Babies and Book Ledges

Hola! I actually have a legitimate excuse for not posting for so long. I had a baby! Charlie Fay was born last Friday morning and she is absolutely perfect! I will post the birth story another day since I am still working on it, but I do have something pretty awesome to share today!

DIY Book Ledges

Sam has been busy on his paternity leave! I am so happy his job allows him some time off. It’s been really great for us all to bond with Charlie and for Milo’s transition into sibling-hood.  Sam built these amazing book ledges using this tutorial from Ana White’s website.  We were able to keep the $10 budget by splitting the 8ft boards 3 ways. The only thing he didn’t do was use a nail gun on the front ledge.  We don’t own a nail gun, so he just used wood glue to hold the front part in place.

DIY Book Ledges

Milo was just thrilled that all of his books have a home now. It’s more fun for him to pick which books he wants to read before bedtime with all of the covers showing.

DIY Book Ledges

I love these book shelves and can’t wait to hang some on Charlie’s wall, too! We also plan on doing some honeycomb shelving in her room to show off her girly trinkets.

Well, that’s all for today! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

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DIY Easy Christmas Stocking {DIY Christmas}

DIY Christmas

Welcome back to Me + Three’s DIY Christmas! Sorry I skipped last week. I had made this stocking the day before I was planning to post it, but it totally didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, so I took a little more time, tweaked the pattern, added and subtracted a few steps and finally got what I had been going for!

Easy Christmas Stocking

Alright, so first of all, you can use any stocking pattern that you have. I drew up one of my own just because I didn’t feel like spending the money on one and I couldn’t find one that I liked on the internet. So, if you’d like to use mine, then you are more than welcome! Oh, and don’t mind the duplicated 4th page. It’s extra.

Christmas Stocking Pattern

Make sure that if you are using fabric that has a right side and a wrong side, that you flip the stocking pattern over to make the opposite side. I used some of the fabric leftover from my couch covers along with some pretty burlap interlaced with gold.  Also, if you are using burlap for the accent pieces, make sure your stocking fabric is heavy enough or just double up with a liner if it’s a super thin fabric. 

Materials:

stocking fabric and accent fabric (You could probably get 4 stockings out of 2 yards of fabric. You only need half a yard or less for the accent pieces).

Pellon 805 Wonder Under Fusible Web

Embellishments

Twine for stocking hanger and embellishments

Sewing and cutting tools (sewing machine, matching thread, scissors, pins, etc…)

So your first step is going to be to cut out the pieces. Don’t forget to use the toe and heel pieces to cut out the wonder under pieces.

Next you’re going to follow the steps on the wonder under and fuse it to the back of the accent fabric.

If you don’t have the directions then you simply put the rough side of the wonder under and the wrong side of the accent fabric together and press with a hot iron for about 8-10 seconds, or until it’s fused to the fabric. Next, damped a dish cloth or towel, peel the other side off of the wonder under, place on top of the stocking where it is to be fused to the fabric, cover with the damp towel and press with the iron for 10-15 seconds or until fused to fabric.

DIY Christmas Stocking1

Then it’s time to do a decorative stitch over the edges of the burlap toe and heel. You only need to do the stitch on the inside sides of the burlap because the other two sides will be hidden in the seam.  I switched my stitch to zigzag, set the length at 0, and stitched over twice.

Place the edge of the burlap right in line with the needle.

Place the edge of the burlap right in line with the needle.

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Next, cut 3 strips of your accent fabric that are about 2 inches wide, and the length of the top of the stocking (about 8 inches).   Lay one strip a the top of the stocking and sew, using about 1/4″ seam allowance (if you are sewing an embellishment on, like I did, then try to sew it on now. For mine, I just cut a 4″ piece of twine, threaded two cute snowflakes onto it and sewed it with the strip, then when I hemmed the top, I reinforced it by sewing it into the hem). Flip the strip up and measure about an inch from where you sewed the first strip. Sew your second strip there and repeat for third strip.

Now that the front of the stocking is finished, hem the top of the stocking. For the back of the stocking, cut a 4 inch piece of twine, loop together, and sew into the hem at the corner (this is the stocking hanger), about a half an inch into the stocking piece (the side that the heel is on). I did about 1/4″ hem on both pieces.

DIY Christmas Stocking4

Now you’re ready to sew the 2 pieces together. Simply lay the right sides together, pin, and sew, using a 1/4″ seam allowance (right in line with the edge of the presser foot).

Turn right side out, trim any random threads, press the stocking, and enjoy your handy work!

DIY Christmas Stocking

I know I normally do a weekly dinner menu on Monday’s but I’m only cooking tonight and tomorrow night for my family, so I’m going to skip this week and take some time to be extra crafty!! Have a wonderful Monday and don’t forget to check out the other posts from my DIY Christmas series!

DIY Rag Ball Bulbs

DIY Cinnamon Garland

Honey-Garlic Glazed Carrots {side dish}

Not only are these honey-garlic glazed carrots amaze-balls, but they are also healthy {**as long as you are using butter from grass-fed cows and raw honey**}! Oh, and on top of those two awesome things, they’re quick and easy to make! So there is no reason in this world for you not to try these carrots.

HGGC

After I put last night’s Butternut Squash & Chicken Pan-Roast into the oven, I realized that I needed just one more thing to complete the meal. I would normally add something green, but I happened to have a whole bunch of carrots on-hand. The color of the carrots ended up being the perfect complement to this particular entree.

Honey-Garlic Glazed Carrots

{serves 4}

8 – 10 good-sized carrots 

3 tablespoons butter

2 minced garlic cloves

3 tablespoons raw honey

Salt and pepper

Peel carrots, then cut into 2 inch increments. Quarter the big fat parts and leave the skinny parts whole. Just aim to get each piece the same size.  Place carrots into a medium sized pot, cover with water, and place over high heat. When water begins to boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low for 10 – 15 minutes, depending on how tender you want them {I did 15 and the carrots melted in my mouth}.  Drain the water from the carrots and set aside while you prepare your honey mixture.

For the honey mixture simply heat the butter in a small pan over medium heat then add garlic. Sauté garlic for 2 – 3 minutes then add the honey and stir to combine.  Add the mixture to the carrots and carefully coat the carrots using a spoon.  Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Honey Garlic Carrots

 

**Come back tomorrow for an awesome Etsy giveaway!**

Have a happy Tuesday!!

DIY Burlap Ruffle Pillow {tutorial}

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my sewing machine this weekend. I’ve been meaning to finish this burlap ruffle pillow for sometime now, and finally got around to it! I also managed to make a set of curtains for the back window and a door curtain for the back door. We are now completely covered at night! Back to the pillow…I thought I’d share some instructions on how to do the burlap ruffles on the front of the pillow case.

Burlap pillow

This is a fairly easy project to do as long as you know the basics of sewing a zippered pillow case. If not, I am including a few good reference posts on that subject below.

Alright, so here’s the cast of characters. Ignore the piping that I tried to “X” out. I decided not to use the piping with the burlap ruffles.

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1. Pillow form (this one is 12″ x 12″)

2. Front and back panel cut from fabric of your choice at 13″ x 13″.

3. 4″ burlap ribbon (found at Michaels)

4. 8″ – 10″ zipper for closure

The first thing I did was pin the burlap ribbon to the pillow like this:

ruffle

I didn’t cut the burlap into specifically long segments because I wasn’t sure how much I needed for each strip, so I just kept the ribbon connected while I pinned the ruffles then cut it off at the end of the pillow case. I measured 1.5″ between each burlap strip. I measured about 2″ between each little ruffle crease (the creases were made simply by folding over about .5″ of burlap and pinning).

Then I sewed the ruffled strip at the very top, making sure to backtack over each ruffle fold to reinforce.

Rufflepillow

The next step is really much neater if you own a serger, but if not, you can simply clip the edges to make them neat and even for sewing the pillow case.

serged

Now you have the front of your pillow case and you can sew it up as if it were just a plain ol’ panel of fabric! Pretty darn easy, right?

Here are those pillow case tutorials that I promised:

Zippered Pillow Cover

Zippered Throw Pillows

Have a wonderful Friday!!

Fall Pizza {Apple, Sausage, & Gouda}

This pregnancy has me craving everything bad. I want pizza, cake, and donuts all of the time. Even right now. Fortunately, I have some free time in my schedule now so I can go to my Stroller Strides classes a few days a week! Bring on the donuts!

Anyway, back to the pizza.  I know “fall pizza” sounds kind of weird, but I decided to call it that because of the warm and cozy toppings that remind me of fall: apples, maple syrup, sausage, sage, and smokey gouda cheese!

pizza

I used this awesome recipe {and method} from one of my favorite blogs, Weed ‘Em and Reap.  Check her out if you love to eat cake but don’t want to feel guilty about it anymore.

Fall Apple & Sausage Pizza

Pizza crust – use recipe linked above or your favorite!

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 sweet onions, halved lengthwise, then sliced into 1/2 inch slices

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 apples (whatever variety you like), slices thin

3 tablespoons chopped, fresh sage

1lb sausage

2 cups baby spinach leaves

2 cups smoked gouda cheese

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat, then add onions and cook for 15-20 minutes. Stir constantly to make sure onions don’t stick to the pan. When the onions are soft and golden, add balsamic vinegar and cook and stir until vinegar is evaporated (5-10 minutes). Stir in apples, maple syrup, and sage. Cook for 2-3 minutes until apples have softened a bit. Cook sausage in another pan, making sure to crumble it like ground beef.

Assuming you have prepared your pizza crusts and preheated the oven according to whatever directions you are using, spread 1 cup of the spinach over the pizza crust, topped with half of the apple/onion mixture, half of the sausage, and half of the smoked gouda cheese. If you are lucky enough to have a big enough oven and two pizza stones, then prepare the other crust with the remaining ingredients and cook according to the directions for your choice of crust.  If you use the recipe linked above, I had to cook the pizza for about 20 minutes.

fall pizza2

The crust was so, so, so soft and yummy. If you are one of those weird people who like thin crust then this is not the crust for you. It’s fluffy, soft, and all sorts of perfect!

pizza2

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal

Monday through Friday I am really good about breakfast. I normally have a protein shake or fruit and eggs. Saturday and Sunday mornings are reserved for, what I call, a good breakfast. I always have something sweet for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday is normally “pancake Sunday” but I have been skipping the pancakes and reaching for the oatmeal container instead.

Growing up, oatmeal was a totally different experience for me. Mom bought the instant packs and her favorites were the fruit n’ cream ones. So we grew up on packaged strawberries n’ cream or peaches n’ cream oatmeal. That is what I thought oatmeal was. Packages of instant deliciousness.

Of course they were too good to be true.

Not only are those wonderful little packages loaded with sugar and salt, they also contain some kind of powered cream and weird, dried up fruit and doesn’t look or taste anything like normal dried fruit. I don’t know about you, but I believe cream is best kept refrigerated and fresh…not powered, sitting in a package on a grocery store shelf for months and months.

Anyway, I knew my time with instant flavored oatmeal was up when I decided to ditch the process foods. Thank God, because this homemade version of Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal is way better than the packaged kind and it doesn’t use any sketchy ingredients!

Oatmeal

 

Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal

Serves 1. Double for 2 servings!

1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill thick rolled oats (or your favorite oats)

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon maple extract

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon real maple syrup

*optional Butter and Milk

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, add oats, vanilla extract, maple extract, and cinnamon. Stir and cook on med-low heat for about 10 minutes. When the oatmeal starts looking they way you like it (I like mine a little watery) then turn the heat off and cover for a few minutes.

Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle brown sugar and maple syrup over the oats. Add butter and milk if desired! Enjoy!

Oatmeal2

Healthy Pasta Salad with Cucumber-Lime Vinaigrette

This pregnancy has me craving cold dishes. I have probably made 5 different pasta salad variations in the past 3 weeks.  I just can’t get enough of them! Plus it’s a good way for me to get more raw vegetables in my diet, which I need even more since I’m, you know, growing another human being.

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A healthy pasta salad?

Take a look at those beautiful colors! Any dish with that many colors has got to be packed with tons of good stuff, right? And as long as you use whole grain pasta, there will be nothing bad about this salad.

Pasta Salad with Cucumber-Lime Vinaigrette

half a box of your choice of pasta salad noodles (I chose penne)

1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and chopped about 1/4 inches thick

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped into 1 inch pieces 

1/2 to 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes (your preference)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (took me 3 juicy limes)

1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or another flavorless oil, like canola)

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like things spicy)

generous amounts of salt and pepper for seasoning

Boil pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. In a large bowl toss cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes, and cilantro to mix well. In a small bowl mix lime juice, oil, honey, red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour vinaigrette over pasta and vegetables.

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It keeps pretty well overnight in the refrigerator, so you can make this dish ahead of time. It’s great for Saturday BBQ’s or potluck dinners at church. You can make it gluten-free, too, by replacing the noodles with gluten-free noodles, of course.

Two-Ingredient Jam {DIY}

I remember the days when I would down a bowl of Smart Start Healthy Heart cereal or a Lean Cuisine dinner and feel like I had made a healthy food choice. Bless my heart (wait, can I bless my own heart?). Anyway, I now realize how terrible those things are for my body and that I should really concentrate on eating whole foods that are non- or minimally processed. Since this realization I have started making a lot of our staples. I make our granola, our salad dressing, hummus, pesto, sometimes our bread, and now our jam! I am currently growing cucumbers so I can make our own pickles, vegetables for our own stock, and our own herbs and spices! My philosophy on healthy eating is something like “the closer to home it is, the better”. I’m still working on that.

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I also find that once I make something at home, I can never bring myself to purchase it at the grocery store again. I haven’t bought salad dressing in YEARS. Really, years…like 3 or 4 of them. Alright…on to the jam!

This was my first time making jam and I was really scared that I was going to mess it up. But it’s so darn easy! These measurements made me two jars of jam. I wanted to be on the safe side in case I jacked it all up, but now I wish I would have bought 5lbs of concord grapes! It’s soooooooo good.

Two Ingredient Jam

2lbs concord grapes

1 1/2 – 2 cups of sugar {depending on how sweet you like it}

Okay, so there is a method to this, I guess. First you’re going to squeeze the insides of the grape into a pot while keeping the skins for later. Your fingers will be purplish, but I wear these purple fingers as a badge of honor since this jam is so amazing. I almost want to walk around with a jar of it just in case someone asks me why my fingers are purple. Anyway, when you’ve squeezed all of the grapes out of the skins, bring the pot of grapes to a boil for about 10 minutes or until the grapes have turned to a mush. You can help them out by mashing them, like I did.

Then you need to grab a sieve and put it over a bowl. Mash the seedy-mush with a spoon to expel all of the juices. Throw the seeds away. Pour the juice back into the pot and add skins. Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the sugar, beginning with a cup. Give it a little taste and see if that’s enough. I ended up putting in 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar, but if you need to put 2 cups in, hey, no judging here!

This is where I kind of lost track of time. I think I ended up boiling the mixture for 30 minutes, and even accidentally scorched it (and it still turned out amazing). I did take a photo of what it should look like when it’s finished:

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I’ve read that you can put a spoon in the freezer for a few minutes, then dip the spoon and if it runs off of the spoon like syrup, then it’s not quite done yet.

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While the jam was cooking, I sterilized some jam jars and lids in boiling water for a few minutes, dried them off, filled them with the jam while both (the jam and the jar) were still hot, and sealed them tightly. Then I boiled them for about 10 more minutes and set them upside down on a towel for about an hour. I’m sure they sealed in less than an hour, but I was busy doing other things.

I’m still new to the canning process, so I might have not done that correctly, I guess we will see! I don’t plan on letting these to jars of jam last that long, though.

Have a wonderful Thursday, all!

**Update**9/12/13 – It’s been a week and this jam is still amazing, however, I wanted to add that I am needing to put the jar in the microwave for about 20 seconds to loosen it up enough to spread onto bread. I am not sure if I did something wrong or if that is just something that comes along with quick jams. Anyway, just wanted to put that out there. It still tastes like heaven! 

Rotini Bake

I have never been too big on leftovers, but lately I’ve been including one leftover night in my weekly meal plan just to give me a little more time to spend with Milo on the days he goes to preschool.  Although I don’t love the idea of serving my family something that was cooked previously, they don’t seem to mind too much, so I guess it’s okay…as long as I don’t do it more than once a week! 

This rotini bake is pretty simple and not fancy at all. It’s perfect for a weeknight meal paired with a nice, green salad! And if you’re into the whole leftovers thing, it keeps great for a day or two in the fridge.

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Rotini Bake

1lb whole grain rotini pasta

1lb ground beef

1 28oz jar of marinara sauce (my favorite is Newman’s)

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 15oz container ricotta cheese

1/2 cup of pasta water

2 cups mozzarella cheese

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cook pasta until al dente (save a 1/2 a cup of the pasta water!) and brown beef in a skillet. In a large bowl or in the pot you cooked the pasta in, combine the pasta, beef, tomato sauce, basil, parsley, ricotta cheese, water, and salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a large casserole dish. Mine was 3.75 qt and was up to the top. Top with mozzarella. Bake for 20 minutes. This will serve 6 in one sitting, or 3 for two nights!

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Enjoy!

Simple and sweet stir fry

I love to cook stir fry. It’s so easy, takes a small amount of time, and only uses one or two dishes! I also like a sweet sauce along with something sweet in the stir fry, like pineapple!

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I used pineapple, water chestnuts, broccoli, sweet onion, and baby bella mushrooms, but you are more than welcome to use whatever combination of veggies you love. Sam has been gone for the past few days (due back tonight, yay!) so I went meatless but you can add meat if that’s your style. Me? I’d be happy if I never saw meat again!

Simple & Sweet Stir Fry

Serves 2

1 cup Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced

Half of a sweet onion, sliced thin

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup broccoli florets

1/2 cup pineapple, chopped, about 1 inch cubes

small can of sliced water chestnuts

Olive Oil (to cook veggies in)

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons raw honey

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon sirracha *or more if you like it spicy*

1 teaspoon corn starch mixed with 1 tablespoon warm water

1 cup cooked brown rice *I like to cook mine in chicken or vegetable broth for more flavor*

For the sauce, mix soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sirracha, & cornstarch mixture together in a bowl and adjust sweet or spicy flavors if needed. Make sure you mix the cornstarch with the water separate from the sauce and then add that mixture to the sauce. Otherwise, you’re going to have clumps of cornstarch floating around your sauce.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and cook the mushrooms and onion on medium-high heat until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, broccoli, water chestnuts, and pineapple and cook for 5 more minutes or until the broccoli is tender.  At this point, I like to add some soy sauce to the cooking veggies, about 3 tablespoons.  Add the sauce to the veggies and cook and stir for about 2 minutes or until the sauce starts to get thick and bubbly.

Serve the vegetables over the rice, making sure to spoon some of that yummy sauce over it!

Enjoy!