Homemade Christmas Gifts – Recycling Too Small T’s

My kids have been having so much fun making gifts for family members.  It’s so nice to see them working on something for someone else.  They do it because they want to – I didn’t suggest it.  It’s inspiring!  So, I’ve been working on some gifts for them.  First up is a “new” t-shirt for my six-year-old.  His beloved armadillo shirt is two sizes too small and beginning to show it’s age.

ArmadilloTI used the t-shirt as a pattern to cut a new, bigger body from some brown knit that I had. I cut the armadillo out of the front and then, I cut sleeves from the back of the old shirt. Except when I went to put it together I remembered that I didn’t cut the sleeves a little bigger. So, I added a brown stripe to the underarm.

IMG_5579The sleeves are hemmed with green thread to add a little color.  I did the same thing with the neck binding.  The patch is sewn on using a feather stitch, but you could use your favorite decorative stitch or even just a zigzag.  I did a rolled hem with my serger (one of my favorite things to do!  It’s just so easy!).


 I’m sure he’ll be happy to see his new armadillo shirt!

IMG_5578Do your kids enjoy making gifts for people?  Have you ever remade a shirt or other beloved article of clothing?


Boys Christmas T’s

I love making my daughter’s Christmas dress each year.  There are so many fun things you can do with girls dresses and my daughter usually has a few ideas of her own.  Boys, however, are harder!  My boys are NOT into suits and ties.  They’re happiest in shorts and t-shirts.  On Sundays, they will grudgingly put on a polo shirt and some “dressy” shorts (aka not knit gym shorts).  So, a couple years ago, I made them Christmas shirts with ties attached.


I used a turtle neck for my youngest.


I used a long sleeve T for my middle child.

Last year, I cut the sleeves off the long sleeve T to make a shirt for my youngest and I’m not sure my middle child had a Christmas shirt…bad mom. *blush*  This year, I decided to do the same thing, except I made T-shirts too.


I made a simple tie pattern and then made sure it wasn’t too long/short for the shirt.


Make sure you really pin the tie to the shirt. There’s nothing more frustrating than a crocked tie!!

I sewed them on using a decorative stitch on my machine, but a zigzag would work too.  I personally like the slightly frayed look around the edges.

ChristmasTieFrayedComfy enough to play outside in, but still nice enough to get compliments.YoungestTie
Boys in t-shirts with ties – does it get any cuter or easier?

Cube Steak & Onions

CubeSteakOnionsOne of the things I have a hard time with is using up leftovers.  Some things can just be reheated – like soup.  Other things don’t reheat so well.  Cube steak is one of them.  I normally try to make just enough, but sometimes I end up with leftovers.  My father-in-law knew exactly what to do with them and it was delicious!!  He fried up several onions in butter and then put the leftover cube steak (chopped into bite size pieces) in and heated it long to warm them through.  Mmmm!!  So easy!  If you want a one dish meal, toss in some veggies with the meat, cover it and let it simmer for about 8 minutes.

Do you try to use up leftovers?  Do you just reheat them or remake them?

Seamingly Smitten Giveaway

Recently (in the past year), Ive discovered a couple shops that make and sell patterns for kids & adults.  One of them is Seamingly Smitten.  Last year I found her when the Love Me Knots dress came out.

Love Me Knots Dress

More recently, she inspired me to try my twin needle.

Jenny recently made her 10,000th sale on Etsy (how awesome is that?!?!) and is celebrating by having a giveaway!  If you sew, you don’t want to miss this.  Hop on over to her blog and start entering!

Using A Twin Needle

Using a Twin Needle

A couple months ago I read this post on how to use a twin needle.  It looked so easy!  When I got my machine (over 15 year ago!), I noticed that it came with a twin needle.

Twin Needle

Still in it’s original, unopened package!

So, I decided that since it looked so easy, I was going to try it out.

OpenTwinNeedeIt really was easy to thread it!

ThreadedTwinNeedleIt sewed just like a regular single needle.  Since it was my first time trying it and I was sewing a school skirt for my daughter, I didn’t want to try thread that was too contrasting.  After seeing how nice and neat it looks, I’m thinking of all the different ways I could use it and with different colors!


Fostering A Dog

Fostering A Dog

I’ve mentioned before that we foster animals for the humane society – mostly kittens.  The other day, my daughter commented that we haven’t had any in a while.  She was wondering if I had gotten any e-mails recently.  I told her no, I haven’t even had any for dogs.  Ever say something like that?  The next day, guess what?  I got an e-mail from them saying that they had two dogs that needed to be fostered.  One required a three month commitment.  Since we’ve never had a dog (at least not since DH and I were kids), that one was out.  The other one was only a two week foster.

After checking with DH, I e-mailed them back to see if she was still available.  The next thing I know, my phone is ringing and it’s the humane society saying that Lulu is still available.  They said she’s a shepherd mix and super sweet – loves everyone and everything so she’d be fine with out kids and cats.

Notice they said shepherd mix?  It never occurred to me that shepherd could include german shepherd.  It didn’t occur to me while we were at the humane society meeting her.  It didn’t occur to me until my brother mentioned that she looked like the dog my neighbors had when I was a kid.  By then though I’d already decided that she was OK.  As a kid, I was afraid of my neighbor’s german shepherd and he knew it!  My husband had a german shepherd as a kid and he loved it.  I said no way, if we ever get a dog, it will not be a german shepherd.  Except that this one is so loving and I’ve changed my tune a bit.

She’s a foster because she’s on medicine for a UTI.  The first few days we had her, she was so laid back and didn’t bother the cats at all!  We were impressed!  A walk around the block in the morning and a couple trips outside during the day and she was good to go.  Then, yesterday, we noticed that she was getting a bit more frisky – more like an 11-month old pup.  I couldn’t figure out why.  We were still making sure she got outside to run around and she had a couple toys and a bone for in the house.

Then, DH realized that she must be feeling better!  She wants to chase the cats.  Although I really think she just wants to play with them, the cats are not having it.  They puff up and hiss and growl.  Lulu lays down, puts her head down and makes this cute little noise.  She also jumps on the furniture more and she is definitely too big for our furniture!  The kids aren’t sure what to think of the “new” Lulu.  She wants to play even when they don’t.  More trips outside are definitely on the agenda as well as trips to the local dog park (which happens to be very nice!).

I feel bad that I’m counting the days until she’s ready to go back and find her forever home, but this experience has proved two things to me – we won’t be fostering a dog again and we’re probably not ready to have one of our own either!  What about you?  Are you a dog person or a cat person?  Any advice for us to get us through this week?

Resizing Sewing Patterns

Resizing Sewing Patterns

Since my daughter is going to private school this year, we’ve entered the world of school uniforms.  We bought polo shirts for $5 each at Old Navy.  I don’t think I can make one for less than that – plus the hassle of making those little button holes and lining up the buttons…ugh!  Skirts and jumpers however are easy to make.  Except when you pull out your patterns and see this.

Resizing Patterns

Seriously? Size 4? Even an 8 isn’t quite big enough.

I’m sure it wasn’t that long ago that I bought these sewing patterns and now my little girl needs a size 10.  Where did the time go?  Anyway, back to pattern resizing.

Resizing a Pattern - Measuring the PatternI held the skirt piece up to her and measured how much longer it needed to be.

Making Skirt Long EnoughIt needs to be about six inches longer so I measured from edge and marked it with a pin.

IMG_4521It also needs to be a little wider.  Each size is about 1/4 inch so I added an inch to the width of the skirt.

Resized Pattern PieceThe finished resized piece.  I measured my daughter and the resized pieces to be sure the waist and hips would be the right size.

The finished skirt – a perfect fit.

Finished SkirtHave you ever resized a pattern or do you just buy a new one?

Cinnamon Bun Waffles

cinnamon bun waffles

When I was a kid, we had waffles and sausage for dinner almost every week.  I loved sausage, especially if it was a little heavy on the fennel.  The waffles…well, I didn’t like them so much.  I always thought they should be good!  Who doesn’t love something smothered in syrup?  I tried them with lots of syrup, just a little syrup, lots of butter, a little butter, butter & syrup, but nothing seemed to help.  They always gave me a belly ache.  I never mentioned that to my parents (I’m really not sure why!); I just said I didn’t like waffles.  Finally, after several years (!!) of eating waffles and getting a bellyache, I told my mom.  She was properly horrified and said I could make some pancakes to eat with dinner.  So, for the past 25+ years, I’ve firmly maintained that I do NOT like waffles.

Then, one day a couple years ago, we were at my parents for dinner and they were having waffles and sausage.  I figured I could eat a small piece and then fill up on sausage.  So, I ate a small piece…it was REALLY good!  No stomach ache at all!  I ate another one and possibly another!  We have several theories on why they don’t bother me anymore (maybe it was actually the sausage – I’ve since had my gall bladder out, maybe it was the milk in the waffles – this time they were made with seltzer, maybe my taste buds changed).  Regardless, waffles show up on our menu regularly now.  I always had to borrow my parents waffle iron…then for my birthday, my brother got me my own.  It makes two at a time – awesome!

Waffle Maker

I’ve mentioned before that John comes home with recipes from his speech class.  One of them was cinnamon buns made in a waffle iron.  We had a package in the fridge that I just never got around to making.  So, this morning for breakfast, I made them.  It was so easy!  Spray the waffle iron, put one cinnamon roll in each section and cook.

IMG_4548The best part is that the icing stays put (at least until you take the first bite).IMG_4549So, do you like waffles?  What other things do you cook in your waffle iron?

Homeschool Plans for 2014-15

*This post contains affiliate links.

Since we’re starting school today, I figured I better get this post up! CurriculumBooks

This year will be different – my daughter will be attending a private school.  I will still be homeschooling two kids – my boys who are in grade 3 and K.  I’m excited for what we’ll be able to do and sad that I won’t be homeschooling all three of them.

Sheldon's New Primary Language Lessons

I was able to purchase some science and history curriculum and I have Sheldon’s New Primary Language Lessons that I’m going to be trying out.  For math, we’re going to continue with Saxon Math 3 and some Khan Academy for my 3rd grader.  For K, we’ll work mainly on learning to read and some simple math.  One of our local libraries has Hooked on Phonics available to check out so we’ll use that along with the Dick and Jane books I got from my Gramma.  My kindergartener will listen to our 3rd grade science and history lessons and I’m sure we’ll be reading some panda books (he loves pandas!).

Gym will be walking and biking around our neighborhood plus swimming.  I’ll be teaching art again this year (at my daughter’s school) and my boys will tag along.  For music, I think we’ll work on learning kid’s Bible songs.  There will be lot of dessert baking as my 3rd grader wants to be a baker when he grows up.    We also belong to a homeschool co-op that meets for gym and field trips.

My third grader has requested that we continue with computer programming.

We’ll also be doing a lot of reading – I don’t have a specific reading list this year.  The only book we’re definitely reading is A Land Remembered Student Edition Volume 2.

When do you start homeschooling?  Do you have your year planned out?

National S’mores Day – August 10

Delicious Golden Grahams S'mores

I was first introduced to this delicious dessert when I was in sixth grade (almost 30 years ago – yikes!).  Every year, the sixth grade class would go on a 3 day/2 night campout.  One night I remember watching a movie and the chaperones started bringing out these snacks.  I didn’t know what they were (can you imagine?  Not knowing what a s’more is?).  They were delicious and other kids seemed to know what they were.  Someone told me what they were called and from that point on, I was in love.  Well, with s’mores anyway.

Then my mom found this recipe on the back of a box of Golden Grahams.  Delicious!  I made tons of these growing up!

Indoor S’mores

8 cups Golden Grahams
1 1/2 cups Milk Chocolate Chips
6 cups mini marshmallows
5 T butter
1 t vanilla
1/4 cup light corn syrup (opt)
Melt 5 cups marshmallows, chocolate chips, butter, and corn syrup in a sauce pan.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.  Grease a 9×13 pan.
Pour cereal into a large bowl and pour marshmallow mixture over it stirring until evenly coated.  Stir in remaining marshmallows (I always add some extras too).
Press mixture into pan.  Cool at least one hour or until firm.  Cut into bars.  Store loosely covered at room temperature.

For more s’more ideas, check out my Pinterest board.