Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spring in Montana

I think spring has finally arrived in Montana! These tulips shot out of the ground a couple weeks ago, and with a few days of 70 degree weather, they finally opened up yesterday.

The weather this weekend, and so far this week, has been absolutely beautiful! It's gotten at least into the 70's everyday, with Sunday and Monday making it into the 80s!

I'm trying to not get my hopes up that spring is here to stay. I know this is Montana and they are calling for 40 degree highs in the next few days. Heck...we will probably still get snow a few times, maybe even enough to stick, but I'm certainly enjoying it now!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Faux Chenille Baby Blankets

I have a new go to baby shower gift. I've given 3 now, and so far it seems like a hit!

I remember years ago, probably the late 90's, my mom started making "faux chenille" blankets. Well my mom was ahead of the game, because now they are starting to get more popular. I came across this tutorial from the Aesthetic Nest, and have followed it pretty closely. So, I'm not going to create a whole tutorial, but I will add in my own tips. (PS...I really want to try her chevron version!)

The first change I made, I only bought 1 yard of each fabric. I just buy 1 printed flannel and 4 solids. You will also need 2 spools of thread and 2 packs of seam binding . You DEFINITLY need the chenille cutter! I couldn't find it at Joann, so I had to order it online, but Joann does have replacement blades. The only other change I made, once all 5 pieces were sewn together, I only cut through the top 3. I do this because the printed fabric is usually not printed on the back, so if you leave the 4th solid flat, you won't see the backside of the printed fabric. Other than those few tweeks, I followed her tutorial. A quick tip...I can't keep my sewing straight, so it helped alot to buy fabric with diagonal lines already in the design :)

So here they are!

The first one I gifted, I made for Baby Quandrud, a girl. I could kick myself...I didn't get any close up photos! But I do have this one of Mama Quandrud opening the gift. The printed fabric was a beautiful Shabby Chic floral with mostly mint green, and some yellow and pink.

Next, I made one for Baby Beene, a boy. They chose a very neutral teddy bear bedding. (photo from Amazon - Eddie Bauer)
I kept the base brown and tan to match, but I wanted to add in some pops of green and yellow on the chenille side.

 The order of layering here is: print, tan, yellow, white, green.

I love that you can fold it up so the chenille is hidden, so it's quite a surprise when they open it up!
 Her shower is a "build his library" shower, so we are all bringing our favorite children's story. I knew I had to get "The Velveteen Rabbit" but I couldn't help myself when I saw "Cars and Trucks and Things that Go" and "The Monster at the End of this Book" so I grabbed those too!

The blanket I just finished is for Baby England, another boy. They are doing his nursery in Star Wars, and have this bedding. (photo from Target - Dwell Studio)
I used the green, light blue, and darker blue for his blanket. I layered them: print, light blue, white, darker blue, green.

I have it folded here, so you can see the printed side, binding, and chenille side.

I'm going to another shower in a few weeks, and another in June. I already bought the fabic (when Joann had them on sale for $2.99 a yard!) so the next few weekends will be spent at my new sewing machine!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Meatball Subs

#9 on my 30 B4 30 list is done! I have "perfected the meatball sandwich." "perfect" is certainly based on personal I guess I shouldn't say it's perfect...but it's super easy to make, so it's perfect for me! I found a few different recipes online and simplified them to make them easy enough for me. Here's how I made mine:

1 lb italian sausage
1 cup italian bread crumbs
1 egg
1 jar marinara sauce (I used a 4 cheese flavor)
provalone cheese (which I forgot to buy, so I used parm)
french bread hoagies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Mix meat, bread crumbs, and egg in a bowl. Really the only way I could get it well mixed was to squish it with my hands.
Form the mixture into balls and place them into a well greased casserole pan.

Bake the meatballs for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the marinara sauce in a large skillet.
Take the meatballs out of the oven and spoon them into the bubbling sauce.

Gently shake the pan to stir, as using a spoon may break the meatballs.
Simmer for another 20 minutes.
I did not toast our hoagies, but it would be easy to throw them in the oven after the meatballs if you want to.
Spoon the meatballs on the bread and top with cheese.

If you try them, let me know what you think. Jake loves them!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

More Living Room Inspiration

I have already blogged about my future plans to change my living room decor. My original plan was to keep the room very neutral. Tan walls, dark brown furniture, and white accents. But I recently found this color inspiration photo and I'm in love!

This photo is from Design Seeds, an awesome website that has color palettes all over Pinterest. I'm completely reinspired! I want to keep the foundation the same, tan walls, dark brown furniture, put add pops of that sage green and deep red. I'm really looking forward to starting on my plans, but it probably won't be anytime soon! I'll just get to spend lots of time gathering ideas.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Singer 4423

After months of frustration and hair-pulling-out, I finally bit the bullet and bought a new sewing machine. I got my first sewing machine a few years ago, and it was a good little machine. It was super cheap and was great for a beginner sewer, but I'll admit that now that I am more comfortable at sewing, I pushed that little machine too hard.

Like most other machines, it would jam every once in awhile, but after some cleaning and time to cool down it would work fine. Yesterday, after running it on full speed for over 4 hours, it really jammed and I couldn't get it to loosen at all. Today, Jake took the whole thing apart (it's handy having a mechanic around) but in the end we decided I have probably worn out the motor. I plan to take it to a sew and vac store here in town to get an idea how much it will cost to fix, and I may either give it away or get it fixed then try to sell it, but either way, I think I've outgrown this machine and it's time for an upgrade.

With the heavy projects that I've been making lately, and my tendency to run it with the pedal to the floor, I decided to use some of my state tax return to treat myself to this beauty:
This is a Singer 4423 Heavy Duty. Youtube videos show it sewing through 16 layers of denim and it boasts 1100 stitches per minute. It has limited stitch designs, but I honestly don't remember ever using anything besides the straight I don't think I'm missing out. I used it for a few hours this afternoon, and so far so good. I'll admit that the drop in bobbin was a bit confusing and I got it tangled quite a few times, but I finally figured it out and it worked great to finish up gifts that I needed to finish for 2 baby showers this weekend.

I can't wait to share the baby gifts, but I don't want to risk one of the moms checking my blog and seeing the gift before her shower, so here is a little sneak peak...

I'll be sure to do a full post about this gift next week.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dress Shirt to Wine Bag

On pinterest, I saw this photo from thenshemade on the instructables website.

She used the leg of a pair of jeans to make a bag, which got me thinking that maybe a pant leg would make a great wine bag! I pulled out a pair of jeans from the yard sale pile to try it out, but it turns out adult pant legs are too big (if you have some child size jeans laying around, that might work) This made me think that a jean jacket would probably be perfect. I have a jean jacket, but I still wear it, so no way am I going to cut it up! Instead, I picked a dress shirt from my yard sale pile.

I used a woman's dress shirt, but I don't think a men's shirt would be much larger in the wrist area, so it should work also.

I used a standard wine bottle to eyeball the length I would need. I left about an inch at the bottom of the bottle to allow for the seam.

Then I turned the arm inside out, and sewed a few rows to close the bottom of the bag.

Turn it inside out and you're done!

What do you it cuter with the cuff rolled down...

Or all buttoned up?

Including time to let the iron heat up, this project took less than 5 minutes!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pioneer Woman's Blackberry Cobbler

I LOVE blackberries! Really...the caps are completely necessary because I LOVE them that much!

If you don't know The Pioneer Woman, you should get to know her. She has a witty blog and wonderful recipes!

Now back to blackberries...I've always seen blackberry cobbler as a dish with blackberries spread on the bottom of the dish and a crumbly crust baked on top. The Pioneer Woman's blackberry cobbler is more like this:

It's kind of like cake, with blackberries baked inside. It is moist and sweet and yummy!

The recipe is incredibly easy.

1 stick butter (1/4 pound)
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 cups of cleaned blackberries

use the stick of butter to grease a pie pan
mix the sugar, flour, and milk
melt the butter and wisk it in
pour into the pan
sprinkle in the blackberries
sprinkle a litte sugar on top
bake at 350 F for 1 hour

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jake's story of our last PCS

My husband, Jake, is currently taking an evening English class. His first essay assignment was to write a 3 page  descriptive essay, and he chose to write about the move from Italy to Montana. He got a 95%! I thought it would be the perfect blog entry because it gives a little glimpse into our life.

Moving to Montana
As a member of the Air Force, moving is inevitable and happens often. Luckily, I am always up for the adventure of visiting a new place and look forward to moving. My most memorable move so far occurred in 2009, when my wife and I moved from Italy to Montana. Our travels to the new base included a visit with family during Christmas time, an addition to the family, car troubles, and multiple snow storms.
After three years of living in Italy, the time had come for us to leave. We enjoyed our time in Europe, but were open for new adventures. After discussing our options and considering our past experiences in North Dakota, we decided we would like to return to a northern state. As luck would have it, our list of possible bases included Malmstrom. Weeks later, we received orders to Montana. This would be my fourth move in six years but more importantly my new wife’s first move with the military. 
As the time for us to leave was coming closer, we tried to rush in as much sightseeing and shopping as possible. My wife left Italy a few weeks before I did, leaving me to finish moving out of our apartment, selling our car, and signing out of the base. Our PCS was just in time for us to be able to stop home in Missouri and enjoy Christmas vacation with family before starting our drive to Montana. The plan was that I would be flying out of Italy and arriving in St. Louis two days before Christmas.
It turned out the weather was not going to cooperate with that plan. The night before I was to leave, the largest snow storm Aviano had seen in years swept through, blanketing the ground with two inches of snow. Now, I was stranded and did not know when I would be able to head home. The next day was mostly spent checking on the flight and enjoying one more famous Italian pizza. After multiple delays, at eleven o’clock in the evening the plane had landed and was ready to leave. Finally, I was on my way. Twenty hours and three plane rides later, I landed in St. Louis on Christmas Eve.
With four young nieces, we were all up early on Christmas to open presents. The presents were all opened, and we were sitting down for breakfast, when I heard a knock on the door. My wife walked in the other room to answer the door and moments later walked back in with my Christmas present, a handsome, nine week old, brindle boxer puppy. It took only a matter of seconds for that puppy to become my new best friend. As it turned out, the breeder was unable to sell the runt of the litter, so she let us take him for free to keep the brothers together.
For the next two weeks, we enjoyed visiting with our friends and family, even going to a Zac Brown concert, but I also had to get my 1995 Isuzu Rodeo running. My Rodeo had been sitting in a field for the last four years and was nowhere near ready to make a fifteen hundred mile road trip to Great Falls. As I started work on my Rodeo, I soon realized that it wasn’t going to be just a simple job of changing the oil and charging the battery. No, I would need to replace the timing belt on the engine. This consists of taking the front timing cover off the engine, which is not a quick job. Another belt tensioner needed to be replaced, which meant another trip to the parts store and another day waiting for the part to come in. 
The next day, we had the cars packed as tight as we could get them and were ready to hit the road. Just as I jumped into my Rodeo, I noticed the blower motor for the heater had stopped working. Now this wouldn’t be a problem, except it is now January and I am starting a drive to Montana with two puppies in a cage in the back. We were so ready to get a move on, that I decided that I would be ok for the first drive of the trip. I figured I could reassess the situation once we stopped for the night.
This is where it all really gets interesting. Yet another freak snowstorm had crossed my travel plans. We had been driving for five hours and had only made it to Kansas City. The snow was piling up and it was now rush hour. The traffic was heavy as we crept around the city. We passed trucks laid over in the ditch and multiple cars stuck in the snow, but we kept going. For the next six hours we drove North, never going over fifteen MPH. We were determined to make it to Sioux Falls, where we had hotel reservations for the night.
After a huge relief of making it to the hotel, we pulled into the parking lot and my wife’s car got stuck in the snow. It was past midnight, so we pushed it into a space and let it sit for the night. In the morning we woke to find another foot of snow on the ground. The interstate we were planning to travel was shut down, leaving us stranded at the hotel for the rest of the day. Fortunately, this gave us a chance to push the car out and go straight to a tire shop for a brand new set of winter tires.
As we drove down the highway the next day, the weather started to get nicer. The sun was shining and the snow was melting. We made it all the way into Buffalo, Wyoming for our next stop overnight. On the last day, we drove the final 6 hours of the trip. The drive through Montana had beautiful scenery and made us very excited to get to our new home. When we made it to Great Falls, the sun was shining bright and it warmed up to almost 60 degrees. We could not believe what we had to drive through to find such warm and beautiful weather.
We loved our time in Italy, and miss the travel opportunities of living in Europe, but we are an adventurous couple and were excited for the new experiences waiting for us in Montana. Who knew the actual move to Montana would be such an adventure! We underwent many obstacles during that PCS, car trouble, bad weather, and new puppies, but now we can look back on that time and have a good laugh. We made it to Montana and we love it here.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

No Sew Burlap Table Runner

I realized this morning that I haven't posted on the blog in 2 weeks. In my free time, I've been working on a baby shower gift...and I'm excited to post about it, but I want to wait until after the baby shower. I finally finished that project today, so I moved on to another project that I've been thinking about. This stenciled burlap table runner.

I cut the burlap a couple feet longer than my table, pulled out a few strings to fray the edges, and painted the design using a Stampin' Up decor stencil.

I made it long enough to hang over the edge, but I think I actually like it without the overhang, so the stencil design is on top of the table instead of hanging off the side.

What do you think? Since this project is no sew, it would be very easy to trim the burlap and re-paint the stencil.