Posted by: Meagan | August 21, 2013

WIP: Heritage Quilt Update #2

Well it’s about time for another Heritage Quilt Update! (You can find update #1 here, and my original post here.) The quilt is coming along really well! I have almost received all the squares from my female relatives and I’m getting really excited to piece it together. I love how different each square is, I’ll outline each square in a plain cloth of some color… blue? yellow? I’m not sure yet. Originally I was thinking I would make a huge Queen sized blanket, but I want this to be more usable, so I’m going to sew it into a large throw quilt to snuggle up with on cold nights, or while watching movies, or reading with the kids. I’ll also be embroidering all the ladies’ names on their individual squares so we will always remember who sewed which square.

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I finally finished two squares, I’ll admit, seeing the amazing squares I’d received was pretty intimidating, my grandma’s square has perfect points. But I finally pulled it out and made my squares, I’ll probably make one more to  help even out the number of squares.

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This is my first ever applique piece. I really love how it turned out! Hopefully my next update will be my finished quilt! I’m already working on piecing the boarder. I’m so excited!

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Posted by: Meagan | August 16, 2013

DIY: Strawberry Freezer Jam

There are two women that I strive to be like. My grandma and my husband’s grandma, Betty and Jean. My grandma is 89 and still working in her garden, making jam, canning peaches, snapping beans and shucking corn. My husband’s grandma, Jean, is the most kind, welcoming and non-judgemental woman I know. She showers you with hugs and “atta’ girl!”‘s. My grandma, Betty, serves to show her love. When I was in college I received a massive package from my grandma full of dried fruit (my favorite.) When we were driving across the country we stopped in and spent the night with my grandparents and she sent me on down the road with several jars of freezer jam, knowing that my boys are picky and love that jam. When I was a child my grandparents would come visit for a week or two and she would deep clean our entire house, not a small task since my dad was divorced and he had 4 children at his house 24/7. After she deep cleaned the house, washed the windows, scrubbed the blinds, she would can and can and can plums. We had a massive plum tree in our backyard and we were sent out over and over to pick plums for her to make into jam so she could leave us supplied for the next year. When she wasn’t cleaning or canning she was teaching me cross stitch and embroidery, and showing my dad how to curl my hair without burning me. Grandma tried to instill as many good habits as she could in the amount of time she was there. We would come home from school, usually we’d throw down our backpacks and watch TV, she made us do our homework first, tidy our rooms and then go outside to play. I wish I understood the importance of her lessons then and applied them to my life.

One of my favorite things was to come home from school to find jars of strawberry freezer jam on the counter, my grandma still cleaning up the kitchen and planning dinner at the same time. One time as a young woman I made freezer jam and for some reason it didn’t occur to me to make it again over a decade later when a friend of mine brought homemade freezer jam and rolls over after my third son was born. Since then I’ve made strawberry freezer jam a staple in our diet and if you do it right it saves you TONS of money! If you garden or would like to, strawberries are perennials and will come back every year so that’s always a plus in the savings department. (Though newer plants produce more than older so after a few years you have to start rotating out the older plants to keep your yield up.) Or you can always buy berries on sale, which is what I currently do! Also, buy sugar on sale or in bulk. There are 3 ingredients for strawberry freezer jam.

1. Strawberries

2. Sugar

3. Pectin

4. Water

Ok, I lied there are 4 ingredients, but sometimes I don’t count water as an ingredient.

You will find directions on the pectin packet and they are awesome, no fail directions so read them!

-Wash and cut the stem off the strawberries

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-I like to cut up the berries before sending them to the blender, blend to the consistency you prefer.

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-Measure 2 cups of blended strawberries, pour into large mixing bowl.

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-Add 4 cups of sugar and stir.

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-Let sit 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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- Combine pectin and water and bring to a boil.

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-Add pectin to strawberry/sugar mixture and stir well.

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-Pour into jam containers and let sit at room temperature until the jam sets up.

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-Once jam is set, put in the freezer (or fridge if you plan to eat immediately.)

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One thing I love about my grandmother is that she truly wastes not. This is one of the jam jars she sent along with me.

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A small Prego sauce jar with a Smuckers jam lid! Another one I forgot to take a picture of was a Pace salsa jar with a Smuckers caramel lid! What a wonderful reminder to me that we don’t need to throw those jars and containers away, just reuse them, though I admit I’ll probably take the labels off mine. :)

Posted by: Meagan | August 15, 2013

A Post! With More to Come.

Have you ever looked at dinner in progress and thought, “This isn’t looking very good.”

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And then it’s finished and it’s delicious.

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That was our dinner last night, and probably how this blog has been recently. But please don’t give up on me! I have some fun and exciting posts coming up including DIY Freezer Jam and a tutorial on making yo-yo’s (the fabric kind.) And an update on my August of No Pants! Yes, I am doing it, and I’m half-way through the month wearing only skirts! So please stay tuned and thank you for your patience while we have moved across the country and and slowly settled into our new home.

Posted by: Meagan | June 3, 2013

Summer of No Pants!

I don’t know if you have seen this blog: Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky! but they are hosting their third Summer of NO Pants! I love this idea and would love to encourage everyone to step out of your comfort zone, toss those pants, capris and shorts in your drawer and pull out your sewing machine and sew some skirts this summer! There are past tutorials on the blog and pictures galore! I am in the middle of a move and my machine is all packed up and will be for a while depending on when we finally find a place to live, but I’m determined to make August my pants-free month. I wear pants pretty much every day so this will be an adjustment for me and if you feel overwhelmed at doing it for three months, join me for an August of No Pants! Woot Woot! You can take June and July to sew a few skirts even. Below are just a few of the pictures and links to their tutorials from the Summer of No Pants 2011.

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Image from Thar She Sews!

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Image of One Hour Dress from Live Laugh Love

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Ruffled skirt Image from Grits & Giggles

Posted by: Meagan | May 16, 2013

WIP: Ruffled Skirt

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(picture from Creative Spaces blog)

I came across a skirt tutorial on Pinterest from Creative Spaces, pinned it and moved on until I was in serious need of a skirt and then I rushed back to my sewing board on Pinterest and breathed a sigh of relieve followed by great feelings of anxiety. I have never sewed a skirt before, I’ve never sewed a zipper on a single thing before – AHHHHHH! I then pulled myself together and e-mailed my wonderful friend Mercy, and asked her if she thought this was a skirt I could sew and she responded with a resounding yes and so I emotionally prepped myself and did the following.

1. Got the rest of my outfit together (this skirt is for a wedding)

2. Decided the color fabric I wanted

3. Double and triple checked the blog for measurements

4. Went to the fabric store where I found linen blended fabric 40% off! Woot! Woot!

I then washed it and began working. Everything was going along swimmingly, waist band, zipper even, until I tried it on and found it to be several inches too big in the waist. So I unpicked the seam and zipper, cut the extra inches off and then sewed the zipper on once again and redid the seam. I then measured and machine sewed the hem only to have it gather in a weird way and I then had to unpick the entire hem of the skirt while watching 3 episodes of PSYCH. I just re-pinned the hem once again. Whew!

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Posted by: Meagan | April 3, 2013

Seat Belt Pillow Tutorial

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen quite a few seat belt pillow pictures on Pinterest  but zero tutorials! So I decided to make one and share my trial run with you. I just used my cell phone to take pictures so please forgive the quality. This was a fairly simple project and it turned out perfectly. It Velcros around the seat belt just how I pictured in my mind, it is a great length, I can get my son in and out of his seat without having to take the pillow off and on each time. Also this doesn’t go inside the belt, so it doesn’t interfere with any seat belt safety issues. AND it doesn’t fall down and leave my son with no head support once he falls asleep! Not to mention, no bulky pillows to keep track of and which ultimately get stepped on or dropped in the parking lot and have to be washed. LOVE this pillow!

I had my son pick from fabric I had in my stash and miraculously I actually had everything else on hand already and I made zero runs to the store.

What you need:

- 16″x 32 1/2″ fabric (give or take depending on how large you would like the pillow to be.)

- 2- 8 1/4″ pieces sof fabric, or 1- 19″x 19 1/2″ piece of fabric of either the same or coordinating/complementary colors/pattern.

- About 15 inches of sew Velcro.

-Polyester fiber fill

-Thread

-Sewing machine

Instructions:

-First you are going to iron your fabric… ALL of it. If you want to sew, you better learn to love ironing, it makes measurements more precise, helps keep your fabric from puckering, and just makes it look awesome in general.

-Take your smaller piece of fabric and fold it in half, and… are you ready to go back to elementary school? Fold it hot-dog style, with the right side on the inside.

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-Sew a line down the seems, turn right-side out and iron again. Lay and pin Velcro on the outside and sew all the way around.

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-Do the same with the other side, make sure you have Velcros where when sandwiched, they will meet.

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-Next I rolled the top and bottom fabric and sew.

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-Yay! Completed piece.

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-Next get your large piece of fabric out. Place small piece (I’m just going to call it brown), a few inches from what will become the seam and pin. Be sure not to pin through to the bottom piece of fabric. I measured 2 1/2″ from the Velcro out and marked with a fabric marker. (I also cut off the white strip with the coloring, etc. off.)

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-Sew along the outside of the Velcro, up to the rolled seam, over and down the fabric marker line, and back over the opposite rolled seam to create a sturdy rectangle.

-Fold brown fabric over so Velcro sticks to itself, and fold large (blue) fabric in half, hot dog style :), right side on the inside.

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-Sew across the top and down the side. I double stitched this since it will be pulled around and it’s better to be safe than sorry later!

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-Turn right-side out and stuff with poly-fill.

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- Fold bottom in and iron. Sew across, again, I double stitched this.

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-Viola! You are done! My son loves his pillow and used it that very night on a late-night air port pick up.

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Posted by: Meagan | February 22, 2013

Books to Read With Your Child: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I came across a blog post on Pinterest titled, 10 Books to Read to Your 4-7 Year OldI was surprised at the book list  because these are real books, chapter books and I was a little doubtful they would hold my 5 year old’s attention. My husband, however, started reading Winnie the Pooh with our boys, previous to me finding this post and they love it, so I pressed on and decided to check out one book from the list from my local library with trepidation. (The full list is linked above and a copy of the list is at the bottom of this post.)

It was difficult to choose, I have read many of these books at one point or another in my life and I settled on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I checked out the 100th Anniversary Edition from the library and immediately began reading it with my son. He was excited to have a big book, a chapter book, to read with me. We both really love the illustrations throughout the book, the writing is so fun and imaginative and it makes me wonder what the heck we’ve done to children’s books in the last 50 or so years! The chapters are short, just a few pages so if you only have a few minutes to sit down and read, you can and still satisfy your kid’s need for a “whole chapter.” I have enjoyed The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as much or more than my son and have secretly been reading ahead. Whenever he catches me reading it without him, he begs me to read to him out loud. This may not be surprising, but as in most cases, the book is much better than the movie, so don’t let the movie deter you.

Now that I have shared our newest book find, I need to know if any of you have read any good books with your kids recently. I would love some more ideas for when we’ve finished The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

A direct copy of book list from sarahbessey.com:

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. This is an ongoing series of gentle mysteries but the inaugural book was a big favourite here. The resourceful children are on their own, and that fascinates other kids. Anne and Joe like to play Boxcar Children.

Adventures of Little Bear by Else Minarik and Maurice Sendak. This is a “learn to read” book, but it’s so wonderful. Compared to the drivel that masquerades as “learn to read” books, the stories are interesting, fun, gentle, and lovely. They are the personification of the word “cozy.” (We are also big fans of the Little Bear television series. I want to be more like Mother Bear when I grow up.) Sendak’s illustrations are charming. The one pictured above is a composite of several Little Bear books from Barnes and Noble in the USA though so you would need three books: Little Bear, Father Bear Comes Home, and A Kiss for Little Bear.

Adventures of Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel is another B&N composite book. These are two of the most beloved best friends of children’s literature for good reason. We make jokes from these delightful books all the time – Toad croaking “Tomorrow!” about his chores, for instance – and enjoy them immensely. It’s also a “learn to read” book for Anne right now. The three books in our volume above are: Frog and Toad are Friends, Frog and Toad Together, and Days with Frog and Toad.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. A sad but heartwarming tale, this book means I am never allowed to kill a spider ever again. We all love Wilbur. Of course, you want the one with illustrations by Garth Williams. The recent movie of Charlotte’s Web is also quite good, I thought.

Stuart Little by E.B. White. Another classic, this was surprisingly well-received even though some content is rather dated. I had to explain certain customs of the decade to Anne and Joe, but otherwise, they were all in. They were delighted with little Stuart’s adventures.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Without a doubt, this was Anne’s favourite book of her kindergarten year. We read it and the promptly read it two more times, right through. She was absolutely enchanted with it. We have one that is a reproduction of the original 1900 edition, and the illustrations are a delight. I had completely forgotten that the ruby slippers are actually silver.

The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. You knew that this one was bound to appear somewhere. Yes, of course, this collection was the inspiration for all of my “In which…” blog post titles. If your sole exposure to Pooh is through Disney, you’re in for a treat. The books are surprisingly funny and intelligent, clever and winsome, tender and imaginative.

The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Anne fell in love with the Little House books, even listening to the books on tape while she coloured for hours during rainy afternoons. The story is interesting, and let me tell you, I resolved to complain a lot less after becoming re-acquainted with Ma and Pa Ingalls.  We nearly included Little House in the Big Woods in this list, too, because it is a close runner-up. (Seriously, go read the last chapter of that book and try not to cry.)

Richard Scarry’s Animal Nursery Tales is out of print, I believe. I found ours at a thrift shop. It’s all the classic nursery tales – Three Billy Goats Gruff, Little Red Riding Hood, Musicians of Bremen, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and so on. I love the old fairy tales, and the classic Scarry illustrations make them fun for the tinies, too.

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Ganett. Pure nonsense and fun, this book is fascinating for the younger set.

Posted by: Meagan | December 17, 2012

Prevention

There has been quite a bit of talk since the latest school shooting about what is causing these attacks on innocent people and I have done quite a bit of thinking, talking, and reading. People have exploded and un-friended people on facebook because of their opinions and so I will share here on my blog where I hope people will think through what I and others have to say more thoroughly. I ask that comments be tasteful and respectful.

Three things, three things are causing these shootings in my opinion. Media coverage, gun laws and most of all, the state of mental health in the United States. I will address them in that order and briefly because I don’t believe in being long-winded.

Media Coverage

Here is a link to a video that was done about a shooting in Germany.

In this video the Forensic Psychiatrist, Dr. Park Dietz talks directly to the media:

1. Don’t start the broadcast with sirens blaring.

2. Don’t have photographs of the killer.

3. Don’t make this 24/7 coverage.

4. Do not make the body count the lead story.

5. Don’t make out the killer to be an anti-hero.

6. Do localize this story to the affected area and make it as boring as possible to the rest of the country.

The consequence of doing those things? “When we see saturated coverage of a mass shooting we expect to see 1-2 more within a week.”

All news organizations have broken each of those tips. It seems to me that news organizations are so unwilling to pass up a story that they then are planting the seed within more mentally ill minds that this is okay, you will be remembered for something, people will know who you are and study you and some may even idolize you. It makes me sick that the media is so unwilling to help break this cycle, they just exacerbate it.

Gun Laws

This section isn’t going to go as many of you may have envisioned, I think that gun-free zones need to be abolished. Since schools became gun-free zones in 1994 they have been targeted by mentally ill people as easy targets because it is known that nobody can fight back! In many of the mass shooting, including the recent shooting in that Oregon mall, a private, armed citizen stopped the shooter. See this post entitled Gun Free Zones: An Article by Tom Givens, he gives a breakdown of shootings in his post.

In Israel there was a massacre, the Ma’alot massacre in 1974 and Israel instituted a policy in which volunteer school personnel, parents, and grandparents received special training from the civil guard, and were placed throughout the schools armed with discreetly concealed 9mm semiautomatic pistols.  Since then, there have been no successful mass murder at an Israeli school, and every attempt at such has been quickly stopped by the those armed teachers/parents/grandparents who stand watch over those children. I was surprised to learn that there are similar programs are in place in Peru and the Phillippines. Massad Ayood, a renown security expert encourages programs like these. You can read the full article here. We cannot continue to entice mentally ill people to take advantage of our schools, government buildings, zoos, offices or what have you.

Mental Health in the United States

I read this posted entitled I am Adam Lanza’s Mother, and although I really do hate the title because I don’t believe we should know the names of or care what the names of murderers are, the post was a perfect example of the state of the mental health care system in the US. And she points out that there practically is no heath care for the mentally ill in the US. It is disturbing to me to know that mentally ill people have nowhere to go to get help, that their families live in fear of them, waiting for them to snap and bracing themselves for that moment when parents stand in the way and the younger siblings have “safety plans” they know by heart and no long have to be told to do them. Read her post, it is written much better than I could and you will see why I think that it is the mental healthcare in the US that needs the most change, the most time and conversation.

Posted by: Meagan | November 19, 2012

WIP: Heritage Quilt Update

Some of you may remember that I have been talking to and working with my aunts and other female relatives on making a heritage quilt. I have forever been surrounded by guys and I really wanted something to help represent the women in my family even though I don’t live by any of them. So almost all of my aunts, my grandma, mom, and sister in law are all making one quilt block and sending it to me, I will then put them all together in one big quilt.

When I get one in the mail I get so excited, it’s like Christmas! So far I’ve received three quilt blocks and I wanted to share them with ya’ll since they bring me so much joy! I am so impressed with these women, their talent, and willingness to do this project, I had no idea that so many of them would be willing to participate. Thank you ladies!

My Grandma’s block represents a flower since she loves gardening and her flowers:

My Aunt Mary’s block, the small hearts represent her and the daughters who helped her sew it. The big heart in the middle represents their love for me, which I think is really sweet.

My sister in law Tammy’s block represents the US flag, which makes sense because my brother is in the Marine CORPS and we are a very patriotic family.

Now I’ve changed my idea for the extra blocks to make this a large quilt, I think I want to do this quilt block around the outside of the quilt, signifying how we are all linked together.

I found the chain block in this book Shape Workshop for Quilters, and I am really loving how the book breaks down the patterns.

Unfortunately I have no idea what I am going to do for my quilt block. Hmmm. I asked that my awesome relatives just send me their blocks by March 2013, so I will be updating periodically and hopefully by March I’ll also have my quilt block finished!

Posted by: Meagan | October 17, 2012

New Mom Helps

As I was cruising Pinterest I found this blog post: How to Help a New Mom, and I thought it had some really awesome ideas.

(Updated: I was asked to take off the ones I wanted to point out and have you go directly to the original post, so please go to the link there are great ideas there!)

I want to add some that I have found that helps.

- Bring a Treat: and I don’t mean junk food. A friend of mine brought homemade strawberry freezer jam and WHOA it was so delicious and gave me the motivation to get up in the morning with my older boys, get them breakfast and dressed so I could have strawberry jam on toast.

- Stop By: I only recommend this if you are good enough friends that she is willing to let you in the house when it is 2pm and everyone is still in pjs and the dishes aren’t done. While you are there, fold some laundry, wash the dishes, give the older kids a bath, watch the kids so she can nap or let her vent or ask questions or whatever. Having a new baby is emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting no matter how many times you have done it, so just be her friend and don’t judge.

- Surprise Her: With a date night in, take her older kids so she and her husband can have a date night in or just get some sleep. Bring her favorite smoothie, Sonic drink, offer to go shopping for her. Acts of service are really appreciated.

- Don’t Forget About Her! I say this because lots of people always want to help right after a new baby arrives, but it takes months for babies to start sleeping through the night, so don’t forget to do the above things in the months following a new baby’s arrival.

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