed I had to do it all! Luckily my Step-Mom had given me this amazing little cherry pitter! I never knew there was such a thing but it made my job significantly easier and much more efficient. Even still I spent nearly 6 hours pitting and stemming these little suckers!

The blueberry was the easiest and tastiest so far. You don't have to seed, stem, skin, or pit blueberries! Just wash, mash and cook! SOOO delicious on pancakes. This was the first batch to be made so the first to set up and be given as gifts. We gave some to our local ACE Hardware because Ms. Christine orders me random things I want/need so I don't have to drive into town, our neighbor (who traded me some peach jam), my good friend Monica (Chloe's Momma from this post), we ate 2 and are finishing up our 3rd jar! Mmmmmm... Somewhere along the way we found out Belle is allergic to blueberries :( It only took 3 days of puking after breakfast for me to get the point!

This week we got 2 kilos of mangoes from the co-op and will be working on those as well as peaches. Which are on sale at Safeway this week! When I saw a kilo of mangoes I instantly thought of a kilo of drugs?! Huh? But no...a kilo basically equates to 5 pounds so we are getting 10 pounds of mangoes! I LOVE mangoes so much and so do the girls! I am looking forward to find new and exciting ways to use them.

I am by no means a canning expert I just read the Ball Blue Book of Canning and follow the directions. Seriously follow the directions! You do NOT want your food to spoil or your family to get sick along the way.

I really enjoy canning all of these things. Some people may not, it is time consuming and kind of warm. As you generally have at least 3 burners going in the kitchen. But not only are we saving money (as we will use this throughout the year), home canned foods are more nutritious have very few preservatives in them and you KNOW what is going into it. We are big on not doing processed foods or anything we cannot pronounce. I can pronounce sugar, water, pectin and fruit!

If you are lucky enough to have a Bountiful Basket co-op in your area you should really check it out! We started getting the baskets almost a year ago and have yet to be disappointed with the amount of produce we get each week for the price! You can check out some of the hauls on my good friend Alysa's blog InspiredRD as well as a bunch of fun nutritious recipes! Just scroll down a bit, she does a post every week on what we get in our baskets here in Arizona.

I think my hubby thinks I've gone a little coo coo :) Maybe so... but at least we'll be a well fed crazy family!

Thanks to my wonderful cousin who picked the book and pot up for me! She knew this would be right up my ally. And it definitely is!

Love and Hugs,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stay! Please?!

Do you spend your dinner time chasing after a child who doesn't want to stay at the dinner table? ::raise's hand:: I do! With everything going on with Ms. Belle (see this post) it was really hard for me to let her sit at the dinner table by herself. I was never sure that she'd be safe. OK...she hasn't ever seized at the dinner table but there is a chance and I'm kind of a worrier. :( She nixed the high chair just after her first birthday and has been "sitting" at the real table with us ever since. I needed something to rein her in, keep her in her place and maybe eat a little something while she was there.

Then I remembered this little tutorial I had stumbled upon a couple months back. You can see the whole thing here. Carrie is a genius! This was just what I needed. So I whipped one up with some extra fabric I had from reupholstering these chairs. And some pink minke flat I've been hoarding. Yeah! The real stuff, not from JoAnn's (not that there is anything wrong with it) this stuff is just a bit more plush. Definitely a difference in the quality! I don't remember why I bought it but I never used it. Why not use it now?

Literally the whole thing took about an hour WITH two children doing laps around my legs! Super straight forward and instantly gratifying. I followed the tute but just changed one thing. Because I used the minke on the inside of it I needed for it to not be on the flap when I folded it over because food would get on it and it would need to be washed every other day. So I made 2 squares 10 x 11 1/4 and stitched them together using a half inch seam allowance and used that piece (half minke, half cotton covered vinyl) for the inside of the bottom flap. So it is soft on her tooshie but when you fold it over you can wipe the top half clean!

I think she likes it!

When I showed it to her and strapped her into her chair she looked up at and me and with the biggest most genuine smile on her face she said in her tiny little voice, "thank you Mommy!" As I lifted the camera to my eye I could hear the velcro ripping off. Hailey helped her escape! And off they went running and laughing as only sisters do! So I took these pics the following morning while Hailey was at school and there was no one to help her escape.

The best thing about this little high chair strap is that I can take it with me anywhere, it is machine washable and completely adjustable. You really could put any baby into it that is sitting well on their own. Thanks Carrie for this genius idea!

Love and Hugs,

PS. See that RED chair in the background of the first picture? I finally dyed the slip covers! I like the color but I'm not entirely happy with the saturation so I will need to re-dye them. Also when I was putting the second one back on the zipper popped and I can't get it to go back in so I need to take it to the cleaners and see if it is salvageable or if I need to replace the zipper.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010


So you know how I was telling you guys I get my jeans at Buffalo Exchange?! Well I was there hunting for some Big Star jeans the other day and found these amazing patterns (along with several vintage dresses)!

Seriously these patterns are totally classic! The kicker?! They were only $5! For a vintage pattern?! I don't think they knew what they had! So I grabbed the ones that I thought I would wear if I got around to making them!

This Vogue Paris Original pattern designed by Nina Ricci and retails anywhere from $55-$150! Nina Ricci now designs for Bergdorf Goodman! After some research I found out this pattern is from the 1970s. You gotta love the internet! This pattern looks to be a classic coat and living in Arizona I only have one "heavy" coat that the rest of the world would probably laugh at because it really isn't that heavy. It does have 3/4 length sleeves that I think I will extend to make it a real coat. Not sure what color yet maybe a candy apple red that would be nice.

This Vogue Americana pattern is designed by Chester Weinberg. I couldn't find exactly when it was printed but it was in the same batch as the other two. I found another pattern numbered 1929 that was printed in the 70s. I can only guess that they were numbered consecutively. Looks to be around the same time! This is probably my favorite pattern of all I love that square cut armhole and I've never seen anything like it! This will be at the top of my list once I find some awesome fabric! I'm thinking bright yellow below the belt and a vertical stripe of grey and white on top. I'm thinking a jersey kind of fabric so it flows a little nicer this looks to be polyester or wool of some sort and I want it to drape a bit better and not be so rigid.

This Vogue Couturier Design is designed by Belinda Bellville. Again I couldn't find exactly when it was printed but it looks to be from the 1970s as well! It is a misses one piece dress and pants. I think it is really cool looking. I'd probably only make the dress and I'm thinking nautical style. Like red white horizontal strips as the undershirt part with a navy blue outer coat!

I am totally going to make all 3 of them!

I found most of my information on so vintage patterns. I also found a great link on there about vintage sizing here. My patterns are size 14, 10, and 12. Which basically equate to 6, 2, and 4! Apparently vintage patterns are sized differently?! Who knew! I am about a 4 so there probably wont even be a ton of resizing to do. But I will measure myself just to be sure. Since all the patterns have a measurement chart to help you decide what size to make! There are excellent resizing instructions here just in case!

I'm off to Buffalo again to see if they have any of the patterns left, for the simple reason that I just like to look at them! Even if I never use them, might be fun to have!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm obsessed with jeans!

So I guess this would be considered a "not fun tutorial". This is not fun sewing per se, rather sewing that needs to be done. I have a stack of 3 pairs of jeans I've gotten for super good deals but can't wear them because they haven't been hemmed.

I thought everyone deserved to know how to hem their pants without loosing the original decorative hem. I use this technique on jeans because I am obsessed with nice well fitting jeans. But I am sure you could use it on any pants you want hemmed or even shorts that are too long. OR pants that are too short that you wanted to make into capris or bermuda shorts. Since I am only about 5'3 I have to hem everything. I can't stand stepping on the backs of my jeans! For the longest time I would just cut off the bottom and make a double fold and stitch down. While this was easy it never gave me the same look that the original hem had. And to be honest that kind of bugged me!

Then one day my hubby bought an expensive pair of jeans at the highly coveted store Buckle and had their seamstress hem them for him. I guess when you spend a small fortune on jeans they hem them for you for free! (I get my jeans at Buffalo Exchange for a fraction of the cost! ha!) At first I was a little hurt about it. I mean come on I can hem a pair of jeans! Then he told me she was going to leave the original hem on them. I was intrigued! I thought how on earth can you cut a chunk out of the length of a pair of jeans, use the original hem AND make them look nice?! Well she did it! And now I've got his to look at and figure out exactly how she did it.

This is what I came up with. I am by no means a professional seamstress and I just kind of fly by the seat of my pants when I sew but it works for me! And I know it'll work for you too as long as you keep these simple guidelines in mind.

1. Measure twice cut once!

2. Try them on before you cut more off!

Just ignore my unpolished toe nails! I seriously need a pedicure...

Start by trying on your jeans. I cuff mine up at where I would like them to hit.

Then take them off and measure the amount you cuffed upward. Be sure to include the original hem in this measurement! I needed to take 4 3/4 inches off. Take that number and divide it by 2.

So I needed to make it about 2 2/3. You do this because your fabric is doubled over therefore doubling whatever measurement. So yes you are sewing at 2 2/3  but there is another 2 2/3 on the back so there is your 4 3/4 inches.Only measure up to the original hem line. Do NOT include the hem in your measurement. You dont want to take any of that off!

Pin your cuff and stitch down. I usually iron the cuff so that it stays put nicely and only pin at the side seams being sure that the lines match up!

Be careful and use the inside hem as a guideline. I used a zipper foot so that I could get right up to that hem line.

See that bright blue line? That is my stitching. The closer the better but not actually on the hem!

Press your seams down and try them on! Are they the right length?

YES! Then we can serge or zig zag stitch the excess off. If not then rip the seam and try again taking them up a touch more.

Now lets get rid of that little serged tail! If you just cut it off it will eventually unravel...not fun!

Take a yarn needle or a needle with a large eye and push it through your serge.

Now stick your tail through the eye of the needle.

Finally pull the tail through the serge and trim the excess. I try to pull it through at least an inch sometimes more. It just depends on how tight the serge is!

After you have serged or zig zaged and cut the excess off then you have a couple choices. My husbands pants were topstitched back down using a thread that matched his jean color. This is probably the most secure way of finishing these.

See! Barely noticeable from a distance! I mean yes up close you can see that they have been hemmed. Honestly who is looking at your hems all day? Your kids and they really don't care!

You could also lay a strip of 1/2 inch stitch witchery between the excess serged edge (folded upward) and the jeans. Then iron down really well!

OR I suppose you could just leave it the way it is and push the excess up into the jean when you lay them out to dry. But you might have to iron them every time you washed them and that might get kind of irritating!

I used two pairs of jeans to take pictures of while doing this tutorial. The first pair was a really dark wash and you could barely see the stitching in any of the pictures. So I just used the best pictures for each of the steps. All in all it took about half an hour to hem 2 pairs of jeans!

Ok! Now go hem all of your jeans in preparation for fall! Even though I wear them year round in 100+ Arizona heat!

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