Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TRAVEL: our month long trip, part 1 (of ?)

In June we started a month long adventure.
Just the older kids and I drove from TX to Calif on a crazy 22 hour van ride (Casey and Clara joined us later). And actually, it wasn't as bad as I expected. They played, watched movies, played again, watched again, while I listened to Into the Wild in the front (excellent book).
And when we got bored, there was always the dessert to stare at.

Thank you trusty van for getting us there safely. And thank you Tucson for the gorgeous sunset. A beautiful half-way point arrival.
(first time seeing a saguaro).
Love these two munchkins.

TUTORIAL: Reversible, Lined, Color-blocked TOTE

I've got a new summer bag that I totally love.
It's nice and heavy-weight, the perfect size for all my stuff, annnnd......
It's reversible!
It's good to have options.

Here are the TOTE bag versions we've tried so far....

This time around we'll make it:
• reversible (similar to having a lining)
• color-blocked on the outside with heavy Duck Cloth (read more about duck cloth and other fabrics in my book)
• DIY handles
Summer, Summer, Summer time.
Let's get started.
If you've never made a bag before, read through the Basic Pocket Tote Tutorial first.

Start by cutting all your bag pieces. We're using Duck Cloth which is like a heavy canvas. It's very durable and typically comes in solid colors (though I've seen some fun prints at Hobby Lobby). Of course you can use other cotton fabrics as well.
The reversible bag is basically two separate bags, sewn together at the top. If you don't care about the reversible option, use a more lightweight fabric (maybe a cute print) for one of the bags and it will simply be a lining.

Decide what size you'd like for your bag.
Here are the dimensions I went with:
Cut 4 of each (2 per bag; different colors for each bag):
12 x 18 inches (bag front and back)
6 x 18 inches (bottom for bag front and back)
2.5 x 25 inches (handles)
Start by sewing the handles.
There are two ways to do this....
If you're using lightweight fabrics, place right sides of the fabric together and sew down each side. Then use a safety pin or bodkin to pull the long tube-like handle right-side out. Iron out the wrinkled handle.

However, with heavy duck cloth it's very difficult to pull the fabric right-side out.
• Sew down one side with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
• Iron out the seam
• Iron the raw edges of each handle side under 1/2 inch
• Fold the handle together and sew a top stitch down each side, about 1/8 inches from the edge.

Now piece together the back fronts and backs....
• With right sides of the fabric together, place the smaller rectangle on the larger rectangle and sew them together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
• Iron out the seam
• Top stitch over the seam for added strength and to help it lay flat.

Now your bag pieces are ready to assemble.
With right sides of the fabric together, sew each bag together (separately, like you're making two bags. For more info see the Basic Tote tutorial).
Then Box out the bottom of each bag, about 2 1/2 inches in on each side.
See detailed info in THIS tutorial.
And you're left with two cool looking bags.
You could leave them separate, throw on the handles, and give them away as gifts.
But attaching them together does makes your bag more polished, professional looking, and heavy duty.
Turn one of the bags inside out and place it inside of the other bag:
• Determine where the handles should go (mine are about 3 inches in from the sides). Then tuck the ends of each handle in-between the two bag layers, with about 2 inches of handle dangling inside. You may need to remove a few of the pins from above to do this.
• Sew a topstitch all the way around, about 1/4 inch from the top of the bag. Sew another parallel line next to it, 1/8 inch over for stronger hold.
And you're done!
Now give your tote a whirl.
I'm sure it loves the lake as much as the next girl.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

RECIPE: ice cream cookie sandwiches

If you've ever lived in LA or visited UCLA, then you know of the mind-blowing Diddy Riese cookie shop....where they sell cookie ice cream sandwiches for only one dollar (or is it $1.75 now?)
Either way, they must be selling drugs out the back of the store cause who makes money off of $1 treats??? And in LA?!

Actually, I guess the line is always 40 people long, all night long.
Because they are that yummy.
And ever since I had one (and also a pizookie from BJs across the street) they are now my favorite way to eat cookies and ice cream.
They're also my favorite treat to take along to a friend's house or a picnic at the park.
They start with that yummy Classic Chocolate Chip cookie recipe:
Keep the cookie size small and smash them down a bit so they bake flatter than normal.
Place the finished cookies in the freezer for a bit so they're firm.
Then start assembling with your favorite flavors (mint 'n chip is ideal).
Let the ice cream sit out for a few minutes so it's soft enough to scoop, but not melty.
No rocket science here...
Place a small scoop of ice cream on one cookie, place another cookie on top, and gently press down. Keep the ice cream scoop small or it will be hard to bite through the sandwich. Return the finished sandwiches to the freezer for an hour or more till ready to serve.
Now I just need to try dipping the finished cookie in chocolate (like an It's It)
If the final destination is your own home, then start chowing.
If you're taking them along to a party....
Place each individual sandwich in a square of wax paper and fold it up. Then carry them in a small ice chest with a good ice pack. I've taken these to an outdoor bbq multiple times and they stay pretty firm in the ice chest.

When the time comes, devour and savor.
and remember to....

more and more circle skirts

With lots of friends having babies, I went crazy and made more of these:
(not babies, just skirts)
I love making baby circle skirts! They're so fast---free pattern download here---a bit addictive, and easy to pair with a onesie.
This time I made a double-layered version (also easy) and it was even more bouncy and girly.
Clara approved.
Some of you have asked about a double-layered circle skirt, so here's what you do.
Start with the basic baby circle skirt tutorial and pattern:
Print off the skirt pattern above, or make your own. Then cut two skirts, cutting the underneath layer about 1 inch longer than the top layer. Just eyeball it, no need to make another precise pattern. If you want the under-layer to hang out extra long, cut it 1 1/2 inches longer....just do what works for you.
• Hem each layer separately.
• Join the two layers together at the top and baste (sew) or serge them together all the way around the top waist.
• Add your elastic and you're done!
(more detailed instructions in the original tutorial)
If you have a little label, throw it on the back.
Also...some of you have asked "how do you keep your sewn line so straight on the elastic? Mine looks wonky in spots..."
Yep. Mine too!
Just do your best. No one will notice when they're looking at how cute the skirt is on your babe.
Then make about 6 more skirts so you have gifts on-hand.
Then pair it with a little onesie, plain or decorated.
And dress it up with a sweater and tights and for church.
This cute business is exhausting.
(ps, these photos were taken a few months ago when Clara was 2 months old. I can't believe how much she's changed! 5 months old now. Time for a new month-by-month comparison).