Friday, June 27, 2014

Confession #45: I have too much food in my house

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After rent, food is the next most expensive...well expense. I like to think I do agood job on keeping a reasonable food budget. We don't eat out, much. I buy seasonal produce. I try to make most things from scratch. But even so, food is expensive. And it's no secret that we are tight on money right now. With my husband back and school and me only nannying. So I'm always looking for ways to cut back.
One such way came to me while looking at what I already had in my kitchen. I always find myself saying "I have nothing to eat" but really when I take a good look at what I do have, I have a lot. In fact when I plugged all the food I already have in my panty to an online recipe site, it said I can make over 16,000 recipes. Granted most of them were desserts but still, impressive.
So here's my self induced challenge: eat what I already have without buying a single processed non parrishable item.

The rules:
I can't buy: bread, non parrishable food, pre processed food, beans, rice, pasta,  junk food, or pretty much anything that is in the inner aisle of a grocery store.
I can buy: fruits, veggies, dairy, meat, eggs, and nuts.
When: now until the end of summer or longer if my pantry isn't empty by than.

I will be posting photos and recipes as I go.
And with all that money savings I'll be able to by some socks for my barefeet!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Confession #44: Growing Mushrooms in My Kitchen (On Purpose)

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I LOVE mushrooms. All kinds. I just love them. And since moving to a big city, I love the different varieties you can find in the stores here. But I have always longed to grow them on my own. I recently had the opportunity, something I hope to do time and time again.
Here is my journey into the mushroom world.

First off, mushrooms grow super fast. 10 days to be exact! No wonder it seems like they pop up in your yard over night.

Secondly, they are extremely easy to grow. Once you buy a log, box, or whatever kit you buy there is hardly anything you need to do to maintain the mushrooms. Just a few light mists a day, and your mushrooms will grow happy and healthy. And ready to pick in no time.

I took a picture of my mushrooms every day for 10 days. Sometimes it seemed that they would grow bigger after just a few hours. Crazy! And Fascinating!

Day 1-5
Day 6-10
The last photo is after I clipped the mushrooms. The cool thing about this box is that after I harvested the mushrooms, I got to flip the box over and grow the other side.

The next three photos show my harvest and my dinner!

These mushrooms were fantastic. And knowing I grew them made them all the better. I hope you try your hand at growing something this Spring.

Kick off your shoes and roll up your sleeves. Cheers

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Confession #43: Fun with food; Bento Boxes

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Cute little Totoro Bento Box

Every mom will have to pack lunches for their kids at sometime or another. Most moms will spend everyday preparing a packed lunch. My thought; why does it have to be boring? Food should be fun. Kids like colors. Food should be colorful. Kids love variety. Food has endless possibilities. Kids love surprises. Bento boxes, always have surprises.
So I have been packing lots of bento boxes for my daughter. If you are new to the bento box world or if you just want some ideas.

I like to wrap my bento boxes in cloth napkins. Simple, handy, and it looks

nice. Our community had a tie dye party and I took a set of Ikea napkins and went to work.
You will need a few containers, and some dividers. The container doesn't matter really. I like to use short square containers (like the ones used for sandwiches). I was given some bento box rubber containers from my sister. But I have also seen people use the silicone muffin liners. the reusable kind. There are plenty of great gadgets out there if you get into it. But first start simple. here's a few of my fun bento tools.

Fun rice and egg molds. Click HERE to find out how to use them.

I fond these at a dollar store and they work great with bento box lunches and working on fine motor skills.

From top left: Little sauce containers with pink funnel and stand, four small fruit and veggie cutters, little silicone separators.

Silicone dividers. There are tons out there. I found a 6 pack of silicone muffin liners at the dollar store.

Cookie cutters. I find that small to medium ones work the best. Also sandwich cutters work well.
Another reason I like bento boxes is because I get to use up my leftovers. If I only have a few pieces of cheese, a handful of blueberries, some raisins, and a cracker. I have a bento box! You think you don't have enough stuff to make your kids lunch? Think again. Its Bento Time
I like to prep a little ahead of time. I get all the fruit, veggies and other items that can be prepped ahead of time out of the way.

Bento Boxes might be adorable but they leave a lot behind. Some might just toss it but instead I consider it to be the perfect lunch for a mom who doesn't mind a little weird looking lunch.

Fun shaped food. This one was for Valentines Day.
I love fun with food.

Bento 1: cheese, raspberries, meat cubes, pretzels, oranges, beans, strawberries, crackers, celery, carrots, mushrooms

Cheese crackers, cheese, mushrooms, apples, sweet potato, carrot, pretzels, and meat

nuts, blueberries, raisins, craisins, crackers, carrots, and cheese

meat, orange, apple sauce, carrots, nuts, cheese, egg, snap peas, celery, crackers, dried fruit, cucumber

muffin, pretzels, cuts, dried fruit, snap peas, pineapple, strawberries, celery, cheese, apple, carrot, grapes, cereal, mushroom

fruit, crackers, cookies, cheese, meat, beans, carrots, raisins, nuts and grapes

apple sauce, orange, crackers, nuts, cheese sandwiches, beans, carrot, nuts.

Spider sandwiches. Crackers, hummus (can use peanut butter), raisins and pretzels but in half.
With a little prep work you can add in some fun other items into your bento boxes.

Homemade dried fruit roll ups

Fruit roll ups fresh out of the oven. Pureed fruit and place in dehydrator over night.

I hope this has inspired you to go out and make some bentos. Kids LOVE them. And since Easter is coming. Try using egg cartons instead of bento containers.
Check out my pinterest for even more ideas
Have fun. Play with your food. And kick off those shoes.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Confession #42: Aprons make geat summer dresses

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I recently decided my craft closet needed a good once over and in doing so I came face to face with all my unfinished projects. I decided to focus on finishing them before starting anything new. Which is really hard because I just picked up some super cute fabric from my local thrift store.
Simple apron
Among one of the unfinished projects was an apron I purchased at said thrift store over a year ago. With the intent of turning it into a summer dress for my daughter. Well, I am happy to report, such project it finally finished.
It turned out to be a rather easy sew. I had no pattern, I just had to wing it. But sometimes that makes the best stuff. I was so excited about this project that I failed to take any photos of the actually process. But I am going to try to recreate it for you the best I can.
I started with a simple apron like the one pictured to the right.  

I first cut off the long ties (but save them you will use them!). I sewed the two sides of the apron together but leave a 3 or 4 inch gap at the top so you can add buttons or a zipper.

I then finished the gap with coordinating bias tape. and a cute button with elastic. I decided to go this route because: a. I'm scared of button holes and b. the dress was a little snug and this added just the extra give that it needed.

Next up I cut one of the apron ties in half and used that for both the dresses straps.

I than stuffed the remanding strap with thick elastic and sewed it tight to make a headband.

I looked up some ideas for making flowers and found this great tutorial. I used red fabric that I had on hand (make sure you use something that doesn't fray). I added a flower to both the dress and the headband. I also added a little red bias tape to line the pocket the apron came with. I thought it made the dress stand out a bit.
My intention is to make a pair of matching red leggings for this outfit. But I promised myself I wouldn't start anything new until I finish all the other projects. So those leggings will have to wait.

Don't mind the hair, she "fixed" it
I think this turned out great. It took me less than 2 hours to do the dress (including making the flowers). My daughter was excited because we made it during her brothers naptime. And she got to help! I love having her be a part of the process.

So keep your eye out for cute aprons, because where there once was an apron, there could be an adorable dress.
I love her funny faces

There's nothing better than running in a flowing dress. Except maybe doing it barefoot.

Now for some unfinished stuffed turtles.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Confession #41: I love patterns! EYMM Kenzie's Party Dress

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My husband's little brother is getting married next month and my daughter was asked to be the flower girl. My first thought was: I get to make a flower girl dress! I checked with the bride-to-be for the colors: meadow green, silver and white. The dress that came to mind was a dress my daughter was given back when she was just a baby. It had tulle, rose petals and a big bow on the back. It would have been the prefect flower girl dress. But it also made a wonderful first Easter dress.
Liana's first Easter, and the inspiration for the flower girl dress. 
Adorable, right? So, I had the dress idea I wanted. I just needed a pattern to put my idea in action. And a the perfect pattern presented itself. Kymy over at Everything Your Mama Made and More was looking for people to participate in a blog tour of her Kenzie's Party Dress. This is the dress Kymy came up with for her fifth and final child's first birthday. It is super cute and looked like the perfect dress pattern for me to adapt for the flower girl dress.
Photo by EverythingYourMamaMade&More
I know that I want to make a dress just like the photo above for my daughter someday (who wouldn't?) but for now I needed to focus ...
I bought the pattern (you can too, click here), gathered the material, and set to work. I chose a material that had a little stretch (part spandex) for the top. I bought some tulle off amazon, and loose rose petals from the wedding section of Jo-Ann Fabric. The bride-to-be provided me a sash with a big bow so that her dress will match perfectly with the bridesmaids. 
I have to stop and be honest right now. Although I consider myself a sewer, I don't really know anything. I am self-taught, I rarely follow patterns and I tend to stay in my comfort zone. But as the maker of this pattern recently told me, "going out of your comfort zone is often how you learn new things." So with that in mind, this pattern is intermediate. It uses sewing terms, techniques and ideas that I had to search for (actually, there are links right on the pattern to answer most of your sewing questions). 
So I read through the pattern, got out of my comfort zone and got to work. Right after pouring a glass of wine. That helps me think. 
This pattern was a lot of fun to do. I learned a lot of techniques that I am excited to use in future sewing adventures. The pattern comes with 4 different ways to complete the outfit: 2 skirt options and 2 dress options. I followed the pattern for the top of the dress but had to get creative in order to add tulle to the bottom. Tulle is probably the most frustrating thing I have ever dealt with so I gave up for a bit and made this dress and pants set for my daughter as a quick distraction. I ended up making her dolls matching dresses too. 

Focus, Vanessa!

Back to the tulle. I finally kicked the tulle's butt into gear and used every pin I owned to pin it into place. A quick sew attached the top to the bottom. And Boom! Done!!
This dress called for button holes, but that was a little too out of my comfort zone. Baby steps. So I ended up adding Velcro instead and sewing on fake buttons just to make it look cute. They are actually covered up by the bow anyway. I didn't attach the bow. Instead I just tie the bow around the waist and it stays. This way when I use this dress for Easter after the wedding I can change the sash to any color she wants. 

I sewed this at night, long after my daughter had drifted off into dream land, so I had to wait until morning to see her in it. Fingers crossed it fits...

And it was totally worth the wait. The best part: my daughter telling everyone she sees that her mommy made her a flower girl princess dress. 

I love the faces she makes when I ask her to act "natural"

Love this face, even if her hair is a mess

The back of the dress

This photo shows off the lining of the dress

Made her a matching hairband from extra tulle and rose petals

This is the part where her brother tries to
get into the photo and eat her hair bow

Thank you Kymy for letting me join in on this wonderful blog tour and providing the world with this amazing versatile pattern. Check out the rest of the blog posts and dates to come. No shoes required. 
Buy this pattern here and here


2/18 bebelambs