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Posts Tagged ‘basic’

Hard? No.
Time consuming? A little.
Worth it? In my opinion, absolutely!

I made 95% of A’s baby food. At first I wondered if it would be complicated. I saw so many mommy blogs that had “recipes” for baby food which had multiple ingredients. They made it sound more complicated than it really is!

I never followed a single recipe. I didn’t do anything fancy either, and if you have access to some kind of blender (in some cases, a potato masher or a fork will work just fine), and a container to store the puree in, you’re ready to go! Seriously.

I always started with fresh fruit or veggies. Frozen will work, too, but I never did it that way. We have a farmer’s market close by, so that was my cheapest option.

I washed everything well, and peeled, chopped, de-seeded, trimmed stems, or whatever needed to be done.

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Next I decided how to cook my choice of produce. Since it was all going to be pureed, I usually stuck to boiling or steaming. Although I prefer baking butternut squash… don’t know why! I normally cut or dice the produce into bite size pieces so it cooks quicker than popping things in whole.

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Once the produce was thoroughly cooked and soft (could easily be squished with my fingers), I let it cool. I tried to blend it up once while it was still pretty hot, and that was a disaster! Don’t do it! (Just in case you’re curious, the heat/steam builds up like crazy in the blender, and ends up exploding all over when you remove the lid!) So, as I said, let it cool until pretty close to room temperature, and then blend with the same water you boiled the produce in. This way you don’t “water down” any of the flavor, and supposedly you don’t lose all the nutrients that are lost while boiling. You’d have to research how all that works if you want to know. I’m no nutritionist!

At first you’ll want to make it pretty soupy. Little babies just starting on solids can’t really handle anything that is much thicker than a creamy potato soup. ūüôā As your child gets older you can add less water, and leave more lumps if your child likes it that way. My kiddo has always liked his stuff completely smooth – no lumps! So, even when I started making it thicker, I always blended it really well.

Peas were never a success when I tried to puree them. For some reason they always seemed gritty. Maybe I just never cooked them long enough to be thoroughly mushy? If you have an answer for this, please let me know! I did have good success with the following:

Apples (boiled or steamed)
Pears (boiled or steamed)
Peaches (boiled or steamed)

(Generally I boiled the veggies – seemed to cook faster that way.)
Green beans
Sweet potatos
“Regular” potatos
Carrots
Summer squash
Butternut squash
Zucchini

A loved all of these… green beans were the most problematic, but I would just mix it up with something else that he did like, and he was happy.

I never pureed meat for A. He isn’t a fan of meat, and the thought of blending it up was revolting, so I didn’t! I also avoided pureeing legumes, because he had gas all the time! I figured I would try to help him out by not making the problem worse. ūüôā

At the beginning, there is no need to make large batches since they eat so little. But once they start eating more, you can make multiple large batches at once, and freeze it. I got into the habit of making some every weekend while I cleaned the house, and I never felt like it was taking up a lot of time.

If you’re on the fence about making your own baby food, I definitely recommend at least giving it a try. It might be surprised how easy it is, and I promise you that your wallet will thank you! Not to mention it tastes so much better than the jarred kind.

P.S. I did keep a jar or two of store-bought puree in the pantry as back-up just in case, but I stuck to just the fruit ones because the others are so gross that my little guy refused to eat them!

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I got this recipe from my sister-in-law.¬† She made it for dinner one day when we were visiting at her home, and boy, I was hooked!¬† I like regular chili just fine, but I think I’ve found my favorite!!!¬† The best thing is, this recipe is super easy, and¬†it cooks in the crock pot!¬† YES!!!¬† My kind of recipe!

I do apologize for that picture… definitely not the best.¬†It doesn’t even look appetizing… how sad!! ¬†I was too excited about eating it to take the time to take¬†a good one!¬† Haha!

Chicken, cut into bite size pieces Рabout one and a half pounds

4 cups chicken broth (I used bullion since I didn’t have chicken broth)

1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis (I used Rotel)

1 can chilis (optional)

2 cans Green Giant Mexicorn

1 can white Great Northern beans

1 pack white chili seasoning

8 ounces cream cheese

Suggested garnishes: lime wedges, shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped onion, avocado or guacamole.

Cut the chicken into bite sized chunks and place in the crock pot.  Rinse and drain the beans and add to the chicken.  Add all the other ingredients except for the cream cheese (and the garnish, of course!). 

Stir everything to make sure the seasoning isn’t clumped together. Cook it on low for about 5 hours or on high for about 3.¬†¬† About 15¬†minutes before serving, melt the cream cheese in the microwave and pour into the crock pot.¬† Stir well.¬† You’ll notice the liquid will turn a creamy white… mmm… delicious!¬†¬† You might want to put the lid back on and let it simmer a few minutes before serving.

Oh, and another thing about the picture I took… the my chili doesn’t really look white, does it?¬† Well, that is because my husband has this thing about fatty ingredients… he’s paranoid… so, I only put half of the cream cheese in there.¬† (it still tasted good though,¬†so I can’t complain too much) ¬†I love cream cheese, and it was hard to hold back, but that just shows how much I love him!¬† I’m willing to sacrifice my cream cheese!

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Happy March, everyone!

I found some lovely fabric last week, and I just couldn‚Äôt pass it up ‚Äď I loved it!!!¬† I even knew exactly to which chair it would belong.¬†

I only bought a half yard, since I only wanted enough for one pillow.¬† All the other ones in the room match.¬† Not that I don‚Äôt like things that match, but I most definitely like having a few things that don‚Äôt quite qualify for the ‚Äúmatching‚ÄĚ category.¬† It adds a little something interesting to the room in my opinion.¬†

From start to finish, this pillow cover took me max of 10 minutes to make.¬† You see, since I bought a half yard, I didn‚Äôt have to cut it at all ‚Äď the width was perfect.¬† All I had to do was hem the two short ends (the selvage edge), and then fold the fabric over to the right proportions and sew the two side seems. That was it ‚Äď I had a new pillow cover!¬†¬† I posted a quick tutorial about this a few months ago.¬† You can check it out here.¬†

I know all my pillow covers are so simple‚Ķ no pretty frills, intricate piecing, or anything. You see, our family room is exactly what a family room sounds like: games, friends, movies, homework, foot ball parties ‚Äď it all goes on in there. So the pillows tend to get thrown around quite a bit to make more room on the couch or to create impromptu seating and dozing areas on the floor. ¬†I‚Äôd rather not create a masterpiece of a pillow cover only to have it trampled underfoot or squashed into the corner of the couch.¬† Maybe one day when we have a more formal living room‚Ķ But in all honesty, I don‚Äôt mind if we never have one of those.¬† They‚Äôre not nearly as fun, and the way I see it, the fewer rooms, the less square footage that needs to be cleaned!¬†¬†

So, what do you think?  Do you like it nearly as much as I do?

Oh, and just to give you a heads up… I’ve decided that March is going to be my clean/organize/purge month.¬† My house could use it, that is for sure!¬† So, in light of that fact, you’ll probably be seeing¬† more organization/cleaning posts¬†in the next few weeks.¬† I’ve already started the “weeding”¬†in my closet – eek!

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I hate it when my kitchen towel falls on the floor… and I think it must know this, because it falls on the floor at every possible¬†opportunity!¬† Agh!¬† What is the point of drying my clean¬†hands on a towel that keeps falling on the floor?¬† I mean, I don’t think my floors are nasty, but, hey, c’mon, it is¬†a floor!

Now, I know there are people who would yell at me just because I have a kitchen towel in the first place. “Do you know how many germs are on that thing?”¬† Well, I mean no disrespect, but I ask in return,¬†“Do you know how much money you’re throwing down the drain by buying 10 rolls of paper towels every two weeks?”¬† I’m not dissing the paper towels.¬† I actually use them for all sorts of things, but I prefer to dry my hands on a real towel.¬† Don’t worry – I wash them on a regular basis, and I have yet to catch any deadly disease, so I think I’m ok.

Alright, so now that that¬†is settled, let me tell¬†you how I solved my little dillema…¬†I added buttons!!!¬† Yes, buttons!¬†¬† To be honest, I wasn’t sure how this would work out, so I only did this to two of my kitchen towels, and used them a few times to make sure I liked the reslut¬†before I posted about them.¬† However, in my opinion the experiment was a success!¬†¬† Its so easy, I think I might add buttons to most of mine.¬† Except for the ones that I use exclusively for drying dishes.¬† Buttons clacking against every dish I dry doesn’t sound fun at all…

Oh, and I realize I have not yet explained in detail how to make a button hole.¬† I promise I have every intention of doing so in the near future.¬† There’s just been a slight hang-up in the process, so it will be a few more days before I can do that.¬† However, rest assured that it is much easier than you might think!

For starters, I hung my towel over the oven handle (that is where I normally hang my towels) to determine at what point I wanted the two sides to button together.  I stuck a straight pin in the spot and took the towel over to my sewing machine.  The button hole will be sewn on the half of the towel that will show when hanging, while the button will be attached to the piece that will hang down behind it. 

Using my sliding ruler, I measured the button and marked the towel where I wanted the two ends of the button hole.  Next, I attached the button hole presser foot, sewed the button hole, and snipped it open.  I did the same thing to the other side of the towel.

I folded the towel the way it would¬†be when it is hanging,¬†and marked where the button should go on the back piece.¬† I¬†then attached the buttons by hand.¬† (Yes, a sewing machine can do that as well, but personally, I don’t think its worth the hassle.)

All set!¬† I now have kitchen towels that won’t “fly off the handle” all the time!¬† Haha!¬† Seriously though, I really do like my little idea… it keeps my towels clean and¬†also keeps hubby from¬†walking off with it to¬†use¬†as a super-size napkin at snack time. =)

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Using a straight stitch for hemming works just fine… except when you don’t want the stitching to show.¬† If you thought that wasn’t possible with your little home sewing machine –¬†surprise! It can, indeed be done!¬†¬† Its really not all that difficult.¬† Anyone can get this down with a little practice.

Oh, and I must warn you, this post has quite a few pictures, so it might take a little longer to load than usual. 

Start with the same basic folds as you did with the straight stitch hem.¬† The only difference I would suggest is to start with a slightly larger first fold.¬†¬† For this example I started with a 1/4 inch fold first, and then the 1/2 inch fold.¬† However, if you’re looking for a professional finish, I suggest using a larger second fold, making a deeper hem… maybe 2 inches or so.¬† You will need to keep this extra use of material in mind when cutting our your fabric.

This next step is a little difficult to explain… I will do my best to make it clear.

Place your fabric right side up (meaning the back of the fabric should be touching your work surface.  Keeping your hem in place with one hand, pull the rest of your fabric over the hem creasing it about 1/4 inch shorter than the edge of your hem. 

If this doesn’t make sense, just try it.¬† Its really not as complicated as it sounds.¬† Once you’ve made that last fold, pin¬†it into place, inserting the pins perpendicularly to the line you will sew.¬†

Looks strange, but you’re on the right track!

Now, if you have a presser foot that looks like this, now is the time to use it.¬† You can use your regular presser foot for this stitch, so if you don’t have a blind hem one, then don’t worry.¬† (It will take a little extra practice¬†to get it right with a regular one, but it certainly is possible.)¬†¬†The only “special” part about this particular presser foot is that it has an extra piece extending from the front of it which helps guide you exactly along the edge of your hem.¬† (Looks kind of like the blade of an ice skate… so how about I refer to is as the blade? ok?) It also has a very small, thin piece in the middle which keeps the thread from getting too tight… but we’re keeping this to the basics for now, so I won’t go into that.¬†

Ok, so now that you have your presser foot in place, position your fabric wrong side up so that the edge of your pinned hem lines up with the left side of the “blade”.¬† If you are using a regular presser foot you will need to experiment a few times to figure out how to line up your fabric. (Oh, and remember to remove those pins as you sew,¬†beacause¬†if the blade goes over the pin, it will¬†invariably¬†slip a little bit and probably¬†pull your fabric crooked.)

Now, select your blind hem stitch.  On my machine it is stitch #09 and looks like three stright stitches followed by one zig-zag stitch. 

Ok, now you’re ready to start sewing!¬† Start slowly as it will take a little practice to get this just right.¬†

Remember to keep your fabric very straight, as that will play a huge role in how¬†neat the front of your hem will look.¬† Veer too far to the left and the front stitch will be too big and pull your fabric… go too far right and the zig-zag stitch won’t catch the front piece of fabric and so you’ll just be sewing a pattern onto your fabric without actually securing the hem… like I said, it will take a little practice to get it just right.¬†

In the pictures below¬†you can see ¬†how the difference in stitch placement will affect the front of your hem. On the left I kept the fabric perfectly lined up with the “blade” on my presser foot and the stitch just barely caught one or two threads from the front material.¬† As I progressed, I allowed the fabric to pull to the right, making the stitches reach farther into the front material.¬† In the last picture I show the front of the hem… the more the zig-zag stitches extend over the fold, the bigger the stitches will be on the front side.¬† If they get too big, the stitches will actually pull at your fabric, not allowing your hem to open all the way,¬†causing a crease.

I hope this tutorial makes sense… please let me know if there is anything I need to clarify.¬† I have never tried to explain a sewing process in writing before, and its proving to be quite a challenge for me!¬† I just hope I can be of some help to you!

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The easiest way to machine hem is to simply use the straight stitch.  The only down side to this method is that the stitching will be obvious on the front side of your project.  If that is not an issue, then by all means, this is the best and easiest option. 

Start by folding and pressing the hem.  In this example I made a  1/4 inch fold first and then folded the material back onto itself a second time.  The second fold is 1/2 inch wide.  If it is important that your hem is very straight, use a ruler to measure as your press.  This is when that little ruler with the sliding marker comes in handy.  Slide the marker to the appropriate measurement on the ruler.   This allows you so quickly put the ruler on your hem and check to make sure it is the right width.  

Once your hem is pressed, you can secure with pins.¬† I’ve done this so many times that I don’t normally pin this kind of hem… unless is very important that I get it just right.

Select a straight stitch on your machine.¬†¬†Start sewing¬†about 1 inch away from the end of the fabric, and about one centimeter down from the top fold of your hem.¬† Sew toward the¬†close of the fabric.¬† Then, pivot the fabric¬†180 degrees and sew¬†back over the line you just stitched and¬†continuing until you have finished the hem.¬†¬† Starting the seam this way will secure the stitches so they don’t come out in the wash.¬† Finish the hem in the same way, sewing all the way to the end and then pivoting the fabric to sew over the last inch of stitching.

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¬†¬†¬† I don’t use a whole lot of technical terminology when I write my posts.¬† However,¬†just in case I do use a term in one of my sewing posts and you don’t know what I’m talking about, I have made a list below of some of the most common sewing terms and their definitions.¬† I’m no professional seamstress, so¬†my posts¬†won’t go much beyond what is listed here.¬†¬†In case you’re looking for¬†a word that I have not included¬†here,¬†you can easily find a more thorough listing¬†online.¬†¬†¬†OnlySewing.com¬†is a good place to start.¬†¬†Look on the left sidebar on the main page and under the¬†bolded heading, “Helpful Information” you will see¬†“sewing glossary” listed.¬†¬†This website ¬†includes a¬†wealth of other sewing¬†information as well!

Backstitch: finishing the end of a line of stitches by sewing a few stitches back over the last inch or so; this secures the end and keeps stitches from coming out   

Basting stitch: a long, loose stitch meant to temporarily holds two pieces together.  When using a machine, set your stitch length to the longest setting possible.

Batting: fluffy material (cotton, wool, fiber fill) used as a lining in things like quilts

Bias tape: a long strip of material that is used to finish the edge of a project.  Bias tape can be bought in several widths and colors, as well as be made from a length of material 

Blind hem: sewing a hem in such a way that the stitches are almost invisible on the right side of the fabric.  This can be done both by hand and on a machine.   [tutorial for hand hemming here]

Casing: a long, thin tube made of fabric ‚Äď or ‚Äď a hem through which one threads elastic, cording, ribbon, etc.

Dart: a section of fabric that has been taken in and sewn.  For example, the waist of a woman’s dressy blouse has vertical darts which give it a fitted look.  Also used at the waist of a skirt.

Ease: a very subtle (not noticeable) gather used to make a slightly larger piece of material match a shorter one ‚Äď often used for sleeves and collars which require a bit of ‚Äúgive‚ÄĚ.

Gather: done by sewing a basting stitch across one end and then pulling the fabric along that stitch line to form a ruffle

Hem: the edge of fabric that is turned under and sewn

Interfacing/fusible web: a stiff material used to give a garment/item more body than fabric alone can give.  Interfacing can be bought by the yard or pre-packaged; regular or fusible (meaning when ironed, it will stick to fabric)

Miter: the diagonal fold made at the corner of a finished edge; many times used on the corner of a napkin or a quilt

Nap: the ‚Äúgrain‚ÄĚ or direction of a fabric such as velvet; it is important to cut all pieces in the same direction when using a nap fabric because the apparent difference in its color will make it look like several different materials have been used.

Pivoting: adjusting or rotating fabric while the needle is down and the presser foot is up

Pre-shrink: basically wash and dry before cutting and sewing; this is especially advisable with cotton fabrics that are prone to shrinking quite a bit

Pleat: a form of gathering that is very structured and has distinct creases. Like a ‚Äúschool girl‚ÄĚ uniform skirt or the front of a pair of slacks.¬† There are several different kinds of pleats, (box pleats, inverted, etc.) all of which serve the same basic purpose.

Raw edge: the cut edge of the fabric which has not been finished in any way

Seam allowance: the distance between the line of stitching and the edge of the material

Selvedge: when on a bolt, the selvedge is found on the two ends of the fabric.  It is more tightly woven, usually ravel-proof.  Sometimes it is a plain white stripe with the name of the maker or other information printed on it.

Stay stitch: a straight stitch sewn on a single thickness of fabric; it helps the fabric keep its shape before it is sewn 

Tack: a few stitches in one place used to keep an item in place ‚Äď such as when attaching a ribbon or a bow

Top stitch: decorative or otherwise, this is stitching that is meant to be visible and noticed on the ‚Äúright‚ÄĚ side of the item

I hope this helps!¬† I’ll write a few posts to demonstrate some of these.¬† For example, how exactly to make a pleat or a dart, or use the blind hem stitch on your sewing machine (you’ll love how nice your hems will look!)

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