"Lo, Children Are An Heritage of the LORD: and the Fruit of the Womb is His Reward" - Psalm 127:3

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Homemade Sloppy Joes

I'll start by saying this was a spur of the moment recipe, which I came up with because I needed to try the french fries I bought for 79 cents/bag before the sale ended so I would know if I wanted to buy more of them for that ridiculously low price. (They were excellent - I'll probably buy a case of them :) So, for those of you who don't mind cooking with vague instructions, this recipe is for you. I had to take this first picture because it was so pretty in the pan. I started by sauteing diced onion, celery, yellow and red peppers in a little butter. (Oh who are we kidding - I can't afford real butter. I used the cheapest margarine I could find!)

Once the veggies were beautifully sauteed, I added raw ground beef, and cooked it all until the beef was done. (I might add that this particular ground beef was from a cow raised on my husband's uncle's ranch. We split a cow with his parents, so my freezer is well stocked...)

After the beef was cooked through, I added a little Montreal Steak seasoning, a bit of Famous Dave's BBQ sauce, and maybe 1/4 cup of ketchup. (I told you this was going to be vague!) When I tasted it, I thought it was way too overpowering (I'll chalk that up to too much bbq sauce) so I added beef broth and cooked it down. That mellowed it perfectly. Everyone agreed that it was a million times better than the canned stuff. It wasn't hard either. The hardest thing was chopping the veggies, but I love to do that. I find it therapeutic :) Anyway, next time I will cut back a bit on the steak seasoning. My 6 year old thought it was a bit too spicy... but he still cleaned his plate ;)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Well, I haven't had much time to blog since my daycare became licensed on the 15th. It's been so fun!! Really! So yesterday, a new little boy joined our crew, and brought with him the *cutest* blanket. I'm really going to have to make one of these. I measured and plotted it all out last night, but I'm sure I'm going to need a pattern for the pinwheel section. Anyway, this is sooooo cute. The quilting is exceptional too. I couldn't get a good picture of it, but on the inner border the fabric has fish on it, and the quilting is all little fish. The outside border is flowers and bumble bees and every other section has different patterns of quilting. The pinwheel section was quilted outlining the pinwheels. My quilting skills are nowhere near this level, but I L-O-V-E the quilt! I'm inspired!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Golden Birthday

Today we celebrated a golden birthday - 6 years old on the 6th. Happy Birthday N!!!! He decided he wanted a Noah's Ark cake. Yesterday it was going to be a dinosaur, so we had to do some quick thinking and make a trip to the grocery store for frosted animal cookies.

It was a really simple cake to make - much easier than the dinosaur I had planned. I baked the body of the ark in a pyrex bowl, and the top in a rectangular muffin tin. I intentionally overfilled the muffin tin so the top would bulge out and make a rooftop. I only had white frosting on hand, so I added cocoa and microwaved it a little while to get it soft enough to frost. I used white frosting on the sides of the muffin part and brown on top, and made a window with blue frosting, using brown for shutters. I sorted through the animal cookies and found a few pairs and stuck them on top of the cake.

The original plan was to make a single layer round cake and frost it blue, putting gummy sharks around in the water, and then stick the ark on top of that. I was going to make mini cupcakes and stand the animal cookies up on them. But we're not big cake eaters and it would have taken two cake mixes worth of batter to do all that. We never would have gotten through that much cake, so a simple ark it was. I think it turned out pretty cute.

He was pretty pleased with the cake. He had a nice birthday, even if it was a little hectic. He went skiing all day (you can see his hair is messed up from his helmet). Then the restaurant he wanted to go to was closed so we had to go somewhere else. The place he had picked is a restaurant that is a summer hangout - a place with shakes and ice cream cones. I thought he wanted a shake, but he really wanted a cone. So we compromised by going to the grocery store and letting him pick a carton of ice cream (he chose Peppermint Stick) and buy waffle cones.

While we're talking about birthday cakes, and since I never blogged about it, here's the one I made my youngest when he turned one last November.

It's a car - not any particular car, but done in the style of the movie "Cars" with a smile and eyes.

I had a pan in the car shape because my just-turned-six-year-old wanted a race car cake when he turned 4. I frosted it with the whipped cream frosting (made by adding powdered sugar to whipped cream) and decorated with blue gel icing in a squeeze tube.

The T on the back is for the first letter of his name.

Maybe sometime soon I'll put together a post of all the fun cakes I've done in the past. I've had a lot of fun with them!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sewing in a Garage in Wyoming all Winter? Yep!

So I thought I would give you a little peek into my sewing room, which is in my garage. I live in Wyoming and yes, I sew year-round. So why is this in my garage? Space. Or the lack thereof. We live in a very nice two bedroom duplex graciously provided by my husband's employer. We are very thankful for the housing, because we would easily have to pay $1500 for this place if it wasn't a job benefit. Crazy housing prices here due to an oil and gas boom and a shortage of housing in our town. As much as we love our house (and we really do) we have a space problem. We have 4 children (yes, in a two bedroom), the oldest of which has recently moved out, making a little improvement in our confinement issues. Besides that, I run a licensed home daycare. So, there is absolutely no space inside for a sewing room. I decided the moment we moved in (several years ago) that I would set up my sewing room in the garage. Well, here it is...

So let me give you a little tour. Starting on the left is my shelving unit with most of my fabric stash in plastic tubs. Next to that is my regular home sewing machine, followed by an antique dresser from my grandmother which houses current projects and supplies. In the corner is my dressmaker form, which I pull out when I need it. Also in the back of that corner is my serger, stored in its box when I'm not using it. Straight ahead in the photo is my industrial machine - which is my go-to machine for almost everything. Above the industrial machine, I have both of my grandmothers' sewing machines. I consider that a treasure because they both had a great impact on my desire to sew. There are several other boxes of sewing supplies on the shelves there. Under the industrial machine is a small 3-drawer cabinet which holds all the things I need to reach while sewing - scissors, chalk and pencils, scraps of denim for repairing jeans, jean buttons, an assortment of my most-used threads, small tape measures, etc. I also keep my hot glue gun there and an assortment of cute fat quarters. All sewing machine supplies - bobbins, extra needles and the instruction book for the machine are housed with the machines. The industrial machine table has a drawer for all this stuff. Moving on to the right of the industrial machine is my ironing board. Two tall cabinets with doors are in the corner. One holds supplies - thread, patterns, elastic and other notions, rulers, etc. and both hold fabric and yarn supplies. Behind that I have a very large folding table which I can pull out when I need it. Next to the white cabinets is my chest freezer. I use this as a cutting table. It's the perfect height. I put a big area rug down, which helps define the space, keeps me warm, and makes it a lot easier to stand for longer periods of time while I cut fabric and iron. Considering the circumstances, I'm really happy with my sewing space!!

This is my main fabric stash. Here's a breakdown of what's on the shelves: top - upholstery fabrics, Christmas fabrics and "girl" fabric (because my one-year-old boy was supposed to be a girl). Second shelf - batting and stuffing, and a too-large box of works in progress (sounds better than unfinished projects, doesn't it?) The third shelf holds all my favorite fabrics - mostly dress making/clothing making fabrics. I only wear skirts (unless I'm skiing or on a snowmobile) so I have a lot of skirt fabric. The big tub on the fourth shelf is dress quality material that I picked up at a mill in North Carolina that was going out of business when we lived there - tons of fabric for pennies!!! My kind of sale. I actually used a lot of that fabric to make costumes for our whole church to do a big Christmas play while we were in North Carolina. Next to that is a couple of bags of fabrics I need to list on ebay. I actually have another large tub and three more bags of fabrics that need to go on ebay. The bottom shelf has a box of denim jeans waiting to be made into a quilt. I picked them up at a thrift store that was having a sale - all you could stuff into a large bag for a dollar. Then there's an assortment of fabric that didn't fit into any other category, followed by a box of nylon and cordura scraps from a bag factory I used to work at ages ago.

This is the messy area :) The dresser has a shelf I need to repair, and the fish tank is not normally stored under my sewing machine table. I bought the small sewing machine table at a yard sale for $20, but my machine doesn't have the ability to hook into it properly, so I built a shelf inside it which my machine sits down on, low enough that the table is at the same level as the sewing surface on the machine. The top of this table folds out to the left, doubling the workspace. I can't tell you how much easier it is to sew with the fabric at the same height as the machine. I don't think I could sew without it!

Lighting is an issue in the garage, especially since the 4-light flourescent fixture in this area needs to be replaced. To solve the problem I put several lamps and other lights around the room. I can't wait to get that main fixture replaced though. When it's nice, I usually open the garage door for more light. But for now, I have a lamp on the dresser, a three bulb free standing light in the corner aimed at the sewing area, and a 2 bulb fixture on the shelf above my industrial machine, in addition to the light mounted on my industrial sewing machine table. I have everything plugged into two surge protectors so when I need to sew, I just flip the switch on each surge protector rather than having to turn on every light individually.

This is the inside of my two white cabinets with doors. They are each about 6 1/2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The one on the left holds all my extra thread, boxes of patterns, a box full of different widths of elastic, trims, seam tape, buttons, zippers, safety pins and other notions, and some of the larger projects I'm working on. The cabinet on the right is all fabrics and yarn, as well as all of my crochet supplies. My sewing books and magazines (I don't have many) are in the top of the cabinet on the left, just out of sight in the picture.

The chest freezer is the perfect size for my cutting board, and is just the right height to keep me from getting a back ache. Between the freezer and the white cabinets are a couple of rolls of upholstery fabric.

When I'm not sewing, I hang the mat and ruler on the wall behind the freezer. Above the freezer, clear at the top of the wall, we mounted a closet rack, which holds off-season jackets and snowpants, and a few bolts of fabric. It's a little cave-like, but it suits my needs. I am so thankful to have a space where I can go and immediately be creative, rather than having to lug out all of my supplies. That way I can use those "few spare minutes" productively, and I can find everything. It may not be as pretty as some of the nice sewing rooms I've seen online, but I think it suits me perfectly. I really do sew year-round in here, and I accomplish quite a lot. Oh, and about heat? The garage is well insulated and finished with drywall, and I have a propane space heater ;) Hope you enjoyed the tour!!