Thursday, August 14, 2014

Evening Gown - Creation, Elation and Destruction


My husband and I had free tickets to attend the NAACP Image awards viewing party (Thanks to my awesome employer - Walmart) . I was so excited to be able to see Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle in concert! I decided that this would be a great opportunity to sew my gown (Simplicity 2253). We live in a small town so I didn't want to just buy one - besides...where's the fun in that!? :)

I picked out a beautiful seafoam green stretch satin with a small amount of sheer, sequined fabric for the bodice. As soon as I purchased everything I caught...THE FLU - Ugh! Needless to say I was out of commission until the day before the event, but I wasn't going to let that ruin my plans. I stayed up all night Friday night to finish the dress.

My husband and I had an amazing time!

One funny part of the night...and the way life just happens - at the after gathering my husband accidentally spilled whole grain mustard on the front of my dress and the stain wouldn't come out! He was mortified because he knew I had just spent hours making it. I was a bit freaked out too, but then decided that I wasn't going to let a little mustard ruin our great night.

I've decided to make it into a dressy top and will make some flowy pants to go with it (for the next special event). Toodles!










Saturday, August 9, 2014

FREE Magazines, Music & Movies -- Not to mention books!

I am a voracious reader and listener of books, magazines, documentaries, etc. and feel like I'm missing out if I'm not learning something new on a regular basis. However, I found myself spending loads of money on popular websites for digital magazines, music, movies and books only to figure out that I didn't read, listen or watch enough to justify the cost of all of these items.

After doing some digging I found out that my library has all of these things available to me, in digital format, for FREE! Who knew the library had such great stuff!? And did I's FREE? Now, some of you may be reading this and saying, "I live in a little town and there is no way my library will have this". That may be true, but you should check just to be sure. My hometown library is small too, but they have throusands of downloadable books, movies and music and carries about 40 magazines that are available for digital download.

Once I learned about my own library's offerings I decided to look at libraries in nearby small cities and in larger cities to see what they had to offer. A library one town over had more than double the selection of my library so I decided to get a non-resident card. Although there was a nominal fee ($15 per year, per household) it was still a better deal than just one of the many subscriptions I had (for instance one of my audiobook subscriptions was more than $20 per month).

To find out what's available in your area just go to Google and type your city's nameplus public library. For example in the google search bar you would type "Chicago Public Library". Then click on the website link or, if available, click on the word "ebook" or "digital downloads" just under the website link. Many sites will allow you to browse what they offer even before you sign up for a library card.

The digital content can be accessed on nearly all devices -- from cell phones, to tablets/e-readers to PC's/MAC's by going to specific sites or downloading the corresponding app. The list below may vary by library, but some of the digital resources I have access to include, but are not limited to: Zinio - digital magazines, OverDrive - digital and audio books, One Click Audio - audio books, Freegal - music and movies and Hoopla - movies. All of these resources have content for all ages and are FREE through public libraries!

If you haven't visited a library in a while I hope the information in this post makes you fall in love with your library again.

Happy reading, listening and watching!



Pecan Pie Bark - A Delicious Discovery!


I really can't stand the texture of pecan pie, but my husband absolutely loves it. It is almost a sin to be a southerner and hate pecan pie (I get cross-eyed looks everytime I say it) :) Anyhoo...Enter the pecan pie bark, a yummy confection that is something between a pie and a cookie and has been approved by my entire family!

Since I don't want to be "that blogger" I want to make sure to give credit to the original blogger and guest blogger -- Great recipe - I found it during one of my Pinterest binges. :) I made some tweaks to the recipe based on previous baker's feedback and then added a few of my own. The original recipe can be found at and my tweaked version is listed below. Enjoy!

Pecan Pie Bark


1 T butter or margarine for greasing cookie sheet

12 graham cracker rectangles (may need more or less depending on length of cookie sheet

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 sticks margarine or butter

1 T corn syrup

1 T water

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 cups pecan halves

1 tsp vanilla

InstructionsPreheat oven to 325.

  1. Lightly grease cookie sheet
  2. Place graham crackers as close together as possible without ovrerlapping.You might have to break the last row of crackers to fit.
  3. In a medium/large sauce pot melt both sugars, butter, corn syrup, water, salt and cinnamon over medium heat until boiling.
  4. Let it boil for two minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking/burning.
  5. Add the pecans and boil for one additional minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  7. Pour mixture over the graham crackers and spread to evenly distribute.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting or breaking in to pieces.
  10. Store in an airtight container.

Instruction #1-2 Instruction #3 Instruction #4

Instruction #5-6 Instruction #7 Instruction #8-9



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Homemade Laundry Soap

One bar of Fels Naptha Soap plus 1/4 cup of baking soda grated

2 1/2 cups of Super Washing Soda

2 1/2 cups of Borax

1 cup of baking soda

1/2 container of Purex scent crystals

Optional: 1 cup Oxygenated powder

Cut up the Fels Naptha bar into medium chunks.
Add Fels Naptha chunks and the 1/4 cup of baking soda to a food processor (preferably one just used for non food items).
Pulse in the processor until the soap is finely ground.
Mix the soap/baking soda and the remaining ingredients in a large container.


Put in a tightly closed container. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Simplicity 1900 - Handmade Baby Doll

Hi All!

Here is my latest sewing project! I am currently eliminating junk from my diet so my clothes sewing mojo is on hiatus until I reach my goal (with the exception of transition pieces and accessories...

I used broadcloth, 8.5 X 11 sheets of felt, assorted fat quarters, embroidery floss, fiberfill, thread,eyelets and grosgrain ribbon.

So here's the cute little doll that I made for a sweet little girl.


I cut out the pattern pieces a while ago and hand embroidered her face first to see if it was going to be a successful project or a hot mess. Once I finished her face I decided to finish her up today. I took pictures of some of the steps so that you can see how she came together. I am still training myself to stop at the right points in the project to take pictures (I get so caught up in the moment that I've completed several steps before I realize that I haven't snapped any photos! So, here we go...

This is what the front body looks like after embroidering the face, putting on the hair and top stitching around and on top of the hair.


The back of the body with top stitching on and around the back of the hair.


Legs and socks sewn together.


Arms sewn, turned and stuffed.


Arms and legs basted to the body front.


After attaching the legs and arms to the front of the body I put the back and front together (right sides together) and sewed all the way around the doll, leaving a small opening for turning. After turning the doll was firmly stuffed with fiberfill and the opening was closed using a whip stitch (not as neat as a ladder stitch, but it does give "rag doll" properties to this little cutie. Since she didn't have any clothes on I just took a head shot :).


On to the clothes - this is a little A-line dress that has a front that has been separated to allow for the contrasting pleat. The arms, bottom and back closure have simple double-folded hems. The collar was finished with binding and I used heat activated hook and loop tape for the back closure. A little rectangular piece was stitched (right sides together with a hole for turning), turned, pressed, stitched closed and tied in a knot to form a bow.




Here's the cape. It was cut out of felt. Two butterflies were also cut out of two colors of felt, folded in half and stitched very close to the fold. They were then attached to the cape by stitching along the seam that was just created. The cape's closure is also heat activated hook and loop tape.


The pattern originally called for the little shoes to be closed by a loop and a button, but I thought it would be cute to make these mimic ballet slippers. To do this I inserted two sets of eyelets on each shoe, cut and sealed two lengths of grosgrain ribbon, threaded the ribbon through the slippers and tied them around the dolls feet.




Here are a few more pictures of what she looks like.


Here's what I learned...

1. I should have cut the threads between her eyes (it's visible behind the fabric) or use a thicker broadcloth next time.

2. Double check to be sure that the fabric doesn't shift when sewing the back and front together.

3. Don't make the seam allowance so wide in the shoes (they went from being almost too big to almost too small!

4. Don't be lazy...I should have used pink thread for the socks (the dark thread is showing).

5. Use a contrasting color for the top stitching throughout the hair (all my nice stitches throughout her hair are practically invisible).

6. Continue to tighten up my embroidery skills (and use stabilizer next time)!

Thanks for reading my looooooooong post!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Week 1 Vanilla Extract

Hi everyone! it has been a week since I started my homemade vanilla extract. Here is a picture of the progress...



Monday, June 25, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I have been eyeing the homemade vanilla extract recipe in the new cookbook I just bought, "The Homemade Pantry".


I went online and made a bulk purchase of gourmet bourbon vanilla beans (about 52 beans for $15.00). If anyone has ever priced these at retail you know that two vanilla beans cost more than $10 after tax (yes, you read that right...ten dollars for two beans 0_o) I also got some of the best vodka (Skyy brand) I could find/afford/was willing to pay for.


Now for my church folks who read my blog...I am NOT a drunk...;). For those who don't know most extracts are made with some form of alcohol . However, when you cook with it the majority bakes out and for the times when you don't bake it out the alcohol content is very low (you run a higher risk of getting drunk off your morning mouthwash)!

Anyway...back to the matter at hand. I read through the recipe in my cookbook and browsed recipes online to get a general understanding of the process. Here a my steps:

1. I sterilized my jar and lid to be sure they were nice and clean.


2. I took out 10 vanilla beans and split them lengthwise with a sharp knife.


3. I added the split beans to my clean jar.


4. I filled the jar to the top with the vodka, put on the lid and screwed it shut (my family calls me Sheera because I put lids on too tight and usually need help getting them off later).


5. I gave the jar a couple of shakes and put it in a dark corner of one of my cabinets.

I'll have to remember to give it a good shake once a week. Most recipes say that it will be ready in three weeks, but for the best flavor six weeks is the minimum. I am so excited!

I'll be sure to post weekly pics of its progress. If all goes well I plan to start a batch in the fall to give as Christmas gifts for all the bakers in my life!

Thanks for looking and don't forget to check back to see how it's going! Toddles!


Monday, June 18, 2012