Monday, October 17, 2011

Baptism Gift: CTR Towel

My niece and nephew are getting baptized next week. I am so happy for them!! It is also a wonderful opportunity for me to use an idea i came across several months ago, over at Rachel Berry Blog (click on this link for the full tutorial).

I've used this super cute, super simple idea once before, but it was a rush job between an activity and the baptism, and i didn't have time to take a picture. It goes together really fast, and gives them a baptism memento they can use again and again.

The only change i made to the Rachel Berry tutorial was that i traced the CTR template directly onto the Heat & Bond paper (backwards, of course), which made cutting it out a lot easier for me.

 All that's left to do is stitch around the emblems to help them stay put. I was visiting for thanksgiving, and was putting these together to leave behind, since i live far away and won't be around for the baptism. I didn't have time to finish them up, but my mom is going to do it before they're gifted.

I think they look fantastic! Thanks to Rachel Berry for the tutorial!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Link Costume Part II: Boots

from us here in Canada!
Now on to the tute! i promised to have this up last week - oops. :(  My memory is not what it used to be. Mothering three small children can really mess up your memory, focus, and attention span.

Anyway, for my boy's link costume, we had little brown covers that went over his shoes made to look like Link's boots. 

All you'll need for these are a ruler, scissors, brown felt, and a hot glue gun. You can sew it, but i found gluing was faster and easier, and they still held up just fine.

First, decide which shoes your child will wear with the costume and grab one for measuring (left or right - doesn't matter).

- Measure: 1) around the opening (loosely - better too big than too small), 2) from the center back to the front, 3) the height (on the side) from the ankle to the floor, 4) the front from the top of the ankle to the floor,  and 5) the width of the sole. Make sure to add seam allowances - even though we're gluing it all, it still needs to have allowances.

- Decide how tall you want the boots, and how big you want your cuff. The top of the boot is basically a big tube:

Hot glued together at the back and folded over with a slit in the front.

Measurement 1) from above + seam allowance will be the width of your tube.

Hot Glue the edges together and set the tube aside.

Cut two side pieces, which are measurements 2) and 3), and look something like this:

Glue the back edges of the two pieces together (or you could cut it all in one piece if you have a long enough strip of felt).

Cut one front piece, using measurements 4) and 5), in a shape that looks something like this:

Glue the front piece to the side pieces like so:

(still working on getting a photo of this - i'm away from home, and my camera is being fussy, but wanted to get this tutorial up. Glue the long side edge of the front piece, starting at the squared end, to the curved edge of the side piece. make sense?)

Then glue the boot cuff to the foot.

As an added detail (and reinforcement), i glued strips of brown felt about 1/4 - 1/2 an inch wide along most of the seams, and a wider strip as a "sole" around the bottom edge. I would love to show you a picture, but the brown on brown just would NOT show up in a photograph. (I really need a light box)

Then i attached a strip under the shoe to hold the boot cover in place (placing it under the arch so it won't get worn down from walking).

I highly recommend putting velcro on the bottom strap, so they can put the covers on their bare feet, put their shoes on, then pull the boot covers down and secure the strap. Though the opening on the cuff was wide enough to slide the shoe through, it was tricky and annoying.

Make sense? Clear as mud? Let me know if there's something that needs clarifying!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Link Costume Part I: Tunic and Cap

 Two years ago, my husband and my oldest had matching costumes for Halloween; E was really into the Legend of Zelda (his mom and dad were playing Ocarina of Time for a while), so M went as Big Link and E went as Little Link. My cousin has a boy who wants to be Link for Halloween, so i'm writing up the tutorial for the costume i made. It was easy-peasy, and most people were able to figure out who he was (though those unfamiliar with Zelda were guessing Christmas elf or Peter Pan).

Since i don't have time or resources to make another costume, i'm just going to show you the finished product, and some paper shapes to guide you through (hopefully well enough for you to learn how to do it). Click on photos to make them bigger.

You will need:
-Green Felt by the yard
-a piece of leather lacing
-a hot glue gun
-a sewing machine
-white or cream colored long johns
-measuring tape
-your child

For the Tunic:

- Measure your child from shoulder to shoulder and add an inch or two to that number. Then measure from shoulder to knee and double it. Cut a rectangle of green felt that size - this is the body.

Fold it in half twice and mark the top folded corner - the center of the fabric.  Cut slits in the shape of a T on the shoulders and front, each starting at the center mark.
-The top of the T should only have to be slightly wider than your child's neck, and the bottom of the T long enough to make a big enough gap to comfortably get their head through.

-Now measure your child from shoulder to elbow and around their upper arm, loosely so it's slightly wider than a t-shirt would hang (Does that make sense? You could also just get one of their shirts and measure that). Cut two rectangles from those measurements, match their centers to the center fold on the body and sew them to the sides of the body. 

Fold the tunic in half, wrong sides together and sew an L from the edge of the sleeve down to the body. STOP sewing and backstitch about three or four inches from the bottom of the body.

Sew the seam allowances down to keep the slits open. The nice thing about felt is that you don't have to finish the edges of the sleeve, neck, and bottom if you don't want to! Punch three or four sets of holes at the neck to lace your leather string through - just make sure they're far enough from the top so that the collar flaps can open up. I'm sorry i don't have a real photo - refer to the top photo, you can kind of see it.

Layer over cream colored long johns.

Link's Stocking Cap:

Measure your child's head where you want the cap to sit. Add a seam allowance and cut out a shape of green felt similar to this one:
Perfection doesn't make a ton of difference, as long as there's enough width to accommodate your child's head in the first three or four inches. The center height (from bottom to point) should be roughly the same as the width of the bottom.

Fold in half and sew the edges together. It may seem confusing (i get thrown by it every time), but the front is the short, straight edge, so the seam will be underneath. Make sure the cap fits your child's head (slightly loosely) before you add the band.

Cut a strip of green felt the same length as the child's head circumference and about two inches wide. Fold it over the edge of the hat and hot glue in place. This reinforces the edge and keeps it from stretching out too easily.

Part II: Link's Boots

Monday, September 26, 2011

Learning To Can

Sorry I've been MIA the last couple months. I haven't really felt inspired to blog lately. Hopefully that'll change soon.

Anyway, I just wanted to drop in quickly and share something that has inspired me - I learned how to can this fall! I know, I know, as a good little Mormon homemaker, i SHOULD know how to can already, but i just never learned. Probably mostly because of the fact that i'm not big on canned peaches, and i also worry too much about doing it wrong and giving everyone food poisoning.

Anyway, i have a wonderful friend who has all kinds of jars and equipment, and I had a Saskatoon berry bush in my backyard that i had no idea what to do with, so she taught me how to make Saskatoon berry syrup (yum)! Then, another friend informed us that he had an over-abundance of crab apples on his trees, so i got to learn how to can those too!

First we did apple juice and apple sauce. it was so easy! My friend has a steam juicer, so we steamed the heck out of those little red apples (they were SO red and perfect!) and canned the juice, then put the soggy apples through a food mill and canned the pulp, which made delicious apple sauce (though i can't stand anything too tart, so i had to add sugar to mine)! i just LOVE the way these jars look on my shelf! So gorgeous!

I promise i didn't add a thing to them (besides sugar to the sauce) - the apples were just THAT red! The juice is like a concentrate - we add two or three jars of water and a little sugar to make a delicious drink! They'll also make fantastic cider in the winter!

Then I found myself with a ton more apples, and i borrowed my friend's juicer and food mill to try something different. I found a recipe for Apple Butter over at "Mennonite Girls Can Cook". It sounded delicious! So i tried it. All by myself I steamed, pulped, cooked, and canned just over 20 cups of apple butter! It smelled like Christmas in my house all day long, and talk about delicious! It tastes like apple cider, and every time i spread it on toast (or sandwiches, or biscuits, or muffins...) i get a nice big bite of Christmassy flavor!

I canned the apple butter in 1 cup jars, and intend to give them away as Christmas treats for friends and neighbors (while saving plenty for myself of course).

There's something very empowering about learning how to can - especially learning to can things i know i'll actually use (I'm doing pears this week!!). I don't know if i'm excited about saving money, learning a new skill, being self reliant, or having delicious preserves - maybe a combination of all of the above - but i have thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Trying Something New, Food Edition: Quinoa


(don't pronounce it phonetically, like i did for the longest time - apparently it's "KEEN-wa")

I've heard a lot about it, particularly on Spark People. People go crazy over this food. "It's amazingly delicious, it incredibly healthy, it's a SUPERFOOD!"

Well, i made up my mind to try it. I had to really hunt for it - up where i live, none of the big stores have it - even in their natural food section. There is a natural food store in town, but i get uncomfortable going in there - they watch you hawkishly while you browse, and if you enlist their help with finding something, you MUST buy it immediately, or suffer their disappointed scowls (don't even think about going in just to check availability/price on something!).

Anyway, I finally found it in a bulk bin at Superstore when i was in Lethbridge visiting family. I only bought two cups worth, didn't weigh it myself, and forgot to check my receipt afterwards, so i have no idea whether or not it was expensive - it was more expensive than the rice, i know that. But i was curious, and wanted to try it.

It naturally produces a bitter outer coating (to protect itself against animals) which has to be rinsed off before you can eat it. Tip: since the grain is so small, i lined my colander with a paper towel - it kept all the quinoa contained while i rinsed it. 

There are so many ways to cook quinoa - the recipes i researched had it used in a dinner meal in place of rice, so that's how i prepared mine.

I cooked 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of chicken broth, and tossed it with a stir-fry of chicken, bell peppers (all colors!), onions, and garlic. it was incredible! I am an official convert. Even my boys loved it (though i must admit i am blessed with relatively adventurous boys). 

Here's a little more about this seed from Canadian Living:

"Regarded as a sacred food by the Incas, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) provides a wide range of vitamins and minerals. This supergrain seed contains more protein than most cereal grains (22 grams per one cup/250 millilitres uncooked quinoa) and is considered a complete protein because it contains all eight of the essential amino acids we need for tissue development.
Quinoa is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc, and lower in sodium compared with wheat, barley and corn. This gluten-free grain also receives an honourable mention for being low in saturated fat (one gram of fat per one cup/250 millilitres uncooked quinoa).
Dietary uses: Quinoa can be substituted for most hot cereals and is a good replacement for rice. Cook it like porridge, include it in casseroles or stews, or add it (steamed, toasted or baked) to soups, salads or desserts. You can also use ground quinoa in breads, cookies, puddings, muffins and pasta. It's available in most grocery and health food stores."
(from "Top Ten Superfoods: Goji Berries, Cinnamon, Turmeric, and more")

I have one more cup of it left, and i think i might try it in a sweet breakfast recipe...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Recipe Time: Healthy Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookies

hi there!! Our family just recently returned from a trip south to visit our family and spend some time together sight-seeing. We had an awesome time!

 It's taking some time to get back into the swing of things. Luckily, i had this post halfway completed before i left!

For our trip, i wanted to pack a good selection of healthy foods that wouldn't spoil in the heat, and are nourishing and balanced enough to sustain us without having to spend a fortune on fast food (especially at the Zoo, where a mere hamburger can cost you a weeks pay).

Since i make my own granola, i had thought to make granola bars, but i just couldn't find a recipe i liked. Then i stumbled upon this recipe for "healthy" cookies.

I read the comments section to get other people's opinions and adjustments, and decided to make my own adjustments. Normally i'm all for making the recipe as it's written first, but for this one i preferred to use the framework and adjust for my own tastes and what i had on hand.

These are so delicious! Even the kids love them! And i love that they're getting something nutritious and think of it as a wonderful treat! 

Healthy, Nutty, Chocolate Chip Cookies
2/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. wheat germ
2 tbsp. ground flax
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped almonds
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/4 c. mini chocolate chips (mini chips get dispersed more evenly than big ones)

Cream together applesauce and sugar with electric mixer. add egg and vanilla and mix well. Blend in flour,  rolled oats, wheat germ, flax, baking soda, baking powder and salt, scraping sides with spatula so everything is mixed evenly. Stir in almonds, sunflower seeds and chocolate chips. 

Drop on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or coated with non-stick spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Makes 3 dozen

And thanks to, here is a breakdown of the nutritional content per cookie:

Nutrition Facts

  36 Servings

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 62.9
  Total Fat 2.1 g
      Saturated Fat 0.4 g
      Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
      Monounsaturated Fat 0.8 g
  Cholesterol 5.4 mg
  Sodium 37.7 mg
  Potassium 65.4 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 10.2 g
      Dietary Fiber 1.1 g
      Sugars 3.3 g
  Protein 2.0 g

  Vitamin A 3.8 %
  Vitamin B-12 0.3 %
  Vitamin B-6 6.1 %
  Vitamin C 0.1 %
  Vitamin D 0.3 %
  Vitamin E 4.2 %
  Calcium 3.0 %
  Copper 3.6 %
  Folate 6.4 %
  Iron 6.6 %
  Magnesium 3.9 %
  Manganese 21.2 %
  Niacin 5.4 %
  Pantothenic Acid     1.7 %
  Phosphorus     5.6 %
  Riboflavin 4.8 %
  Selenium 7.1 %
  Thiamin 8.4 %
  Zinc 3.0 %