Sunday, March 22, 2015

Homemade Brown Sugar

A couple of weeks ago I was making pancake syrup for some really sweet college kids and realized that I didn't have enough brown sugar to make as much as I wanted them to have. I went ahead and gave them partial bottles and promised them a refill once their bottles were empty. In the meantime I started thinking...there has to be a way to make brown sugar from home.

After a few minutes of searching Pinterest I found a recipe from Martha Stewart's website. I decided to give it a try since I was making a sweet potato souffle that afternoon and needed brown sugar for the topping.

The steps were super simple (check out the recipe for exact amounts):

1. You basically take white sugar


2. Pour in molasses


3. Mix until well combined and you have awesome brown sugar!

Here's a photo of the souffle topping where I used the homemade brown sugar (brown sugar, pecans, flour & butter).





Friday, February 6, 2015

All Sewn Up and No Where To Go

It's that time of year again, the annual NAACP Image Awards Viewing Party. I found the perfect color fabric - a nod to the 2015 Pantone color of the year - and a Vogue vintage pattern (originally printed circa 1957) that I liked. I made the dress over three and a half evenings. As you can tell by the title something went wrong...Well, I took two of my children to their well child check ups yesterday afternoon. I noticed my youngest daughter felt a little warm when I picked her up from daycare, but I didn't think much about it because I'm usually cooler than she is. Imagine my surprise when the doctor said "we can't give her any shots today because she two different strains of the flu". Whaaaaat!? I didn't even know that was possible!

So, neededless to say my plans for going out were over, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. There is just something about mommy being there when you don't feel well. She's all tucked into bed and is resting now - which is a beautiful thing.

Here are a few pictures of the pattern and the dress. I will say that the top of this dress was unusually wide so I added pleats to the front and took up the straps to make it fit better. I also omitted the bow. I don't think I'll sew this one again, but it was fun to make! Toodles!



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fun with Freezer Paper!

I've been on a T-shirt making kick lately. I think its because it's a craft that almost anyone can do. When my nieces and nephew were visiting we decided to do freezer paper T-shirts. I asked them and my kids what they wanted on their tshirts. I designed the layout in Cricut design space and cut out the freezer paper with my Cricut Explore (remember to put the freezer paper shiny side down on the mat).

For those who don't have an electronic paper cutter you can totally do this project by printing or drawing your design on the dull side of the freezer paper and cutting out the design with an exacto knife. Remember to keep the small pieces that will give your design definition (like the inside circles from letters)

Here's what you'll need to do your own freezer paper shirts:

  1. Freezer Paper (found near the foil in your local grocery store)
  2. Electronic paper cutter (like a Cricut) or an exacto knife
  3. T-shirt or other garment/item of your choice
  4. Fabric paints (I use the weekly 40% coupon at Hobby Lobby to cut costs here)
  5. Sponge brushes (found in the craft section of your local discount or craft store)

Once you have your design cut out of the freezer paper just iron the freezer paper to your T-shirt (no steam), shiny side DOWN - if you mess this part up you'll ruin your iron (ask me how I know)!

After you have the freezer paper completely ironed down, put a piece of heavy cardboard inside of the shirt so that no paint bleeds through on the back of the shirt.

Now you can use a sponge brush and T-shirt paint to color in the stencil. One tip here, don't try to do a really heavy coat. It's better to do light coats on top of each other (no need to dry between coats) so that you don't have unevenly painted areas.

Lay the T-shirt aside to dry for a few hours. When the paint is dry to the touch pull off the stencil (don't forget to remove the little pieces too). As long as the shirt is dry to the touch it is ready to wear. However, you shouldn't wash it for at least 48 hours (or for whatever length of time is listed on the fabric paint package). When you do wash it turn it inside out and wash with like colors.

I hope you have as much fun making your shirts as we did! Toodles!



Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lightning Fast Yeast Rolls

To say that I L.O.V.E. bread is putting it mildly. When I was little my dad worked for a national bread company so bread along with other treats were always around the house. I can remember calling my dad at work one day when my older brother was babysitting me to tell him that my brother wouldn't let me have any more bread (I had already had nearly half a loaf by myself). My dad asked me to put my brother on the phone. He told my brother, "its just bread, let her have it". Those words were music to my ears as I polished off a few more slices that day. My love of bread is still strong, but so is my desire to be able to fit into my clothes so I have to be mindful of my portions. :) Anyhoo, I've provided the link to the recipe right after the photos of the rolls I made tonight for dinner. Why go through the trouble?...because there are some days when only homemade will do!

The formed rolls resting for 10 minutes before baking.

The baked rolls after brushing with melted butter - yum!

Click HERE for the recipe!



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Two tote bags using the Cricut Explore!

Its been a while so I figured I'd better catch you all up on what's been going on in my world! I made quite a few handmade gifts, but in my haste I forgot to take pictures of many of them! Arrggh! However, I did take pictures of these super cute bags that I made for my secret santa and for my child's teacher. They were both super easy to make with my Cricut Explore (it took me about 20 minutes to make both bags)!

The first bag was made by using an existing graphic from the Cricut subscription library and then using a rectangle and the slice feature to get rid of the words and graphics I didn't want and then typing in the new words and inserting a basketball. I L.O.V.E. the slice feature!


The second bag was made by selecting a graphic from the library, typing the teacher's name, overlapping the two just a little and then welding the graphic andd the letters together. It sounds complicated, but it is literally just a few clicks to make this happen.


Thanks for checking out my post!




Friday, September 12, 2014

Spirit T-Shirts!!! Go BHS Tigers sweet husband got me the new Cricut Explore for my birthday. We made a deal that I would do some football shirts for him. When I originally priced custom t-shirts they started at $20. I knew that with my new gift I could make them for less than that. Using my PC, the Explore and black, gold and white heat transfer vinyl I was able to design, cut and iron the design onto a polo.

While I still have some learning to do I think my first try went really well. I wasn't sure if my iron would get hot enough, but it actually got too hot so now I know that I can lower the heat next time. I also tried my hand at converting a jpeg file to a svg file so that I could use a custom design. It wasn't very difficult, but I think I am going to try to find a cleaner graphic (I pulled it from a google image search so the quality wasn't that great). I can't wait to do shirts for me and the kids. When I do I'll share those as well.




Monday, August 25, 2014

Homemade Pasta!

I bought a pasta roller many months ago with the grand intention of making homemade pasta. Couple that with my growing desire to know what is in my family's food and you've got the perfect storm for actually getting my butt in gear and making it from scratch!

Let me say, the recipe that I ended up using couldn't have been easier! I used the one from one of my favorite books "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter". This book helps families decide whether its worth the time (and money) to make certain things from scratch. It really is a fun read that gives you the recipes and instructions to make many of your family's favorites in the comfort of your own kitchen.

On to the recipe...when you get the flour and eggs mixed up it will look sort of craggy, but this is perfectly fine. Before I started rolling out the dough I cut the big ball into four equal pieces. After I rolled the dough through the first two settings I cut the sheets in half width-wise so that I could actually manage them.

I learned the hard way that its best to continue to dust the pasta sheets with flour so that they don't stick and to go ahead and cut each sheet as you go (I ended up re-rolling a couple of the sheets because they got stuck to each other).

I'm really happy with the way it turned out. The pasta only took two minutes to cook (literally) when I put it in the boiling, salted water. The pasta came out super silky and luscious!

I hope you will take a leap and try your hand at homemade pasta or any of the other recipes in the book. The only drawback will be the fact that your family will want homemade pasta all the time! In the words of my eight year old, "Homemade is always best"! Toodles!








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