Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Embroidering Stems and Lazy Daisies

I come from a long line of fabric artists. My grandfather could reproduce any item of clothing he saw, my grandmother and great grandmother were amazing embroidery artist and could make beautiful dolls all by hand. I was introduced to sewing at the age of 8 and have since learned to embroider. My favorite way to spend my free time making quilts, clothes, costumes and embroidering items. Here is a quick tutorial on how to easily embroider a running stem pattern with lazy daisies. 

I used these stitches to embroider a cloak when my daughter wanted to be Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween. These two stitches will get you the biggest bang for your buck, they are easy to accomplish and come out beautifully.

When embroidering you need a few key items. 
Cloth to embroider, cotton cloth is preferable.

****Tip: You can embroider satin, sateen, and silk but they require quite a bit of patience and a delicate hand.**** 

When learning how to embroider or learning a new stitch it is best to keep fabric squares on hand so you can perfect your stitching technique before you use more expensive fabric. I prefer to use embroidery squares. They are easy to practice on and are fairly inexpensive. 

Lets get started!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Meal Planning

Everyone has to eat, right? I grew up in a large family full of boys and my mother really had to stretch every dollar to be able to keep us all fed, clothed and have money for our home, hobbies and activities. When my Hubby and I got married we were poor college students and we were forced to find ways to make our money stretch for our food budget as well. My childhood growing up seeing my mother budget for groceries and then my own experience as a young wife has lead me to develop an easy to follow and well rounded way to plan your meals that is budget friendly. 

First I start out with a calendar, I go online and find a calendar that I think is cute and print it on my home printer. Calendarlabs.com is a great resource for free printable calendars. I mark out the dates that I will be buying groceries this can be based on when you get paid or when you have time. Make sure to mark out any special meals you will be having such as holidays, birthdays or nights out. This ensures you will buy just the right amount of food. 

I plan my meals for a week to 10 days at a time, even up to 2 weeks around the holidays so I can avoid long lines and packed stores. And, I set a weekly budget, which is capped at $120 for the three of us. Now you can spend much less but it takes work to gather coupons and other discounts. I wish I could coupon but I don't have the time or patience to do it so my meal planning and budgeting is the best I can do for my family right now. Maybe one day I will learn and actually try couponing. 

Now first things first, plan your meals, put foods you like and don't be afraid to make a large meal and eat it for leftovers the next day. For example, I will make Crock-Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup and we will eat the leftovers the next night

Once you have made your meal plan for the next week, you can make your grocery list. I always start with the basics, milk, bread, juice. Then I go through the calendar and write the ingredients I need for each meal. Now when you plan meals there will be things that you already have. I buy ground beef in bulk, so when I meal plan I do not need to buy ground beef. 

My grocery list will look like this:

Now when you buy groceries try not to buy prepackaged foods, they are more expensive than their individual ingredients. It doesn't take too much more time to make meals from scratch and it also will taste so much better. 

****Tip: I purchase my meats from a grocery store's meat department. There are two grocery chains near my home and they generally switch off on meat sales. I can usually pick boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.99 or less as compared to most prepackaged chicken breasts that sells for $2.50 or more a pound.****

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Crock-Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

It is the tail end of winter here in Texas, which means very little considering we have been seeing 75-80 degree weather for several weeks. However, we are lucky enough to get a few spurts of cold weather here and there. These cold spurts make for fun meal planning because I like to make my husband a good dinner but when it is hot he does not want soup on the menu. This week we were lucky enough to get a good rainy cloudy couple of days that brought the temperature down just enough that I was able to sneak in of one of my favorite soups!

Chicken Tortilla soup is delicious and is actually quite easy to make with the right recipe, plus if you have a cold a little pepper and chili can clear out those sinuses while filling your tummy. 


1 boneless skin-less chicken breast
1 14.5oz can petit diced tomatoes
1 15.5 oz can black beans
1 10oz can green chile enchilada sauce
1 4oz can chopped green chilies
1 10oz bag of Steamfresh corn
1 small onion chopped
1tablespoon Garlic salt
2 tablespoons Caldo de Tomate
1/2 tablespoon Cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons Chili powder
4 cups of water
Shredded taco cheese
Tortilla chips

I used my 2 quart Crock-Pot for the soup because it would be too warm for us to have soup again the next day. When it is cold I bring out my 8 quart Crock-Pot and scale the recipe up because this soup is a leftover favorite.

Place your chicken at the bottom of your Crock-Pot.

Dice your onion and drain the black beans before adding to the Crock-Pot.
Next, add corn, tomatoes, chopped green chilies, and enchilada sauce.

Now to season your soup! Add 2 tablespoons of garlic salt.

 2 tablespoons chili powder.

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)

 3 tablespoons Caldo de Tomate

Add the water and stir the ingredients making sure to keep the chicken at the bottom of the pot. 
Cook on high for 6 hours.

At 6 hours of cook time take out the chicken breast and shred it with a fork. It will be very tender and shred easily, add the chicken back into the Crock-Pot and let cook for another 10 minutes. 

This soup tastes and smells amazing and is even better with cheddar-jack cheese and tortilla chips! The Hubby usually enjoys 2 bowls before he can stop himself. So the next time you find yourself needing something warm and comforting throw this in the Crock-Pot, I promise it will not disappoint!

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Day of Dinosaur Activities!

What kid doesn't love dinosaurs? Bug thinks dinosaurs are the coolest the only things that surpass dinosaurs are unicorns. She has been begging for a dinosaur themed lesson for weeks and we recently got our fossil learning kit in the mail so I figured now is the best time to jump on the dinosaur bandwagon and do some Dino themed activities.

Fossil Impressions

We attend the museum every other month and Bug wanted to make her own fossils. We used air dry modeling clay for this activity you can find it here on Amazon.com however, play dough works just as well. We took about 4 oz of air dry clay and used our dollar store dinosaurs.

First lay down a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap. The reason we are doing this is so the modeling clay or play dough doesn't stick to the surface you are working on. If your child is especially excited about squishing the clay or dough flat then it will stick to the surface you are working on and make a gummy sticky mess.

Tape wax paper down so it stays in place.

Now take the modeling clay and flatten it out into a 1/2 inch thick layer.

Using a plastic dinosaur gently lay the dinosaur down and apply pressure. Do not push too hard or the clay may squish out from under the dinosaur and ruin the impression you are trying to make.

You can also use the feet to show how foot prints are made!

Let your clay dry in a warm spot, we use a window sill in the kitchen because our cat would sit on it and then it would be a Dino/cat fossil.

Fossil Layer Pie

This activity will help your little ones understand how sediment layers and creates fossils.

You will need sprinkles, graham crackers, butter, sugar, instant pudding, milk, whipped cream or whipped topping. You can purchase all these items here on Amazon Fresh!

First make a pie crust:

1 package of graham crackers
2 table spoons butter
1 table spoon sugar

Crust graham crackers, add sugar and mix. Add butter and mix. Press into a pie pan


If you are pressed for time you can buy a pre-made graham cracker pie crust.

Next mix a box of your favorite instant pudding according to the directions on the box.

Take the graham cracker pie crust and let your little scientist pour sprinkles on it.

Explain that the sprinkles represent the matter that is trapped in the fossil layers. I.E. leaves, sticks, animals etc.

Now pour the pudding on top of the sprinkles.

This represents mud and sediment.

Now cover the top with whipped cream/ whipped topping. (adding the final layer of sediment)

Let the pie chill and then serve for dessert, as they get ready to eat it point out the layers of the pie and discuss how over time they harden to form rock and that is how we get fossils.

Plaster Cast Fossil Molds

Our last activity is to create a plaster cast of a dinosaur impression.

You will need plaster powder, a small plastic bowl, disposable cup, craft stick, small dinosaur toy, sand and water.

First place sand in your bowl, we are using a small bowl so we only needed 2 table spoons of sand.

Add 1/2 tablespoon water, and mix so sand is wet and clumpy.

Flatten sand out using your finger.

Place dinosaur toy into bowl and press down into sand to create an impression of the toy.

Gently lift the dinosaur out of the sand so the impression stays intact. Now mix your plaster using your craft stick and disposable cup, mix 2 tablespoons to 1/2 tablespoon of water or 2 to 1/2 ratio.

Pour the plaster into the sand mold.

Let stand until firm, you may need to pour excess water off of the mold.

These three activities are definite crowd pleasers, you can also include dinosaur facts and a matching game to deepen your little one's understanding and knowledge base.

What kind of Dino themed activities do you like?

Follow this blog for more home school ideas!

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Perfect Waffle Batter

My family, just like any other, has busy days and slow days. Busy days are particularly hard on me when it comes to getting everything done and making dinner. Luckily, for those super busy days my fall back meal is breakfast for dinner. I believe there is nothing better than eggs, bacon, fried potatoes, toast and orange juice! I grew up eating these staples every morning, my husband however grew up on a slightly different version of breakfast. His family isn't big on toast and fried potatoes so they would have pancakes. As newlyweds my husband would try to impress me with his pancake making skills. He was so sweet and he does make good pancakes, I just don't like pancakes. Fast forward a couple of years into our marriage and we had found the perfect compromise by having waffles instead of potatoes or pancakes. We discovered that I can have yummy chocolate-y Nutella on my waffles and he can have his syrup. It is the best of both worlds!

It took lots of trial and error but I found the perfect waffle recipe and I want to share it with you.

This recipe makes 4 large Belgium style waffles in my 10 inch round waffle iron.

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
3 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups milk

Turn that waffle iron on so it is good and hot by the time you are finished mixing!

Place flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl and whisk together.

Dry Ingredients

Whisk in half of the milk (adding all the milk at once will have the undesirable effect of milk sloshing out of the mixing bowl while you or your mixer stirs the batter)

Batter will be thick at this point

Add eggs and oil mix thoroughly

Starting to mix

Eggs and oil fully incorporated

Add remaining milk and whisk for 1 minute.

Batter will be on the thin side once fully mixed

For immediate tasty waffles pour or ladle batter into your waffle iron that has been generously sprayed with cooking spray.

The batter also stores well for about 3 days when put in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

You can also mix all the dry ingredients ahead of time and put them in a freezer bag to be stored in the freezer, then simply write the rest of the recipe on the bag for easy meals later on.

These tasty treats can be served with Nutella, butter and syrup, berries and whipped cream or any other way that pleases your palate.

What are some of your favorite toppings?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Adorable Baby Burp Cloths

Yesterday I showed you how to make receiving blankets and I promised I would show you how to make adorable burp cloths to finish the set. Today we are going to use an adorable truck fabric !

We discussed picking fabric in my previous post, check here if you haven't already see my suggestions.

When making baby burp cloths you use a significantly smaller cut of fabric than with the receiving blankets. I usually use the left over pieces of fabric I have from cutting the blankets to make these cute and absolutely necessary items. 

First, start with a folded piece of the print flannel. You will cut this piece down to 14 inches x 10 inches. (14 inches is a good length to cover a shoulder and part of a back while 10 inches is wide enough to cover the shoulder from neck to arm) Your fabric piece should be large enough for you to cut 2 sets of print flannel cut out. Cut the fabric 14 inches long and the width will be wide enough to allow you to cut two 10 inch wide burp cloths. 

Lay out your fabric and cut it 14 in long

14x10 inch pieces

Repeat this process on the solid color flannel. 

At this point you should have 8 pieces of flannel cut. 

Take a cup and round the corners off either by using your rotary cutter or marking the fabric with a marking pen and then rounding the corner with scissors.

Use the remaining fabric left over from cutting out the burp cloths pieces to make binding strips for the edges of the burp cloths. Cut 2- 2 inch wide strips.  (I prefer to use the solid color flannel for the binding)

Now you will layer the fabric for the burp cloths. You will use 4 pieces per burp cloth, I like to put the print on one side and the solid on the other.

Once the pieces are layered line up the edges and use your ruler to draw 2 straight lines 1 1/2 inches on either side of the center of the burp cloths. These lines once stitched will hold the layers of fabric together and stabilize the burp cloth.

Stitch along the lines that you have drawn.

Now place one edge of the binding strip on the edge of the back side of the burp cloth, you will place it so the width of the strip is laying towards the inside of the burp cloth. 

Begin stitching 1 inch away from the end of your binding strip, you should have a one inch tail left free from stitching. This will allow you to fold the strip over when finishing. Stitch the binding strip down with a 3/8 of an inch seam. As with the blankets start in the middle of the bottom side of the cloth.

Over lap the free ends of the binding once you have stitched around the entire cloth.

Once finished the first stitch of the binding will look like this.

Turn the binding over the edge of the burp cloth.

Fold the edge of the binding under and stitch it down with a 3/8 of and inch seam.

Stitching rounded corner.

Trim the thread left from your starting and finishing stitches and you are done!

These adorable burp cloths are a great way to get the most out of your fabric purchase and are perfect to complete a set of baby essentials. Congrats you are now well versed at making baby burp cloths! You will now have a perfect present for the new mom and dad and of course the little bundle of joy. 

Here is a photo of the matching burp cloths for the Mermaid print I used yesterday, just in case you were wondering how they came out.