Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Cut off.

That's how I feel right now...

My main computer, a laptop, fried last week. It literally over heated. I almost, literally, threw it out the window. Don't worry I didn't. And don't worry about all my important information because it is stored on a server, so nothing was lost. Except my sanity. *Sigh*

I have a back-up computer, although it's not a laptop and isn't in an area in our house that's conducive to writing or children. Not only that but it runs on an older browser which won't open things and runs really slowly and I can't get the new version and and and...  it's a long story which I won't bore you with!

My husband's orders were also extended by 2 weeks and he won't be home for about 3 more weeks now. Which means... limited computer time for me and no blogs for you! Sorry. :( Trust me, it makes me sad too!

I keep telling myself that this is all just a blessing in disguise... a very good one...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Playing Dress Up

Sometimes, I like to play dress up too!

A long while ago I made 3 dresses in a Swing Era style. The dresses called for an invisible zipper to be put in which required a special sewing machine foot. I began searching for it but then I got sidetracked and never found it or finished the dresses.

Not that long ago I pulled the dresses back out and decided to finish putting in the zippers even though I didn't have the sewing machine foot that I needed. In 2 days I put in the zippers and hemmed the 3 dresses. The charcoal gray dress was shortened to knee length and the red and cream dresses were left at mid-calf length.

I love these dresses! They are very feminine, modest, and comfortable. They tie at the back, have a zipper under the left arm at the waist, and the bodice crosses in the front which can be pinned high or low with a pretty, decorative pin.

I would love to carry these in my shop and would be happy to take requests. If you are interested you can email me at heathers_custom_sewing@yahoo.com. I have sizes for 6 all the way up to 26. Please, email me for specific sizes and measurements. I am asking $65, which I believe to be reasonable for a custom made dress. If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments don't hesitate to contact me!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bulk Cooking- Mashed Potatoes

I wasn't really taught how to cook. I mean, I got to stir the gravy for Thanksgiving dinner and bake cookies to my hearts content but I wasn't ever really taught how to cook, let alone how to cook in bulk to make things easier for me.

For our family, having me be a stay at home wife and mother means we can't eat out every day of the week. We might eat out once or twice a month. But eating at home has opened up a new avenue to me that I never knew was there before. I've had many trials and errors in the kitchen. My poor family! I am getting better though and I hope I can pass on some of my knowledge here. I've learned so much from the internet!

Long ago, I learned that homemade mashed potatoes were much tastier then the boxed flaky version. The problem was that I didn't have the time or energy to peel, cook, or mash potatoes every time we wanted them. That's a lot of work hence the boxed version for convenience. I knew that you could buy frozen mashed potatoes but for the price they aren't for a family on a budget! Instead, when I was learning about freezer cooking I came across a homemade mashed potato frozen version.

It's very simple!

Just peel, cube, and cook a whole bag of potatoes.

After they are cooked, drain the water and mash them. I used my Kitchenaid Mixer and I added sea salt and a whole stick of butter.

When it's all mashed scoop some into your muffin tins and freeze overnight or for 24 hours.

Don't forget to have a taste too. That's the best part about cooking, right? Mmmmmm…….

After that pop them out and put them into a freezer bag. Each muffin cup size of mashed potatoes is about a serving size.

When we want some, I'll pull out about 6, put them in a microwave safe bowl and microwave them for 2 minute intervals, stirring in between, until hot. These are much tastier, I've done less work, and we are still able to eat homemade by mom!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cardigan Further Progress

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a cardigan I was making for myself.

The week before last didn't see much progress on it because of fall cleaning and 1st birthday preparations for my little guy. Last week, however, I did get some work put into it. I've now completed the back and both front portions, hidden the ends, and sewed the shoulder seams together. I'm now working on the sleeves.

I do believe I'm going to have to buy another ball of yarn though so I can make both sleeves and finish the trimming. No biggie, I just thought I'd have enough! (This means a trip to the store! My favorite place...)

I should set a completion goal for myself. How does 2 weeks sound? Sounds good to me! A more experienced crocheter would probably have had this done 4 weeks ago. Oh, but life, you never know what curve ball it will throw you! Anyways, Here are some photos & now I better get to work on those sleeves...

On a side note, at the urging of some friends, I put some clothes on my dressform. What do you think? (I know these aren't the best photos and you can't see the skirt, but I was just trying to show off the cardigan.) She's wearing my favorite outfit because it no longer fits my post-pregnancy body. Someday, it will again. Someday. Like in a million years...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Canning 101- Strawberry Jam

The last time I tried making strawberry jam was a failure but this time I tried a new recipe and it turned out much better! You can see the full recipe I used this time at the very bottom.

I began with 2 flats of strawberries. I got these as left-overs from a local food bank. They were *very* past their due date and about half of them went out the door.

I was left with this nice bowl full though! I put these in the frig over night because I ran out of time to make the jam and can it.

The next day I prepared my equipment. The clean jars were put in my water bath canner and heated up and the lids were put in a little sauce pan to heat up. It's important to not boil the water, especially the lids as it'll ruin the seal, just heat it up so it's steamy.

While the lids and jars are heating up, Ian and I got to work on the strawberries. We crushed 8 cups of strawberries. To measure them properly, mash them then measure them and pour them into your cook pot.

After that we mixed in 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1 package of powdered pectin. We then brought the strawberry mixture to a boil.

Once the strawberries are boiling pour in 7 cups of sugar and stir until dissolved. We pre-measured what we needed. Sure is a lot!

Bring the strawberry mixture to a boil once more. Once it has reached a rolling boil, one that you can't stir down again, cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat off and skim the foam.

Once the foam is skimmed you or your helper might like to taste test it. This is one of the best parts.

Now that the jelly is ready and still hot, lift out 1 jar at a time from the water bath canner, fill them- leaving 1/4 inch headspace, clean the jar rims with a clean damp wash cloth, place the lids on, screw the band on until fingertip tight, and replace back in the water bath canner.

Lower the jars into the water, make sure you have 1 to 2 inches of water covering the jars. Place the lid on the canner and bring to a full boil. Begin processing time once it's reached a full rolling boil. Process of 10 minutes.

When processing is done turn the heat off and let stand for a few minutes. Then remove the jars to a clean dry towel and let sit for 12 to 24 hours to cool. Once cool remove the rings and clean any sticky off. Check for a good seal by pressing on the center of each lid if the lid is pulled down and doesn't flex then the seal is good. If not, the jars needs to be used immediately or put in the freezer. Store the jars in a cool, dry place. Don’t forget to label and date your yummy new strawberry jam too!

Strawberry Jam (from the Ball Blue Book guide to preserving)


  • 2 quarts crushed strawberries (8 cups)
  • 1 package powdered pectin
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 7 cups sugar


Wash strawberries; drain. Remove stems. Crush strawberries one layer at a time. Combine strawberries, powdered pectin and lemon juice in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Garden Bouquet Quilt: Month 23- Leaf Quilting Design

In readiness for the quilting Nancy had the quilting frames set up in her guest room. She was not expecting company for a week or two so the room would not e occupied and the frames could remain in place.

She had purchased some heavy pins for pinning quilt to frame, some “between” needles for quilting, large spools of number 60 white thread, a wool batt for interlining.

White gingham of the same quality as she used on top of the quilt was seamed to make a large piece measuring 90 by 108. This was, of course, the same size as the top of the quilt.

The pieced bottom was pinned to frame first. This was placed with right side toward the floor and the wrong side uppermost.

The batt was unrolled and spread evenly across the top. Nancy could have used Canton flannel, but this doesn’t give the puffy appearance to the finished quilt that a batt of cotton or wool does.

The wrong, or seamed side, of the top of the quilt was now laid on the padding. This top was carefully stretched and pinned in place. The strip of strong unbleached muslin which had been tacked to the frames was the material into which the pins were inserted.

And now came the marking.

Here are some of the ideas the club members had. First, it was understood that each pieced and appliquéd block would be quilted by using fine quilting stitches around the entire outline. This stitching is just outside the appliquéing. Each leaf, each flower, each bird, each urn is thus framed in fine stitchery.

Next it was decided to run diagonal lines, crossing diamond fashion all through body of urn. The slant of these lines was decided by the slant of the base pieces of urn. In the large diamond blocks which joined the pieced blocks, and in the half diamonds on sides and ends and the quarter diamonds at corners the members planned to use the pattern given today- the leaf.

Since the baskets held flowers and leaves it seemed appropriate to add to the garden effect with the quilted leaves.

Once quarter of pattern used for large diamond is given. It radiates from center, with three other leaves just like it radiating from center and filling diamond block. Two leaves are used on half diamonds and one on quarter diamond corners.

The members traced this pattern onto tough tracing paper. Then with a sharp pin they pricked the pattern, putting the pin pricks about an eighth of an inch apart. By holding the tracing paper on cushion the pin goes through paper easily.

This pattern was laid on diamonds and with stamping powder the pattern was transferred. And then quilted.

The entire border was quilted in diamonds spaced one inch apart. Next week comes another pattern for quilting. The experienced quilters could scarcely stay away from the quilt until it was finished and taken from the frames. And when Nancy showed it her friends said, “My dear, I never saw anything so gorgeous. When are you going to give us another quilt?” And Nancy’s answer was, “Oh pretty soon. Just wait and see what a brand new idea I have for it.”

Quick Links to:

Month 1: Beginning Instructions, Urn, and Basket Instructions
Month 2, Part 1: The Tulip
Month 2, Part 2: The Saucy Bird
Month 2, Part 3: The Meek Bird
Month 3: The Cactus
Month 4: Lily of the Valley
Month 5: The Wild Rose
Month 6: The Trillium
Month 7: Canterbury Bells
Month 8: Nasturtium
Month 9: The Pansy
Month 10: The Tiger Lily
Month 11: The Primrose
Month 12: The Zinnia
Month 13: The Daffodil
Month 14: The Phlox
Month 15: The Poppy
Month 16: The Rose
Month 17: Balloon Flower
Month 18: Forget-Me-Not
Month 19: The Lemon Lily
Month 20: The Crocus
Month 21: The Violet
Month 22: The Border
Hand Appliqué
Machine Appliqué
Alternate Method of Appliqué Tutorial
Biased Binding Tutorial

Monday, October 4, 2010

Muffin Tin Crayons- Tutorial

Last weekend my boys and I made these awesome Muffin Tin Crayons. They are really easy and lots of fun to do.

I've saved up little broken bits of crayon for this project but you could use new crayons too. I just like to repurpose all those little crayons pieces instead of tossing them out.

Begin by removing all the paper. To make it faster you could use a craft knife to cut the paper off but the little ones will just have to use their finger nails.

For this project we're using my mini muffin tins. I rarely use them for real muffins, although I suppose I should. Just unwrap the crayons, break any large ones into smaller ones to fit, and fill up the cups with whatever color combination you and your little ones might like!

Put the muffin tins into the oven at 200* Fahrenheit until melted. I think I left mine in for about 15 minutes. Just watch them because it's cool to see them melt anyway. If you are using large muffin tins they will take longer to melt.

Once they are melted, pull them out and let them cool for a bit. After that put them in the freezer for a little awhile. Putting them in the freezer will help them 'pop' out of the muffin tins really easily.

Now enjoy your new creations!

I know this tutorial has been 'done before' but I hope you liked my take on things.

Also, I was thinking that these would make great in birthday gift bags, or as a birthday or Christmas present with a little coloring book. Do you have any other suggestions? I'd love to hear about them!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday, Jameson!

My little guy, Jameson, turned 1 on Friday October 1st!

I can't believe he's a year old already!

We had a birthday party on Saturday for him!

I decorated the house.

And made his cake and some cupcakes.

Jameson got lots of great gifts but his favorites are the big bright red bouncy ball and a push toy.

And, of course, he got his own cupcake to eat. Yum!

We all had a great time even though my husband could be there with us.

You can read Jameson's Birth Story, HERE.

Happy Birthday, Jameson!

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