Archive for August, 2011

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I finally figured out how to position the sleeves, so I sewed them on and sewed up the other seams.  I think it worked out well!

Click here for the previous post about this sweater.

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I tried having theme days for meals and planning two weeks of meals.  Since I’ve gone back to work, cooking has not been happening.  It’s gotten so bad, that we’ve found ourselves eating out or getting take away for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!  Not good for the budget.

So, it was time to rework the menu plan again.  Luckily, we have a handy-dandy dry-erase board.

Menu Planning Changes:

  • I scratched out the days of the week and did away with the theme nights.
  • One column is for dinners and the middle column is for the next days’ lunches (note the arrows).  Having a corresponding lunch helps me plan ahead for a different lunch item for days when dinners have no leftovers.
  • The far right column shows items I need to use, freeze, or prepare.
  • I plan to cook the dinners in any order I please.  That way, if I feel so worn out after work that the only thing I can do is warm up taco soup from the freezer, then that’s what we’ll have for dinner that night.
  • I tried to incorporate/plan meals using potatoes, rice, soups, items already prepared in the freezer, pasta, and produce from the local box that we need to prepare.  I also tried to make all of the meal choices from foods that we have in the pantry or in the freezer, to cut back on the grocery bill.

This week’s menu:

  • fresh peas, cooked in bacon with veggies and chicken broth
  • chicken cooked with Mrs. Dash, potatoes
  • Spanish rice (Family Feasts by Mary Ostyn)
  • Top Ramon with sausage & veggies
  • spaghetti (Jaime’s Food Revolution)
  • taco soup (Family Feasts)
  • chicken fajita soup (Food Nanny)

As we have tons and tons of potatoes, they will be served with as many meals as possible this week.  Mostly, they’ll be thrown in the microwave and topped with butter, salt, and pepper.

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Local Box – August 24

Local Box Contents for Aug. 24:

  • yellow squash
  • butternut squash
  • salad greens
  • fresh peas
  • potatoes
  • onions
  • Asian pears
  • garlic
  • okra

When we first started getting the local boxes, we got them every week.  We’re going to start getting them less frequently, such as when we really, really like what’s in the box, or if we need to order additional items, such as local honey, organic bacon, etc.  Getting the extra items all in one box saves us trips to several local places (in 108 degree heat).

I’m going to see if I can spend less on my weekly groceries (including produce) at the store.  My goal is to try and spend (for all groceries, including produce) the amount that I would have spent on the local box alone.  We really only need to buy dairy, produce, and occasional meat right now, because we have a full pantry and freezer of everything else.

I really like that the local box gets me eating a wonderful variety of local produce.  I’m concerned that by getting my produce from the store, I’ll go back into the same rut of buying only romaine lettuce and bananas.  That’s why we will probably get the local box every 2-3 weeks, instead of every week.  That should supplement us with squash, local/organic greens, etc.

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This is Part 2 of Sewing Baby Bibs.

Once you’ve turned your bibs right-side out, match your thread.

Sew as close to the edge as possible, so as to securely close the opening that was used for turning the bibs right-side out.

Next, it’s time to attach snaps.  You can do snaps that you hammer or ones that you sew (tedious).  You can also use velcro, but I’m avoiding it like the plague, because I’ve experienced velcro chains out of the wash.  Not fun.

Sorry for the fuzziness.  Each bib requires the top and bottom snap.  Each snap has two parts.

Here’s a blurry picture of what a finished snap set looks like.

Note:  Don’t use a piece of wood to hammer your snaps in!!!  You need to use a thread spool or a snap tool.  The wood just bends the pointy bit of the snap.  The wood also can’t reach the lower parts of the snap, so it doesn’t get properly attached to its partner snap.  Spools are great, because they have a hole in the middle that fits around the pointy bit and perfectly on top of the lower part of the snap.

Use a pin and a fabric pen to mark where you want your snaps.

Meet the spool.  It really does work well for snaps.

If you need to pry a snap apart, because you bent the pointy bit using a block of wood instead of a spool, pliers are really helpful.

Make sure you buy enough snaps!  Remember, there are four pieces per bib.

The finished bibs!  Great for feeding and ready for drooling during teething time!

I made 1o bibs, thinking about 3-4 per day (or 3 per day with some kept in the diaper bag), with washing every 2-3 days.

As with our cloth napkins, we can toss these in the washer at the end of a meal, and they will get washed whenever we next do a load of laundry.

The above photo shows the front and back of the bibs.

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You open the door of the car and the next thing you know…

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At the end of every school year, I make a classroom scrapbook.  Not only do my students like to look through scrapbooks from previous years, but they are especially helpful at the beginning of each school year for giving parents an idea of the activities that we do.

All year long, I take photos of my students doing math, literature circles, science activities, etc.  At the end of the year, I narrow down the photos to an affordable amount, get them printed, and start scrapbooking.

This year, I printed 150 photos.  I purchased tape runners (I had glue sticks at home for when the tape runners ran out), background paper, coordinating cardstock, extra sheet protectors with expansion posts, and a scrapbook album.  You’ll also need a paper trimmer with a good blade and a Sharpie marker.

After you print your photos, sort them by subject or activity.  Don’t have more than 4 per page.  Then, put the groups in the order you want for your album.  Mine went something like this:  front page (pictures of all of my students), reading pics, writing pics, social studies, science (lots of pages!), parties, etc.

These paper pads were $5 each from Walmart.  They were fantastic.  I used the coordinating cardstock (right) behind each photo.

To keep things simple, match a background design with cardstock.  You’ll want two pieces of the pattern paper (they will go in the album side-by-side).  I fit 3 photos per page of cardstock, so if a side-by-side has 8 photos, you’ll need 3 pieces of cardstock.

In the above photo, you can see the side-by-side papers, selected photos, and cardstock.

Sorry, I can’t show faces (confidentiality).

Put glue on the backs of the photos, stick them to cardstock, trim around, and glue to the paper.  I don’t use fancy layouts or diecuts.  I just put the photos on the page at angles.

After you make all of your pages, add expansion posts and sheet protectors to your album.  You might need to add cardboard spacers, which sometimes come with the sheet protector packs.  Basically, they are strips of cardboard that fit between sets of sheet protectors to give your album more of a flat look, because the photos and scrapbook papers raise the thickness of your album.

The spine (between the covers) was 1-1/2 inches tall, so I expanded the paper covering the spine.  There were directions for how to do this printed on the spine paper (it came with the album).

For journaling, I cut a small rectangle of coordinating cardstock, wrote a word or two to describe what’s going on on the pages (in Sharpie), and then added a doodled border.  Examples:  Literature Circles, Measurement, Sheep in a Jeep!, etc.  Glue on the journaling rectangles, put the pages in the sheet protectors, and you’re done!

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Sewing Baby Bibs, Part 1

I made several baby bibs using the pattern here.  It’s a good set of instructions and they include a pattern that you can print out.

The website also gives you the option of purchasing fabric kits (including front fabric, back terry cloth, snaps, and thread).  Each fabric kit has enough materials for four bibs.

I used fabric fat quarters (they were on sale) for the front of each bib, and terry fabric for the backs.  I got two bibs for every fat quarter.  The terry cloth is great for the back, (as was recommended on a website I came across, sorry, can’t think of the name) because you can use the terry for a washcloth after the meal.  Plus, it makes the bibs more absorbent.  I want these bibs to be usable for both feeding and drooling during the teething stage.

The bib pattern prints on two pages.  You cut out the pattern and tape the two pieces together.  You can print the pattern from here.

First, wash the fabric in hot water.  When dry, iron the fabric fat quarters.

Next, layer a fat quarter (face down) and the terry cloth.  Trace the pattern.

I weighed my pattern down with sticky notes.  The cutting line for this pattern is the sewing line (the line you sew on), so don’t cut on the line!

Trace the second bib on the same fat quarter.

Pin the fat quarter to the terry.

Cut the fat quarter (and terry) in half.  Trim away terry that extends past the fat quarter.  You could also trim closer to the bib.

Sew on the line.  Leave an opening for turning right-side out (the opening is marked on the pattern).

After sewing the bib in the photo above, I decided to make the bibs a bit bigger and longer, so I started sewing outside the line.

Cut out the bib (after sewing), leaving  some space all the way around.

Here is a stack of bibs ready to be turned.  I found it easiest to turn right-side out by pulling the inside of the bib through the opening.

Once turned, use a point turner (or whatever you normally use) to get all of the edges and points all the way pushed out.  Then, iron the bibs flat.

Check back next week for Part 2!

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BBQ Chicken Tacos


I adapted a BBQ Chicken Salad recipe from here to make BBQ Chicken Tacos.


1 cup BBQ sauce and 1/2 cup water


Chicken in the slow cooker


Add sauce & water.  Cook on high for 4-6 hours (depending if frozen).


Corn, pinto beans, onion, and avocado were used in the BBQ chicken tacos.  I ate the tomatoes before I could use them, and I didn’t use the ranch dressing.


After the chicken has cooked for several hours, shred it or break it up into smaller pieces.


If using canned pinto beans, rinse them.


Add the beans.  This recipe also works well with fresh beans.


Mix the beans and chicken.


Saute the onions.


Add the corn about 30 min. before the chicken mixture is done.  If cooking four hours, add the corn at the 3-1/2 hour mark.  You can also wait the full time, add the corn, and then cook an extra 30 min.

You can add the onions, but I kept mine separate.


Mix the corn in with the chicken and beans.


To serve, start a tortilla with onions and avocado.


Add the chicken/bean/corn mixture and enjoy!


This is after one taco was eaten.  You can see how messy (but delicious) they are!

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After watching Grandma cook the most delicious hashbrowns, I thought I’d give it a go.

Grandma grates potatoes and squash and then cooks them in Crisco or bacon drippings, turning every five minutes or so.  She also seasons with salt.  Fantastic hashbrowns!

I went ahead and added a little chopped onion, and cooked them in olive oil over medium-low heat.

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Don’t you just love the mess involved in an organization project?  It reminds me of my grad school days, where I’d have textbooks, spirals, and research articles that I had to read all over my desk.

Okay, I found that I wasn’t using my “Favorites” recipe binder.  Instead, I was using my hodgepodge binder, where I stuff recipes printed on scraps of paper, note paper, sticky notes, etc.

The last time I updated my “Favorites” recipe binder, I was in total vegan mode.  Now, I’m eating some meat, so things needed to be reorganized.

First, I cleared out all of the recipes from the Favorites binder, and cleared the labeled tabs.


Next, I made a list of the categories I wanted, and put them in an order that worked for me.


I re-labeled the tabs.


At the beginning of each section in the binder, I put a colorful sheet of printer paper, labeled with the category and a list of the recipes in that section.  That paper and all recipes were then put in sheet protectors.

If a recipe was written on a sticky note (etc.) or needed modifications, I typed and printed it.


In this picture, you can see the category’s cover page, with the following recipes, all in sheet protectors.

This binder design works for me, because I can easily add more recipes, plus use the tabs to find recipes in a certain category (ex:  beans, rice, etc.) quickly.

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Local Box – August 10

Local Box Contents for July 10:

  • peaches
  • watermelon
  • basil
  • yellow squash
  • butternut squash
  • fresh peas
  • peppers
  • magenta spreen (similar to spinach, I’m told)
  • hydroponic lettuce (grown in water, not soil)
  • onions

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