May 30, 2010

Sunday is a Crappy Day for a Yard Sale

I have come to the conclusion that Sunday is a crappy day for a yard sale! Saturday went pretty well and we made $25ish dollars on junk we had stuffed in boxes in the closet. It was kinda like finding $25 dollars in the pocket of a jacket you haven't worn in awhile. Except, it's too hot for jackets in California this time of year. And now we have more room in our closet.

Other random thoughts:

Why is it that you won't see a single fly in a 10 mile radius, but as soon as you open the door for 10 seconds... you have 100 flies in the house?!

Babies should come in a standard size so that baby clothes can come in a standard size too. How can two onesies be polar opposites in size, yet both are labled as "3-6 months"? I don't get it.

Lindt Lindor Truffles are godly and Hershey's tastes like dirt. If I still had a gallbladder and no fear of an ever increasing waist-line, I would eat a bag of Lindor Truffles every. single. bloody. day. And now they have a new flavor! Oh my... don't get me started.

Father's Day is just around the corner and I can't think of a nice and simple gift for Pops. What do you get the man in your life that hates everything? Pops might be a bust, but Husband should be fairly easy...

I almost need a whole new wardrobe. My pre-pregnancy clothes are a bit too small and my maternity clothes are either A)too baggy or B)look ridiculous without a huge bump. My mother recently found me some ribbed tanks and tees and they hide the post-pregnancy flab and breast-pads... any better ideas? I'd like to ingeniously hide any evidence of baby weight until I can loose it which might not be anytime soon (refer back to truffle comment).

Hope you don't mind my babbling. Have a great 3-day weekend!

May 28, 2010

Felt Alphabet Soup

I got "abc" blocks awhile back for the Camster, but I thought something a little more travel friendly was in order. Thirty-five wooden blocks don't compact well... not as well as felt! I think the more you read this blog, the more you will understand my love-affair with felt. No hems, no unraveling as you hand sew, you can find it just about anywhere, and it's soft. <3 <--- that's a heart by the way...

Wanna make your own felt letters? Well you're in luck folks! I just happened to put together a little tutorial for ya!

First, print out the whole alphabet in a bold 3 inch sized font. I even printed mine out in orange as to conserve my precious black ink. Cut them out and arrange them on the felt so there is a 1/4 inch gap between them for cutting.

Sorry if it's hard to see (crappy indoor camera shots), but next outline the letters with a pen. I used a regular ball point pen because it will be covered up later with fancy pantsy embroidery, but you should probably use a sewing pen with washable ink.

Then sew along your pen line, but leave a gap so you can stuff it later. Don't forget the inside of your "O"!

Cut your letter out with a small small small seam allowance so your stitches don't bust. Don't forget the inside of your "O"!

Stuff it, sew the gap left for stuffing closed, and VOILA! Pretty felt letters! It might also be a good idea to make doubles of the commonly used letters or extra letters you need to spell your child's name. Have fun!

May 26, 2010

Good Eats

Husband and I tried a recipe from this food blog and it was FABULOUS! I am in the process of reading all of the archives to find more yummy recipes to make my husband cook for me (*wink*).

Here it goes:

Spinach and Cheese Strata
From Smitten Kitchen and Adapted from Gourmet (sniffle), February 2003

Serves 6 to 8

1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed, squeeze of all excess liquid, and chopped
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed French or Italian bread in 1-inch cubes (1/2 lb)
6 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
2 ounces finely grated parmesan (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Sauté onion in butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking for one minute. Stir in spinach, remove from heat and set aside.

Spread one third of the bread cubes in a well-buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other ceramic baking dish. Top with one-third of bread cubes,one-third of spinach mixture and one-third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice with remaining bread, spinach and cheese.

Whisk eggs, milk, mustard and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Cover with plastic wrap and chill strata for eat least 8 hours or up to a day.

The next day, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350°F. Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

May 23, 2010

Compilation of the Last Few Days

I haven't had enough to blog about the past couple days to warrant a full post (and I'd hate to be chintzy) so I'll cram it all together and fluff it up a bit like I used to to with essays in high school... here it goes:


My mother is an art teacher at a local elementary school and every year for "Open House" she compiles (common theme here or what?) all the kid's art from the year and hangs it up -art gallery style- as an art show.

It took me and Camster a few days earlier in the week to weed through what work was done and what wasn't, so Thursday it came down to hanging it all up. This isn't a very large school mind you, but there is A LOT of artwork by the end of the year! My grandmother (aka: G3) came up to join the long day's task of taping and hanging. I would have gotten a picture of the four generations preparing an art show, but again... we were busy preparing an art show. I will note however that the Camster was very well behaved in her "Small Paul" monkey front pack and let me work away most of the day without complaint (not counting regular feedings of course).


All the Camster and I did was go over to my mom's class to torture help keep an eye on the lemmings kids as they worked on some busy work free draw. It is the end of the year of course.


Husband, Camster, and I all trucked it over to Columbia State Park. Well... maybe not "trucked it"... we Chevy Cavaliered it over to Columbia. For anyone who has never been to Columbia, California, you must go! I think in a week or two they are having some sort of "tent town". I'm not sure exactly what it entails, but it is something along the lines of a frontier town in the middle of the park with vendors and performers and such. Add them to your Facebook for details. Don't have Facebook? Then you stink!

Anyhoo- we Cavaliered it over to Columbia State Park. Our first stop is always the Columbia Candle & Soap Works shop. If you don't stop in to take in the aromas... then go in to meet Bubba. He is a very famous candle shop cat. We said our hellos to Bubba and sniffed out the goodies. Husband picked out a little Nag Champa candle to test out in our living room. Again, I would have taken a picture, but it's already half way burned and it wouldn't do the candle justise.

Then we walked over to the only other thing I'm interested in.... the candy shop! The Columbia Candy Kitchen!!! Oh. Dear. God. Yum. Don't go to the Candy Kitchen unless you don't mind gaining a few pounds. They didn't have my favorite-- milk chocolate turtles, but it did force me to try something new. I got the pecan log (something yummy and sweet and creamy covered in carmel and toasted? pecans) and Husband got the milk chocolate covered peanut butter square. I didn't try his because I hate that combination, and he didn't try mine because he hates nuts. Fine with me. Then the two and a half of us walked around the streets for a little while (Camster in the monkey pack), looked at the blacksmith shop, and said hello to the chickens on our way out. It was too windy for us. AGAIN, I would have taken pictures, but Husband forgot the camera in the car. I tried.


We did nothing today but sit around in our pj's watching scary movies and drumming. We figure we have a few more months to enjoy our beloved horror films before they are replaced with other horrors: Care Bears, Barney, Sesame Street, Dora the Exploasomething. Do they even make Care Bears anymore? Shows what I know...

May 20, 2010

DIY Teepee

UPDATE September 2011: Because of the mass interest in a DIY teepee I have recently created a tutorial on how I made my own 6 foot tall teepee. Just follow this link:

I was perusing the internet this morning... as usual... and found this cute idea! I've seen kids teepees before, but this one has a modern look to it. I thought I would make a larger scale one this summer for Camster and all four of her cousins to play in. Five little girls would warrant a much more girly design.

Luckily this pattern is very adjustable and should give you a good idea of where to start. I think I'll make mine out of canvas (I can buy it by the yard at the local variety store) and pvc pipe (OSH Supply). I will be sure to upload pictures of my version once I make it next month sometime.

Happy teepee-ing!

May 18, 2010

Mom-Talk Etiquette

Yesterday myself, my husband, and Camster went over to my parents house for dinner.  My aunt also joined us for kabobs (I know... we seem like big kabob eaters now). But when my aunt arrived, it seemed like the only thing I had to talk about was Camster. Does this happen to anyone else? Granted- I have only been a stay-at-home mom for a little over three months, but all I do is play with a baby. It's not like I lead a very exciting life otherwise.

I just feel awkward. Maybe because I always hated when mothers had nothing better to talk about than their children. Now that I am a mother, I know why. There is nothing else going on! Every single thing I do throughout the day involves my baby in one way or another.

When people ask you 'What's new?', are they asking knowing that the answer will inevitably involve some story about how your kid gave you her first wink or had really explosive diarrhea at a restaurant? I can never tell if people are sincerely curious about what we've been up to or if they are just being polite. I'm having trouble finding a happy medium in conversations.

Is there an etiquette for mom talk? Perhaps a 20 or 30 second time limit? Maybe a certain mom-talk to adult-talk ratio? Or restraints on content? If so, someone needs to fill me in.

May 17, 2010

DIYODS Play Kitchen: part III

DIYODS "Do It Your Own Damn Self" Play Kitchen: part III

Remember on the part II post where I said that hinges are evil? Well I further proved that point when I worked on the play kitchen yesterday. It turns out that trying to attach hinged doors to beveled corners is the cause of all my tears. I suppose that is a direct result of me trying to convert a desk into something with doors instead of drawers. ARG!

On to part III:

Yay! The silicone caulking worked! I was actually surprised since the plexi-glass piece was smaller than the hole by about 1/8 of an inch all the way around (oops). The silicone held it in remarkably well so we scraped the excess off the plexi-glass and attached some hinges.

It wasn't easy, but we managed to turn the beveled edge into 90-ish degree angle with the help of some paint sticks. The door doesn't open all the way so next time I will attach the chain I bought in order to stabilize the door against rough use.

The oven door is a bit more secure with a magnetic closure in place.

Now go take a walk...

May 16, 2010

National Make-up Your Own Doll Pattern Day

Not really. But doesn't it seem like there are "national holidays" for all kinds of ridiculous things? Like "Talk Like a Pirate Day"... how silly! I'm sure there are tons of people participate, but if someone started talking like a pirate to me -seemingly randomly- I would think they were crazy no matter how well intentioned.

So on this officially appointed "National Make-up Your Own Doll Pattern Day", I have done just that. Sorry the pictures are so fuzzy and discolored... my camera is pretty crappy and only takes decent pictures outdoors :( AND I was too lazy this morning to properly Photoshop them.

Firstly, I cut out 4 leg shapes, 4 arm shapes, 2 head shapes, and 2 body shapes. In order to make the head and body more 3D, I also cut out a straight strip of fabric for each to attach as a side. Then I sewed everything together making 2 legs, 2 arms, a head, and a body leaving the tops open to flip right-side-out and stuff.

Before I stuffed the body and head, I sewed them together at the bust line. I only flipped the top of the body inwards because I thought it looked too long and was too lazy to cut it. I'm really lazy today. Look Grammy! I'm using pins for once and not just winging it! She would be so proud...

Ta da! Ready to stuff!

Now I've sewn the arms on and am getting ready to sew on the legs.

I actually got all fancy here and made stitches on the hand to create fingers... ooo la la! Man, my camera sucks! It's there I swear!

Here I have hand stitched some facial features and hand stitched yarn hair on Dolly's head. A little tip for the yarn hair: Pin the hair on how you like it, mega-stitch the hair line with heavy duty thread, and then stitch down the rest in key places to keep the hairdo from moving... or being ripped out by baby/kid.

May 13, 2010

DIYODS Play Kitchen: part II

Another round of DIYODS "Do It Your Own Damn Self" Play Kitchen. Mission: to repurpose a ratty desk into a fab play kitchen for my daughter. Skill level: Moderate to WTFudge

Part II begins with some lessons I've learned thus far.
1. silicone caulking is your god!
2. it's a bad idea to cut a hole in the "oven" door to later insert a small piece of plexi-glass... instead, find a way to just attach it to the back
3. hinges are not user friendly
4. don't try to use the faces of the drawers for the doors... it's just a bad idea that leads to tears

Almost the "before" picture... I forgot to take one when we started working on it last week. Here we had already cut the hole for the sink and used the original drawer sides for bottoms of the microwave and oven spaces. There also used to be a thin drawer below where the sink is now that we removed last week.

I drilled holes and installed the knobs for the faucet (hot/cold) and for the 4 stove top knobs. My husband cut a piece of particle board for the oven door and cut a hole in it to insert a piece of scrap plexi-glass with silicone caulking (keep your fingers crossed on that one!)

Do not do this... if you are trying to use the drawer face... STOP. I'm just trying to save you an hour of blood, tears, and verbal censorship. Just suck it up and use a piece of particle board.

My husband installing the -particle board- microwave door since the oven door is still drying. What a handsome man!

Camster asleep on the job... she could have at least helped her dad hold the board steady! Jeez...

So far for this project we have spent $11.00 on hinges, chain (for the oven door), magnetic latch for microwave and oven doors, and a plastic plumbing elbow to use as a faucet. Everything else was free.

DIYODS Play Kitchen Part III will be coming soon!

May 11, 2010

Bebe: Swimsuit Edition

Sometimes I amaze myself with my thrifty-ness. Let's just say, I HATE spending money on things I can make out of other things I don't like. So I don't. Exhibit A: Today I was thinking that summer swimmin' weather is nearly upon us and Camster doesn't have a little swimsuit! My 4 nieces come up for a week every summer to visit. My mom and I take them to the local lake to do some swimmin', inter-tubin', and ice cream eatin'. All of which require a nifty thrifty swimsuit.

Now, being my cheap self, I decided to make one. Instantly I thought of a maternity swimsuit I wore once while I was 7 months pregnant. You know the "tankini" type with the stomach panel in front... anywho- I whipped that thing out and started snipping!

Here's how you can do it too:

1. I basically just took one of her onesies that is a tad too big (that way the swimsuit fits next month when she'll use it) and traced around it to get the right shape and size.

2. Cut 2 (a front and a back) from the shape you traced. Don't forget to cut 1/4 inch out from your line for seam allowance! I also cut out a scoop neck on the back for style *wink wink*. Sporty right?!

3. Use a zig-zag stitch to sew the front and back pieces together at the sides and straps. Then fold over 1/4 inch and hem the arm holes, neck holes, and around the bottom. The zig-zag stitch helps the fabric maintain the 2-way stretch.  You could make a baby swimsuit out of any 2-way stretch fabric such as "jersey".

4. Add a closure to the bottom. I cut the snap bottom off of a onesie that Camster didn't fit in anymore (and was stained from accidentally going through a load of parental clothing) and sewed it onto the open bottom in order to make diapers easily accessible.

Here's the finished product. I will upload some pictures of her wearing it once we make it to the lake in a few weeks. It's not quite warm enough for a photo shoot yet...

May 10, 2010

First Mother's Day-- check!

So yesterday was my very first Mother's Day and it went quite well. My dad aptly dubbed it the best Mother's Day he'd ever had! I suppose I will have to come up with something on par for Father's Day since it's just around the corner.

We started out by giving the Camster a bath and dressing her in her Sunday best complete with coordinating hair accessories. Then (with sleepy baby in tow) we headed off to the grocery store to pick-up ingredients for special lamb kabobs... mmm. Our mouths were watering just reading the list! We also picked up some Spring mix salad, crumbled feta, pine nuts, and a vinaigrette to go with and also chibatta bread for a balanced plate. Look for the recipe below to enjoy your own batch of my Grammy's Lambys, or rather, Cami's Great-Grammy's Lambys! Or not. Either way.

Anywho- once the three of us arrived at my parents house Camster was bombarded with cameras like the damn paparazzi! Well... there were really only two cameras, but my mom was using that flash like there was no tomorrow.

All of the boys (Pops, Husband, and Brother#2) went outside to work on my brother's tow-trailer brake lights while us girls (myself, Camster, Mom, and Niece#2) stood around inside eating bread and hummus. Yummus! I'm in a bit of a rhyming mood today as you can tell. I'm actually waiting on Husband to bring home some truffles this very second, which are my secret addiction in addition to Columbia Candy Kitchen's Milk Chocolate Turtles, BUT I DIGRESS... So I gave my mom her present, a picture of me and Camster in a sweet Mother's Day frame. Needless to say, she loved it. Probably since it is so difficult for her to get a non-blurry picture of Camster and a non-tongue-sticking-out picture of me. What can I say? I'm 23 and still can't help but make silly faces in pictures.

We called the boys in once dinner was ready and everyone shuffled about washing up and grabbing last minute items for the table. The group started talking and got on the subject of the last time any of us had had kabobs. It had been a few years for most of us, but had been more like 10 years for either of my parents. How long has it been for you? Hopefully not a lengthy 10 years! That is an abomination to kabobs! BUT I DIGRESS... again...

A good meal was had by all and we finished up the evening with fruit topped mousse cake and the season finale of The Amazing Race (the cowboys should have won). I had never eaten mousse cake before and actually bought it thinking it was cheesecake. It reminds me of a thin angels food cake with tons of whipped cream. Pretty good! The perfect end to my first Mother's Day and my mother's 23rd Mother's Day. Love ya Mom! I hope you had a fantastic holiday and hats off to all ya baby mamas and the work you do!

Grammy's Lamby Kabobs (serves 6)

Combine in a bowl to marinate 4-5 hours:
3 lbs. lamb chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 cup red wine
1 medium yellow onion
1 teaspoon meat tenderizer
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon each of mint, rosemary, and oregano
1 handful of cilantro
Skewer together on greased skewers:
marinated lamb
3-4 orange or green bell peppers
4 yellow squash
white onion squares
cherry tomatoes
Brush with melted butter and grill for 15-20 minutes flipping kabobs half way through the cook time.

May 8, 2010

Review of 5 Different Cloth Diapers

From the get-go we knew we wanted to do cloth diapering with Camster. Unfortunately, when she was first born, Camster weighed a small 7 pounds and didn't quite fit into the diapers we already had. So we used "premee" and "newborn" sized disposable diapers until she was big enough. Having used both, I can tell you -hands down- cloth is better. I tried five which may sound like a lot, but there are so many more on the market. It's crazy. Our favorite is SmartiPants because of their overall performance. Here is my personal view on what I've tried.

Traditional Flat Fold Diaper with Plastic Pants:
These are SUPER cheap... maybe 50 cents a diaper, but you also need pins and plastic waterproof pants to go over them. The plastic pants are a b!#@h to find! Camster had skinny legs too, so we usually had to tuck the leg holes into the diaper to keep it together. We won't even go into pins... I'm sure you can imagine the annoyance.

Velcro Flat Fold Diaper with Plastic Pants:
Don't bother. I didn't even get through one use with these because the velcro closures and their placement on the diaper were designed by a moron.

Bum Genius: These include a cover, a snap in waterproof liner, and multiple flushable inserts. I loved the idea of making it eco-friendly and flushable. They made it so it would be more like a disposable in that it doesn't sit around smelling up the house. However, it takes too long to get through a diaper change. I want to be in and out in 10 seconds... not hanging around the toilet trying to disassemble this liner!

FuzziBunz: I actually LOVED these! Not only do you just shove the reuseable insert into the pocket and go, but they are cute! I got a red, a green with daisies, and a purple with daisies. The inside is lined with micro fleece to keep moisture off your little one and prevents diaper rash. The insert, which goes inside the pocket, is micro fiber and absorbs an ungodly amount of moisture. The outside feels like cloth, but is waterproof so no need for those awful plastic pants. They have a row of snap closures to adjust the leg and waist sizes so one size will fit almost to potty training and there are no unsightly leaks.

SmartiPants: These have all the same properties as the FuzziBunz (micro fleece liner, micro fiber inserts, waterproof outer shell, and adjustable snap closures), but with a twist. SmartiPants don't require you to pull the liner out for every wash. It comes out by itself in the wash cycle! Yay! Not only that, but it also is a "one size" which means it will fit all the way up to potty training. With the FuzziBunz you need two sizes to get to the finish line. I almost swear the SmartiPants are more absorbant too... it might be a different kind of micro fiber on the inside. We started using these when Camster reached 8 pounds (and she has skinny legs) so even the smallest baby can use them with no leaks. They also come in great colors!!! We have lavender, pink, yellow, and coca brown. (The aqua and coca bean brown are not shown below since they are new colors)

SmartiPants Cloth Diapers

I would highly recommend SmartiPants to anyone considering cloth diapering.

May 7, 2010

DIYODS Play Kitchen: part I

The "Do It Your Own Damn Self" Play Kitchen: part I

The past few months I have been on a felt food kick. My husband knows all too well that I work in creative phases... or as he calls them- "waves of destruction". I tend to leave a trail of scraps and pieces and patterns and thread bits in my wake when starting new projects-- and most projects I never finish.

However, my felt food phenomenon has escalated to scary new heights. I have even gone as far as to make a nearly life-sized felt turkey with velcro drumsticks and wings. I know... it's a sickness. So even though Camster won't be playing with any of this stuff until (about) the ripe ol' age of one, I have decided to take the last step to occupy my remaining time. I will make a play kitchen!

We looked online to research how much a play kitchen might cost premade... bad idea. I'm sorry, but what the hell happened to good ol' American craftsmanship?! All we could find was $200 hunks of Chinese plastic. Fail.

Who knows where I found this idea, but whilst surfing the web I stumbled upon a site where two parents had made one out of a "repurposed" t.v. stand. It had a sink, stove burners, microwave, oven, and even a space to store play food. AMAZINGLY GENIUS! (*insert mad scientist laugh here*)

So I scavenged around until my grammy was kind enough to give a small desk she wasn't using. Score! And my mom found a metal bowl to use for the sink for free. Score #2!

We got right to work cutting a hole in the top for the bowl/sink to fit it in. Gosh... I hope Grammy knows I'm planning on hacking this desk up. Too late now! It was easier than I thought it would be to cut. Then we broke apart the 2 drawers (since we are only planning to use the faces for the microwave and oven doors) and glued the wood from the sides down as the bottoms of the microwave and oven spaces. Even with a 3 month old in tow, this only took about 2 hours. I was impressed! I thought it would take 9 months to finish this project, but then again-- you haven't seen me paint.

I will upload -part I- pictures on Sunday... check back

Professional Puppeteer

Handmade Hippo Puppet

When I was a kid I wanted to be either an artist or a puppeteer when I grew up. I got a marionette for my 7th birthday and spent the next few years doing puppet shows and building my own marionettes out of scrap wood and fabric, fishing line, and picture-hanging hooks (I don't think I'll ever grow out of the "weird kid" stage).

Handmade Panther Puppet

So it is my hope that Camster loves puppets as much as I do. I have included an awful pattern in this post for a hand puppet you can make out of scrap fleece, felt, or an old scarf.
These measurements are very approximate so adjust the size to fit your hand or smaller to fit your child's hand.

1. First cut out the bottom and top (green and blue) out of the same color fleece or felt. You will notice that the top (blue) is longer by 1.5 inches. This makes the upper and lower jaws line up better once it is sewn.

2. Then cut out the inside of the mouth (pink) out of either a red or pink fleece/felt. Fold in half and mark lightly with a washable fabric marker.

3. Lay the inside mouth piece (pink) over of the top piece (blue) so that they line up. Sew across the arch -of where the lip will be- only going from one mark to other on one half of the inside mouth piece (see diagram A).

4. Do the same with the bottom piece (green) and the other half of the inside mouth piece (pink) so that each (the green and the blue) are sewn onto the inside mouth piece (pink) without being sewn together (see diagram B).

5. Now fold the mouth piece (pink) in half so that it is sandwiched in between the top (blue) and bottom (green) pieces and sew from the corner of the mouth down to the bottom of the straight "tube" on both sides.

6. Now just turn it inside out and add your embellishments: eyes, nose, teeth, ears, etc.