September 26, 2010

DIY Sewing Machine Cover

Excuse the poor pictures. I'm camera-less for a few weeks and all I have is the camera with no flash on my phone. :(

I got my sewing machine in college. My Mom bought it for me at a garage sale for $3!! It works great for the occasional mending, and I've even been sewing a quilt with it. BUT, it needed a cover to keep the dust off. Enter the tutorial from Sparkle Power that I've had bookmarked for quite a while. 

This project is DIY - Design It Yourself. I changed it very slightly, but not much at all. The fabric I had been eyeing at Hobby Lobby for months, but never had a project to use it for - until now! I also picked a coordinating gray to tone down the busy-ness of the print. I bought 1 yard of each, and had plenty leftover.You'll also need some coordinating ribbon.

Supplies: plus thread

Start by measuring your sewing machine from bottom-front to bottom-back, as well as the width from the left side to right side. My machine ended up measuring 28 1/2" x 16 1/2". When you cut your fabric, you have to cut about 1/2" extra on each side to account for seam allowances. So I cut my fabric 29" x17". Then, I cut a 4 1/4" piece off each piece so I could attach it to the other fabric just for a little added detail. If that makes sense. So I ended up with a 12 1/4" x 29" piece and a 4 1/4" x 29" piece of each fabric. Still with me? You could just use two pieces instead - one for the front, and one for the back. But I wanted to jazz it up a little.

Pin the smaller piece of gray to the bigger piece of print with right sides of the fabric together. Sew together. I used 1/4" seam allowances, but you could also use 1/2" if that's your style. Now go press those seams open flat.

Cut four 10" pieces of your ribbon. I put a little Frizz-Ease on the ends to stop them from fraying. On the right sides of one piece of fabric, pin your ribbon about 6" from each corner. You want to put about 1/2" of ribbon sticking out, and most of the ribbon lying in the middle of the fabric. Then put the other piece of fabric on top, right sides together, pin around the edges, leaving about a 4" opening from where you start sewing. I like to put two pins marking where to start and stop sewing so that I don't forget and accidentally sew all the way around the edges. You need this opening to turn your fabric right-side-out.

Trim your corners to reduce bulk when it get turned right-side-out.

Now, turn your fabric right-side-out through the opening.  This little tool comes in really handy for getting the corners nice and sharp.

See the difference between just turning right-side-out, and using the tool to get the corners nice and sharp:

Now, take your fabric over to the ironing board because you want to press the outsides flat. Here's another little trick Mom taught me - Lick 'Em! Lick your thumb and first two fingers and rub the two pieces of fabric between your fingers to bring the seam to the outside. This way, your seam will be ironed nice and flat and your layers will be opened as much as possible. I hope that makes sense. It's such an easy and useful trick.

Fold over the edges of the opening to match your seam allowance, and pin shut. Then topstitch all around the edges (about 1/8" from the edge). I used contrasting thread to match the ribbon for this job, just to add a little extra detail.

Drape over sewing machine and tie ribbons together. There you go! Done! Cute reversible blanket to keep the dust off your sewing machine.


September 22, 2010

{recipe} Pasta ala Vodka

Weekly Test Recipes - week 37!

I'm camera-less the next couple weeks, so bear with my grainy phone pictures...
I'm back to pasta :)  This recipe is from Pioneer Woman.

PASTA ALA VODKA (Pioneer Woman)

1 lb. pasta (I used bowtie - half plain/half whole wheat)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. vodka
14 oz. tomato puree
1 c. heavy cream, or can substitute milk
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 c. Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions, just to al dente.  While pasta is cooking, head olive oil and butter over medium heat in large skillet.  Add onion and garlic and stir until tender.  Add vodka and cook/stir for a few minutes.  Add tomato puree and stir.  Reduce heat to low and stir in cream.  Simmer, and add red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Drain pasta and add to sauce; stir to combine.  Add Parmesan cheese and serve, garnished with more cheese.

This was a very easy dish to make.  I thought it was good, but thought it was just slightly tart (I'm not sure if that's the right word to use).  Maybe it was the vodka, or maybe it had too much of a pure tomato flavor for my taste.  I don't know, but it wasn't what I imagined it would be.  It was good, but I sprinkled Italian seasoning and garlic powder on my plate and stirred it, and I liked it with those additions much better.  So I may make this again, but with those additions for more flavor.

Rating: GOOD

September 20, 2010

Fast Fall Craft

I was home alone this weekend and the crafting bug hit.  Hard.  I browsed projects I've bookmarked on my computer, decided which ones I was going to tackle, and made a trip to Hobby Lobby.  I love you Hobby Lobby.  While I was there I found some new fall decorations, took lots of pictures of possible decor for the wedding, and left with much more than I went in for.  Details later this week or next about the project that inspired the HL trip.

While I was perusing the aisles, I walked past the aisle containing felt and immediately thought of the Valentine's decoration I had made.  Inspiration!  I veered right and picked out some fall felt colors for a new crafty idea.

* Felt in fall colors
* Coordinating ribbon
* Scissors
* Leaf pattern (I found mine in Google Images, copied into Word, printed off and traced/cut out of cardboard)
* Glue gun
* Lighter, matches, or candle lighter



1. After you trace and cut out your leaf stencil, trace onto felt pieces.  I cut out two leaves in each color, but didn't end up using all of them.  You can cut more or less, depending on how you want it to look.  I suggest using permanent markers to trace, preferably in colors similar to the felt (I used black for the red felt, and orange for the yellow/orange felt).

2. Cut out your leaves.  Preferrably while watching an episode of Bridezillas and gasping at their craziness.

3. I decided to use the lighter to spiffen up the edges of the leaves a little bit.  The candle lighters where you push the button to ignite worked well for this because it kept my fingers from getting too hot like a match would, and it can quickly be extinguished.  Run the lighter quickly along all the edges of your leaves so the edges darken/melt slightly.  Don't hold it too long in one spot, or it will melt and start to shrivel up.  This happened to me a couple times on one leaf and the points of the leaves disappeared, making the leaf very lop-sided.

4.  Hot glue the leaves to one length of ribbon..  I used a spacer (just the width of a measuring tape) to make sure all the leaves were equally spaced apart on the ribbon.  I cut about a 4-in. piece of ribbon, looped it in half, and glued to the top of the first leaf to use as a hanger.

5.  Viola!  Easy, quick, and cute!  Honestly, once I found the leaf pattern and printed it off, this was done in under an hour.

I'm linking to Get Your Craft On! at Today's Creative Blog

September 19, 2010

New Fall Decor

I took a trip to Hobby Lobby yesterday to get supplies for a project I'll be posting about later.  But it's impossible to visit HL without doing lots of browsing and dreaming. Fall decorations were 50% off, so I took a look around, and found these little cuties:

They look great in my living room with the fall decor I made last year:

It may be a little early for "Give Thanks" decor, since Thanksgiving isn't until November.  But I'm not a fan of Halloween and won't be putting up any Halloween decorations, so this will be up for a couple months.  Hey, it has beautiful fall colors and we should be thankful year-round, not just a couple weeks per year.  Later this week I'll be posting the project that caused the trip to Hobby Lobby in the first place.  I love it!  Now, if only South Texas had fall weather....

September 12, 2010

Wedding: The Venues

I haven't posted very many pictures for the wedding yet.  I don't want to give too much away, because I want our guests to take everything in and be surprised that day.  However, a lot of our guests aren't from the Willmar, MN area and therefore, unfamiliar with our venues.  So here's a little preview!
Our ceremony will be at the Green Lake Bible Camp Chapel on beautiful Green Lake in Spicer, MN.  We are so excited about the rustic look of this chapel!  And with such natural beauty, we won't have to do much decorating.  I have some things in mind though ;)
 the outside is as beautiful as the inside!

The reception and dance are going to be at The Oaks at Eagle Creek in Willmar, MN. 

photo courtesy of The Oaks at Eagle Creek
photo courtesy of The Oaks at Eagle Creek
We reallllly wanted to have our reception on a lake somewhere.  But despite the abundance of lakes in the Willmar area, there are limited options for reception venues on the water.  A couple places that we looked at were already booked for our date (we thought we were being creative getting married 09/10/11, but apparently it's a popular date and things are getting booked well over a year in advance).  We decided on The Oaks!  It's a beautiful location, right on the golf course, with lakes on both sides.  Interesting tidbit: I took Tony to my senior prom seven (!) years ago, which was held at The Oaks (then called Blue Heron on the Green)!

photo courtesy of The Oaks at Eagle Creek
Newly remodeled on the inside, with a brand new balcony patio overlooking the first green. 

We are so excited!!

September 11, 2010

{recipe} Blueberry Muffins

Weekly Test Recipes - week 36!

This recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen.  Check her out.  She cooks a lot of fancy things that I normally would think I'd never be able to make, but she makes it look really easy and provides detailed instructions.  She also adapts lots of recipes to make them simpler. 


5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg
3/4 c. sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen (don't defrost if frozen)

Combine butter and sugar with mixer until fluffy.  Add egg and beat well, then add sour cream and lemon zest.  Sift dry ingredients together and mix into batter just until flour disappears.  Gently fold in blueberries.  Preheat oven to 375* and grease muffin tins.  The batter is very thick, so use a couple spoons or an ice cream scoop to fill muffin cups 3/4 full.  I got 10 muffins out of this recipe. 

Bake 20-25 minutes until golden on top and toothpick comes out clean.  Insert knife around edges to release muffins, then cool on wire rack, or devour immediately.  I like mine cut in half with butter spread on the inside. 

I thought these were scrumptious; Tony thought they were missing something and needed to be a little sweeter.  I used sour cream because that's what I had on hand, so maybe that took away from the sweetness.  Another thing I liked was how high they got.  They were nice and tall and fluffy, not flat like other blueberry muffins I've made.  These rose nicely above the muffin tins.
Next time (and there will be a next time!) I'll use plain yogurt and see if they're a little sweeter.  Also, 3/4 c. blueberries seemed to be waaay too much when folding them in and when filling the muffin tins, but they came together nicely when baking.  These were really simple and took no time at all to stir together.  I think I'll go have another one!


September 9, 2010

{recipe} Homemade Tortilla Chips

Weekly Test Recipes - week 35!

I'm going to give full disclosure in this post....I failed at making this recipe two times before it turned out.  It's probably one of the easiest recipes I've tried in a long time, and I burned it twice. 

I came across this blog post about making your own tortilla chips, and decided it would be my test recipe for this week.

Followed the directions exactly, and this is what I ended up with when I took them out of the oven to flip over.....
Apparently broiling for 5 minutes on ONE side is much too long....the recipe calls to broil 5 minutes on EACH side.

I tried another pan BAKING at 450*...

After 5 minutes....too done and I hadn't flipped yet! At least some in the middle of the pan are salvageable.  I imagine my oven cooks very quickly.  Also, I should probably try cooking them on the BOTTOM rack of the oven instead of in the middle where I had these.

Another pan baking at 350*. Five minutes on each side was perfect!

Here's the recipe that turned out the most successful:


1 package small tortillas (I used whole wheat, original recipe called for white corn.  I will try white corn next time.)
Olive oil or olive oil cooking spray
Kosher salt to taste

Cut tortillas into triangles and arrange on greased baking sheet.  Spray or brush with oil and sprinkle with salt.  Turn and repeat.  Bake in 350* oven for 5 minutes, take out and flip over, and bake 5 more minutes.  Remove from oven and cool before enjoying with favorite salsa. 

Next time I make them, I'm going to try white corn tortillas, and I'm going to try splitting the tortilla layers apart (imagine a bagel) before cutting into triangles.  These were tasty, but just a little to think for my taste.  I think if I split the layers apart, it might be a little better.  These are definitely a nice change from grocery store tortilla chips once in a while.  Stay tuned for an update!

Rating: GOOD (with potential)

Here's my salsa recipe if you want it!

September 8, 2010

{recipe} Parmesan Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Weekly Test Recipes - week 34!

The blogger I got this recipe from called it "The Best Broccoli of Your Life" but I thought that was a little long.  It was pretty dang good though.  Even though I roasted it too long and it got a little toasty.  I think it got too roasty because I made a half batch, but still tried to cook it for the full amount of time.  Lesson learned. 


1 head broccoli
2 garlic cloves, minced through garlic press
1 lemon (or lemon juice)
Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh shredded Parmesan cheese (1/4 to 1/3 cup)

Cut broccoli into florets and dry thoroughly.  Place dried broccoli on foil-covered baking sheet.  Toss with oil, salt, and pepper.  Add minced garlic cloves and toss to combine.  Roast in 425* oven for 12-15 minutes, tossing occasionally, until some of the florets are browned.  Take out of oven and zest lemon and squeeze lemon juice over the broccoli, as well as a tablespoon or so more olive oil.  Then sprinkle Parmesan on top, stir, and serve.

YUMMMMM!  Even though I burned the broccoli, I still gobbled this up.  I will definitely be making it again.  It made about 2 servings.


September 2, 2010

{recipe} Cinnamon Rolls

Weekly Test Recipes: week 33!

I have been searching for the best cinnamon roll recipe for a few months now.  I previously tried Overnight Cinnamon Rolls, and thought they were just okay (a bit dry for my taste).  I've read many people on various blogs raving about Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls, so I decided to try her recipe next.  CAUTION: her recipe, as posted below, makes A LOT of rolls....I made a 1/4 recipe and ended up with 16 smallish rolls.  Next time I'm going to make a 1/2 recipe and hopefully get bigger rolls.

CINNAMON ROLLS (Pioneer Woman)

1 quart whole milk (I used 1%)
1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. sugar
2 packages active dry yeast (approx. 5 tsp.)
8 c. (plus 1 c. extra, separated) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 scant tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. salt

4 Tbsp. melted butter
2 c. sugar (I prefer brown sugar)
gound cinnamon

Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in yeast. Let sit for a minute, then add 8 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir until combined. Cover and let rise for at least an hour. After rising, add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together.

To prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle melted butter over the dough.  Sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. 

I suggest using probably twice as much cinnamon as you think you need.  Personal preferance though.  I like a strong cinnamon flavor.

Roll the dough in a neat line toward you, keeping tight.  Pinch the seam to seal it.  Cut the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and lay them in greased 9x13 pan.

This makes me happy.

Let rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 375* degrees until light golden brown, about 15 minutes.

fresh outta the oven

FROSTING: (see PW's recipe for her maple frosting...I made regular old powdered sugar frosting a la the kind you make for frosting sugar cookies, simply because I couldn't find the maple flavoring required for the PW recipe.)

1 c. powdered sugar (to start; I always end up adding a bit more as I mix)
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 c. milk
splash of vanilla

Mix all together, adding more powdered sugar if too runny and more milk if too dry.  Pour and spread over still-warm cinnamon rolls.  This recipe makes enough to cover the small batch I made.  It's a pretty forgiving recipe, so these proportions are guesstimated.  Fiddle around and taste-test until you find a combination you like.

Rating: EXCELLENT, especially if using brown sugar instead of granulated sugar in the filling

I brought these to work and completely forgot to take a picture before they were devoured - just one lonely little guy left!  He didn't last long ;)