happy 4th of july!

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happy 4th of july, everyone!  we are having a wonderful day hanging out at home.  it’s been lazy and just what we needed as a family.  i got to sleep in and the boys have spent all day outside playing with their magic sand.  i got some tie dye kits from target on clearance and we just finished an epic tie dye session!  we are all so colorful (we don’t need no stinkin’ gloves!)  it looks like a bunch of hippies live here!

IMG_2246 IMG_2229 IMG_2235 IMG_2231 IMG_2243anyway, i hope you and your families have a fantastic weekend!  stay cool and Happy Birthday, America!

cheers,

e

 

cake of the mondays: strawberry lemonade cupcakes

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yesterday was gloomy and today isn’t much better.  only little bits of blue sky peeking out from behind some seriously grey clouds.  and, the boys are cranky.  so, what could be better for a house with a Case of the Mondays (that continued into tuesday) than another Cake of the Mondays?

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christopher and i had gotten a giant box of strawberries from costco last week and some weren’t looking so great anymore and i needed to do something with them before i had to toss them out.  so, i cut up about two cups of strawberries, added a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice and smashed them up with my potato masher.  then i mixed up a quick batch of Bisquick® Velvet Crumb Cake.

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this is my favorite easy cake recipe.  i use it as the base for my strawberry shortcake, raisin cupcakes and just about any other simple white cake i need.  it’s a little heavier than a normal cake but not quite like a pound cake.  i also never have made the coconut topping in the original recipe.  i always just make the cake part!  and just in case you are wondering, this is not a sponsored post.  i just really like this recipe and i use Bisquick® pretty often from pancakes to muffins.

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i lined two cupcake tins with papers (i got 21 cupcakes out of this recipe, but you could fill the cups with more batter and get about 16 cupcakes) and preheated the oven to 350°.  i zested one lemon and juiced it.  i used 1/2 cup of lemon juice in place of the water/milk in the recipe because i wanted a nice, zippy lemon flavor.

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then i mixed all the ingredients together.  it is kind of lumpy and a little thick, so don’t worry.  then i took about 1 1/2 cups of the strawberry mash (reserve 1/2 cup for the frosting) and gently folded it into the batter.  this makes the batter way thinner than the recipe usually is, but that’s ok.  also, because of the lemon juice, your cakes won’t rise as much.  i didn’t care about this and sometimes, i like a denser (is that a word?) cake anyway.

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i used our good ol’ ice cream scooper to measure out batter into each cupcake liner.  bake for 15 minutes on two shelves in the middle of the oven and then rotate the tins.  bake for another 15 minutes.  baking times can vary and because this recipe is a little runnier with the strawberries in it, you may need to bake a bit longer.  i needed to let mine bake for an extra 10 minutes.

once the cupcakes are done baking (when a toothpick comes out clean,) cool on a cooling rack, completely.  i had a hard time figuring out what to frost these with, but finally decided on a simple strawberry whipped cream frosting.  whip up 1 cup heavy cream, 4 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  when the cream is stiff and whipped, gently fold in the remainder of your strawberry mash and the lemon zest.  use an offset spatula or piping bag to frost the cupcakes.  store in the fridge until ready to eat.

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i love the big chunks of strawberry and lemon zest in the frosting!  the boys gave them two very enthusiastic thumbs up and they were a nice treat for an icky day.

such a great way to turn around a monday!

cheers,

e

harvest and halloween…

halloween is over and i always feel a little sad when it’s done.  i leave our decorations up until almost thanksgiving, and the skulls stay out year round, but i’m a little sad that the spooky season is done for the year.

this year, the boys wanted to be a pumpkin and a skeleton, so i was thrilled that i could make their costumes.  this is the first year since their very first halloween that i made their costumes.  i got a black shirt and leggings from target for the skeleton and just painted some bones with white fabric paint.  the mask is a paper-mache skeleton face that i found at craft warehouse.  i painted it  white, used a sharpie to define the teeth and eye sockets and punched holes in the side for an elastic strap.

for the pumpkin, i got a large orange t-shirt and painted a jack-o-lantern face on the front.  i sewed some elastic to the bottom so we could stuff it with a pillow to make a fat pumpkin.  we layered a green shirt and some striped leggings underneath.  i used felt to make the pumpkin top hat and threaded a headband through the bottom.

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harry was “scary harry” the skeleton and jack was “jack-o-lantern” the pumpkin king.  he wouldn’t let me stuff his shirt because he wanted to be a skinny pumpkin like jack skellington.  the boys said that daddy needed to be a ghost, so we made a very traditional ghost costume for christopher.  we went to downtown kennewick and walked down “treat street” where all the businesses hand out candy.  we had to pit stop at home before trick-or-treating our neighborhood because the boys already had full buckets!  then, we stopped by our neighbor’s house for a little halloween gathering and had a wonderful time before i had to go to work.

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my costume was kind of chosen for me.  at work, the theme was that the men would be hunters and the ladies would be the animals.  i wasn’t too keen on that thought (but since this is not a post about the rampant sexism inherent in society, i’ll skip the diatribe) so i decided to go as a raven.  i couldn’t pull off a jungle cat costume in my 20’s, let alone my late 30’s, and i figured “gothic raven” was more my style anyway.  plus, i found these wicked-cool feather false eyelashes, so i was pretty happy with the way it turned out.

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we harvested the pumpkins from our garden and the boys went to a pumpkin patch on a field trip at preschool.  they love picking the pumpkins.  they drew faces on their pumpkins and christopher and i carved them into very happy jack-o-lanterns and we put them on the font porch to ward off the evil spirits.

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this has been a really fun halloween season.  i’m looking forward to thanksgiving.  i think we are going to host at our house this year and i just love the idea of having all our family here to share the meal.  christopher’s mom is living in washington now, and it will be the first thanksgiving, since we’ve been together, that she will be with us.  it’s time to get planning!

how was your halloween?  i would love to hear what you and the kids were dressed as!

cheers,

e

that maddening season…

do you ever think “if i can just make it though these next few weeks, things will slow down and get back to normal?”  i do, but now i am starting to think that there is no such thing as slowing down and going back to “normal.”  fall is here and that means that halloween, thanksgiving and christmas/new year are just around the corner.  this is the maddening season:  obligations, parties, gifts, crafts, buying, cooking, going, doing…

i am trying to prioritize some “me time” in my days, which just really means that i struggle with feeling lazy when i decide to get a cup of coffee (the most incredibly large cup of coffee-cue mike myers voice, hello!) at my local coffeehouse in between dropping off and picking up the boys from school, because i should be at home cleaning and cooking instead of visiting with my lovely neighborhood barista and reading the newspaper.

but, i’m trying not to be too hard on myself and remember that i can only do what i can do and that i need to make time to enjoy the boys and my home.  i’m learning to say “no” to some obligations and to say “yes” to things that i want to do and to things that will make life easier and more enjoyable for me and my family.

here are some things i’m doing to make this maddening season a little less hectic (starting with that coffee on school days):

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i accomplished one project, in that i think our halloween decorating is done.  bats, tombstones, pumpkins and skulls are all placed strategically around our house and they boys are delighting in the season, which, really, is what it’s all about.  bring on the spooky, i say.  i’ll be leaving all the skulls out after halloween and incorporating them into the regular home decor.  something else i don’t have to put up next year.  i also especially love halloween because all the spiderwebs in my home the rest of the year look like very delicate, handmade-from-etsy, decorations.  yay spiders and yay me for being too lazy short to clean them!

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jack and harry are happy we can still spend some time outside and that it’s not too cold yet.  the little cat loves jack jack and lets him snuggle her and pack her around.  she is so patient.  i’m loving watching this special bond they have and i’m really having a hard time with the fact that we need to find a home for some of the stray cats that have come to live on our porch lately.  maybe some cats will be a part of my holiday “giving.”  watch out, peeps.

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also got my hair cut again.  i’ve come to the realization that i am not good at doing my hair, especially now that it’s gotten much thicker and unwieldy after having the boys.  i went back to my pixie cut and i’m way happier.  i can just run my hands through it on the mornings i have to get the boys to school and i don’t look like the mom who just fell out of bed.  even though, i am the mom who just fell out of bed.  chalk up one for making a good hair decision and doing something for myself that i know would make life a little easier.  it’s not the best picture, but hey, that’s what you get when i take a quick selfie just before i walk in to work.

oh, and a good friend of mine has started selling nail wraps, so i’m jumping on that bandwagon too, because a) no drying time, b) two week wear time, c) i like having my nails done and these are cheaper than going for a manicure and easier than me doing it myself and d) no nail polish smells, which drive my husband batty.  it’s a win-win and i’ll talk about them more when i have given them a good trial run.

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finally, here is a sneak peek of the boys’ halloween costumes.  something i love is crafting, and i was thrilled when they asked for costumes i could make.  harry’s is completely different and i’ll put them both up on the blog when i make some time to take pictures.

how do you deal with the “maddening season?”  i’d love to hear your tips and tricks for making life easier and more enjoyable.

cheers,

e

some things that are pretty cool…

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because i’m not quite awake yet, (yes, i know i’m posting this at noon, but i didn’t get home from work until 2 am and the littles were noisy this morning) i decided to do a post for you listing some things i found online this week that i thought were pretty cool.

the food website that i’m obsessing over. be sure to check out their shop and this super-cool item

what i’ll be eating for breakfast + lunch for the next few weeks!

something to do with all those old t-shrits

the perfect summer dinner

i really want to make these

hopping on the kimono trend with this d.i.y.

one of the cutest dresses i’ve seen in a long time

what i’ll be making with the plethora of eggplant in my garden

look at these gorgeous nail colors

drinking this tomorrow

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cheers,

e

around the house…

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we had a pretty busy and really fun week:  our favorite farmer’s market opened last friday and we came back with a pretty great haul!  the boys made fun dream catchers for themselves (and one for daddy for father’s day–shhhh! don’t tell.) i did some sewing – check here for that post.  we hit the market again today.  jack jack got a rockabilly haircut from howie at steadfast – an awesome barber shop in town.  we found this most excellent dragonfly in the garden today.  i pickled some radishes ate my favorite dinner and i also discovered the best beer in the world!   if you know me, i don’t say that lightly!

i hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

here are some more things to check out while you relax and enjoy father’s day this weekend:

these famous dads and their kids – get a tissue.  just saying’

i will be drinking one of these this weekend

this looks awesomely easy and i will be making one for my bedroom

it’s always a good time for popsicles

i am so in love with this outfit

…and also all of these pants which i would wear out shopping and to work

cheers,

e

d.i.y. day: sack pants and a dress…

i ran across this pin the other day and the boys saw it and said, “mommy, those are pants bags.  can you make us some?”  so, of course, i said yes.  the tutorial from her blog is pretty easy to follow and i made a few modifications, and i really like how they turned out.  the boys like them too.  in fact, they liked them so much, they insisted on wearing them to bed last night!

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we took a trip to joann fabric and i let the boys pick their fabric.  jack jack chose a heatherd blue and harry picked this cool blue and green ikat print.  i steered them towards the lightweight knits and i chose to do the tutorial without the lining.  i also finished the necklines a bit differently.  the “back” became the “front” and i added button holes and buttons that i can move as the boys get bigger.  knowing what i know now, i would make the rise lower.  oh, well, next time.

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my sister-in-law is hosting a summer solstice party next weekend and we are all to dress like fairies or pixies or the like.  i think the boys look like peter pan’s lost boys in these jumpers, so i think we will add their butterfly wings and bows and arrows and call it the perfect outfit!

i didn’t take pictures of making the sack pants, however, i did take pictures of making the dress, which is a modification of the same pattern.  you just don’t cut out legs.  you just cut straight across and the finished dress will dip down on the sides.  instead of knit, i used pre-washed linen.  i don’t remember, but i think it was about 1.5 yards and i’m a solid american size 8/10 with a 34″D bust and a butt that the band queen would be proud of.

i laid out the pattern using the selvedge edge as my bottom hem so i didn’t actually have to hem the dress and because of this, and the fact that i used 45″ fabric, the dress came out pretty short in front.  it is longer on the sides but if you don’t like that, it is easily remedied by hemming the bottom of the dress evenly.  you can also buy more yardage and/or 60″ fabric so you can have a longer dress.  i will be making a maxi dress for my next one and/or a long version of the sack pants.

here is a quick-and-dirty version of how to sew this dress.  you should probably have intermediate sewing skills as i will not be detailing how to do certain techniques (such as french seaming.)

follow this tutorial to get your basic pattern and your basic sewing instructions – it’s in dutch, so use google translator to change it to english if you need to.  the boys had fun helping trace around me on the paper on the kitchen floor.  once you have your pattern, do not, do not, cut out legs.  just cut straight across for a skirt or fold up your pattern like i did in the picture.  because of how much fabric i had and how i needed to lay it out on the print (i did not match the pattern) i cut two back pieces (on a single panel – not on a fold) and stitched them together.  all my seams are french seams.  i think they just look nicer.

this is the front piece.  it is one piece that i cut on a fold.  i did not line up the pattern right on the fold because i wanted a little give in the panels for gathering at the neckline and so the dress is roomy.

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sew the two back panels together down the center seam with a french seam.  then, fold over all, both front and back, neck and arm hole pieces 1/2 inch and hem.

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this is a detail above of the side french seam below the arm hole.

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when you seam the arm holes and necklines, you will get an uneven point at the corner.  trim this point off even with the top edge.  see above for detail of un-trimmed vs. trimmed.  the point on the left is un-trimmed and the one on the right is the trimmed one.

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match up side seams from armholes down and seam.

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this is what the sack dress looks like when it’s all seamed together.

fold over the top of the neckline (both front and back pieces) and seam, creating a 1/4 or 1/2 inch “tube.”  this is going to be where you run your cording for the gathered neckline.  i used just some plain, cotton twine, doubled over.  use a safety pin to run your cord through the neckline tubes.

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just gather it up and tie on the side of one of the front sections.  you can have it tie in the back too, but i like a little off-set bow on the front so i can tie it myself.

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at this point, because i’d been ironing it all afternoon and it was a bit stiff, i ran it under a cold tap and hung it up outside to quickly dry.  it will hang on your body better this way.  i don’t like to iron my linen anyway, because i’m lazy i like the way it looks.  i strung some little beads on the cording to jazz it up a bit.

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i used this neckline finishing technique (which is way different from the tutorial) because i like the control it gives me on the gather and – for the sack pants- it let’s me get my butt through the top to put the thing on and take it off.  of course, this last bit isn’t important for the dress because it goes on over the top anyway.  but, for the sack-pants-jumper, it’s invaluable.

i didn’t take pictures of making the sack pants, but, christopher took some of the finished project i made for myself.  yes, i made one for myself too.  christopher doesn’t like it on me, but i think it’s super comfy.  i like the look of changing up the direction of the pattern on the front and the back.

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and yes, my legs are really this white.

i hope you found this informative, empowering and  fun.  what will you be making?

cheers!

e

p.s. please feel free to ask me questions. 🙂