Monday, February 23, 2015

Lentil Soup

Brrrr.....are you all as cold as I am?? Lately, we've had some of the coldest days I've felt since my childhood in Colorado. Pennsylvania is known for it's cold winters, but these past few days have been in the single digits and I'm not a fan All I want to do is curl up under a blanket with some hot chocolate and Netflix and hibernate until springtime. I'm SO very lucky that I have a boss that allows me to work from home because most days I dread even going outdoors.

Are you picking up on the fact that I'm a big cold weather baby?

It's not a secret. In fact, my husband is so used to my hatred of snow and cold that, every time the kids ask to go out in the snow and play, he immediately gets his snow gear on. He's a good man :)

On cold days like these, I look forward to a big steamy bowl of soup at the end of the day. It warms me right up and helps me remember that spring is (hopefully) not far away. Plus, you can't beat throwing a bunch of stuff in a pot and letting it simmer while you cuddle with the kiddos. That's the best form of warmth if you ask me :)

Lentil soup is one of my favorite soups since childhood. I remember my mom making it all the time. There's nothing fancy or unusual about this soup - it's just a big bowl of comforting deliciousness! Unfortunately, my husband and kids hate beans of all shapes and sizes (what's wrong with them?!), but I still make a big pot of lentil soup and freeze any leftovers to pull out on cold winter days.

You know you want some...

INGREDIENTS: 1 1/2 cups dried lentils, 6 cups water, 1 tablespoon beef bullion, 2 tablespoons dried parsley, 1 large onion chopped, 1 medium carrot diced, 1 bay leaf, 1/2-1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 clove garlic crushed, 1 cup chopped ham.

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 45 minutes. Remove bay leaf and enjoy!

Bonus points if you have some crusty bread to go along with it. This soup is simple and filling, and sometimes, those are the best kind of dinners.

Monday, February 16, 2015

DIY Denim Journals

Denim is becoming one of the newest and hottest crafting trends of 2015. Typically when I think about denim, it's for use in clothing only, or maybe as a fun accent like in my simple serged hand warmers project that I posted last week. When Michael's told us that this month's project challenge was going to be denim, my mind immediately went to clothing. I packed up the kids and headed out to gather supplies for what I was sure would be a clothing-related post - right up my alley! When I got there, I quickly realized that 1. denim is wayyy more versatile than I thought and 2. my project was definitely not going to be one involving clothing with all the cool options out there!

Michaels has a whole new product line called Make Market  for DIY project and home d├ęcor ideas – all made with simple, on-trend surfaces and textures like chalk, denim, galvanized, burlap and cork. I had a great time browsing the aisles and looking at all the fun things I wanted to buy.

You can see that I had a little fun with the industrial letters :)

And when I got to the denim, you can see why I wouldn't be making any clothing! They had more things than I thought could be done with denim: denim canvases, denim covered plates, denim dyes and paints...but no denim yardage.

I was a bit out of my comfort zone since I originally assumed I'd be making clothing, then I stumbled upon the cute denim letters in the picture above.  My mind immediately flashed back to the burlap-covered journals I had just seen in the Make Market aisle, and I knew exactly what to make - denim journals! And wouldn't you know, those cute little denim letters are the perfect size for the journal covers.

It was denim destiny I tell you.

Since I always seem to come up with craft ideas at the weirdest times, these little personalized inspiration journals are a handy way for me to jot down crafting ideas when they hit. While I made mine to be used as crafting journals, they could be used for anything really! Sketching, journaling, diaries, sticker collecting...whatever your thing is! Ready for the easiest project ever?

SUPPLIES: (most items were found in the Make Market aisle of Michaels) burlap journal, hot glue and glue gun, denim letters, denim patterned washi tape, denim shapes, burlap and denim gift tags (optional)

First, use your glue gun to glue your letters onto the front of your burlap journal and let dry.

If you'd rather use something else other than the letters, Michael's also has cute denim shapes that you could use. I made this journal above for my daughter to draw in, so I went with the denim heart shapes found in the Make Market aisle.

After adding your lettering or shapes, take the super awesome denim tape and attach it along the binding of your journal, then trim excess.

And that's it! Simplest, fastest project ever. And sometimes those are the best kind. I love that I have a personalized journal to add inspiration ideas and photos to wherever I go. I can just slip it in my purse or keep it in my car to write in whenever inspiration hits.

I also grabbed some of these adorable burlap patterned gift tags to use as a bookmark.

Now onto some super secret-y stuff! Michaels Makers readers are getting the inside scoop on an upcoming craft contest that will send one lucky participant on the trip of a lifetime to Paris. Paris, people!! Be sure to check back here March 2 to get all the details on how to enter to win the trip of a lifetime!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Simple Serged Handwarmers

This post first appeared on The Sewing Rabbit, and now I'm bringing it home! Hope this DIY helps warm your chilly hands this winter :)

My husband got me a serger for Christmas, and I couldn't have been happier (it's the Brother 1034D in case you're wondering, and I absolutely LOVE it.) I had been wanting one for awhile, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and try it out. The only problem was, what to make? After thinking about it for awhile, I came up with the idea to make a few hand warmers for Christmas gifts.

Hand warmers are perfect for the chilly winter weather we've been getting, and they're also the perfect project for practicing with a serger in case you have one (or you convince your husband to get you one for Christmas too :) If you don't have a serger, no problem! Just use a zig-zag stitch around the edges instead.

SUPPLIES: 1/4 yard cotton fabric, serger and thread, long grain rice, funnel, essential oil.

First, cut out 5x5 inch squares from your pieces of cotton. I went with some gingham and chambray scraps I had in my stash.

Next, remove the right needle on your serger by using the little screwdriver your machine came with. Make sure to tighten well after you remove the right needle so that your remaining needle is lined up properly on the left side.

Pin two squares wrong sides (or the sides without the pattern) together.

Beginning at one of the corners, start to serge along each edge with a 1/4-1/2 inch seam allowance. To serge corners, I serged along the edge until I reached the corner then, with the needle still down, I raised the foot and turned my square and began to serge along the next edge.

Stop serging when you're about 1 1/2 inches from where you began and clip your loose threads.

Use a spoon or funnel to fill your hand warmer with rice. Make sure not to overfill, because you still need to serge the opening and you don't want to get rice in your serger :) I used about 3/4 cup I think.

Add 2-3 drops of essential oil to the rice (this will help the hand warmers smell nice each time they're heated!)

Finally, serge your opening closed by starting at the corner and overlapping your stitches. Tie the ends of your strings in knots to make sure nothing comes unraveled and clip the excess.

These little hand warmers make great stocking stuffers or gifts for neighbors. Stack a few together and tie with some baker's twine! Easy.

To heat, simply stick them in the microwave for 30-40 seconds. They're perfect little companions when you need help staying warm outdoors (or keeping your feet warm in bed on chilly winter nights!)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Faux Cross Stitched "Love" Shirt

I love the look of cross stitching on clothes. It can really add a lot of personality to a dull, plain shirt. With Valentine's Day coming up, I thought it'd be fun to try out a little faux cross stitching on my daughter's shirt by using my CAMEO to make the stitches rather than hand sewing - and I gotta say, I love the result!!

The "stitches" are actually little X's made of transfer material that spell out "love." This shirt couldn't have been easier to make! And while I used my CAMEO, you could also achieve the same result with fabric paint and freezer paper stenciling if you're willing to take the time to cut out lots of little X's.

This shirt is the perfect project to make for your little Valentine :) Let's make one!

SUPPLIES: white shirt, Silhouette or Silhouette CAMEO, red heat transfer material , Silhouette cut file HERE, iron and ironing board.

Download my free Silhouette cut file HERE, or to make your own I opened up Silhouette Studio and typed out "love" in a bold font. Then, I filled in the blank space inside the letters with X's using the grid as a guide. After you've filled your wording with X's, click and move the wording off of the design area so that only the X's will be cut.

Before cutting, be sure to click and group all of your X's, then mirror your image so that your wording won't be backwards. Cut.

Follow the instructions on the heat transfer material to iron onto your shirt (I personally ignore the instructions and instead set my iron to "satin" and iron directly on the shiny plastic material on the back of the heat transfer. Then I peel off the shiny part and swipe a few times directly on my heat transfer material to make sure it's set.)

The result is an adorable faux cross stitched shirt that my daughter can wear for V-Day and beyond!

Love her little furry boots that I got from Target! They've been sooo handy during these snowy days we've had lately. When we get up the motivation to leave the house on these snowy days, that is ;)

Also, leggings are made by me using this gorgeous buffalo plaid from Girl Charlee.

Love is in the air!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Let It Snow Embroidery

Has anyone made a New Year's resolution to try a new craft? I love tinkering in different creative mediums here and there. It challenges me to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new, and many times I find a new craft that I absolutely love! Dabbling in different crafts is also great for breaking up the monotony that can happen if you're used to doing one thing most of the time (like sewing, for me.)

This year, fueled by my desire to try something new (and also inspired by my friend Bev at Flamingo Toes who is basically the queen of embroidery), I decided to try embroidery; and now I think I have a new favorite TV watching activity! Embroidery is one of those crafts that's perfect for multi-tasking. You can kick your feet up and put a good movie on in the background while you stitch away. And also, it's amazingly therapeutic. I bet we could all save a few stress-induced headaches by taking up embroidery :)

For my project, I came up with this "Let It Snow" embroidery hoop. Isn't it adorable with all of those French knots?? Love love. If you're a newbie at embroidery, this one's for you. It only involves two kinds of embroidery stitches: the backstitch and French knots. It couldn't be easier! Let's do this.

SUPPLIES: tailor's chalk pen, thing black cotton fabric, embroidery hoop (approximately 8 1/2 inches in diameter or larger), white embroidery thread, embroidery needle, free "Let It Snow" template found here, one square of felt, hot glue.

ONE: first, print out the "Let It Snow" template found here.
TWO: cut a piece of black fabric at least 2 inches bigger than your hoop on all sides.
THREE: Next (and I'm sure there are better ways of doing this, this is just how I did it), tape your template and fabric to a window and trace the wording onto your fabric with a white fabric chalk pen (I used this one.)
FOUR: insert your fabric with wording now on it into your hoop and tighten to secure.


Now we're going to do a little backstitching! This is such an easy, basic stitch that will give your wording a clean look if done right.

ONE: thread your needle and tie a knot at the end. Insert your needle under your hoop and through your fabric about 1/4 inch before the end of your first letter
TWO: bring your needle down at the edge of your letter
THREE: next, bring your needle back up from the bottom of your hoop 1/4 inch from the end of your last stitch
FOUR: bring your needle and thread down into the hole of your last stitch. There you go!

Keep backstitching until you've reached the end of your first letter. Tie a knot on the backside of your hoop, then trim your thread.

The second picture shows you what the underside of your hoop will look like.

Keep backstitching each letter until all of your lettering is done.

French Knots:

French knots are a little tricky, but once you get it, you'll be adding French knots to everything! If you get confused, here is a good visual example on how to make French knots.

ONE: first, separate your strand of embroidery thread (you can see that mine has 6 threads) so that you're only using 3 threads.
TWO: thread your needle and tie a knot at the end, then poke your needle up through your fabric from the bottom.
THREE: (this was hard to show using one hand, but hopefully you get the idea) with your left hand holding your needle, pinch your thread close to the base. This is very important!
FOUR: with your right hand, wrap the thread around your needle 3-4 times while continuing to hold the thread taut with your left hand
FIVE: pull the floss gently with your left hand so that the coil will tighten up and slide down your needle to make a little bundle against the surface of your fabric, then poke your needle back down through your fabric, slightly next to the hole (not through the same one) that you made when bringing the needle up.

Now put on a movie (or two) and do this LOTS of times.

Look at all the pretty French knots!

Continue on until your hoop is filled with lots of pretty French knots that look like snowflakes.

When you are finished, trim your fabric on the back, leaving one inch. Using your needle and thread, sew a running stitch around the edge of your fabric and pull to gather. Knot and trim your thread. Cut a circle of felt big enough to cover the back of your embroidery hoop, and hot glue on to cover your stitching.

Now hang on your wall and enjoy the snow outside while you're warm and toasty indoors working on your next embroidery project :)

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