Monthly Archives: February 2014

Great Internet Finds: Market Tote Tutorial from Bijou Lovely


I have had this Market Tote from Bijou Lovely tutorial bookmarked for probably a year.  And I’ve had an adorable Cloud 9 cotton canvas waiting for months and months to be turned into a bag.  It was only a week ago I put one and one together and realized they are MADE for each other!  I’ve been wanting to make a catch all bag (library trips, farmers market, kids stuff at church, swimming lessons, etc.) for awhile, but never really committed until I figured out this combo.  Now I am so happy to replace the ugly green Winco bag I often used  for such outings!

This feels much better!


This tutorial is great – seriously! I have tried many a tutorial as I’ve learned to sew, and some are complete and easy to understand, and great pictures that fill in any questions, but in my opinion, it’s rare that I don’t have to fill in a single blank on my own.  This tutorial is that rare gem- oh, and with a fabulous outcome to boot!  Thank you, Bijou Lovely! You will be my tutorial inspiration when I finally attempt one!

So, the fabric I used was the Cloud 9 Bark & Branch canvas in blue and a Robert Kaufman cotton/linen blend in a natural.  I was trying to make this a very quick project, so I skipped the interfacing step.  I was using a canvas and a hardy linen/cotton, so I felt like it would have enough weight.  And it did.  If I’d wanted to spend a bit more time on the project, it probably would have made a good addition- a bit more stability.  I don’t think it’s missed too much, though, with a decently thick home decor weight fabric.  With anything lighter though, I wouldn’t recommend skipping the interfacing.

One other variation on the tutorial I did was to make the lining pieces just a bit bigger in height (about a half inch or less) bigger than the outside fabric.  I wanted a little trim of the linen on the top of the bag, so when I got to the second to the last step, top stitching the top edge- I just made sure the linen poked up out a bit.  If you do this, just make sure the lining is fitting in nicely (I pinned at the bottom before pinning the top for top stitching), and I top stitched on the outer fabric and the lining.


Oh, and if I hadn’t been trying to keep it to a couple hour project, I would have added a pocket into the lining.  I am sure I will make this same bag again, with different fabric, so I’ll do it next time.  I’ll update any tips on here when I do.  Anyway, try out this Bijou Lovely’s fantastic tutorial if you are looking for a great market bag- with spring right around the corner, I think we could all use one of these!




Leave a comment

Filed under Fabric Finding, Sewing

Cooking With Kids Series: Fruity Breakfast Shakes


Around our home, food is a big deal. It has always been a major priority to introduce our children (and ourselves) to the delicious, healthy, fantastic foods that the earth has to offer. We’ve also tried to involve them in the preparation, as age permits, and they are SO excited when we do – in fact, as a side note, I have noticed this is a fantastic way to get them more interested in trying new foods.  However, with so many things on our plate, and now our little baby starting to eat her own new foods, I find I have been less and less motivated to involve the kids.  And, even worse, I am falling into the rut of the same food repertoire week in and week out.  With the shelves and shelves of cookbooks in our home, I decided I needed to shake it up.

So, I pulled out a few of our kid friendly cookbooks and let the kids thumb through them.  We decided each week, we would mark on a calender what foods we would make together, new recipes we hadn’t tried before.  Of course, children of mine came back with all desserts, so we changed it up a bit- one dessert and one other for each kid per week.  We will be doing so week by week.

It has been fun so far.  Good for giving me ideas on quick, healthy, and kid friendly things I can put together, and great for teaching my children the basics of the kitchen.  The husband and I both have a goal that we would love to see our children leave our home with some real cooking skills.  We believe it will benefit their health, their self-sufficiency, their finances, maybe even their social life (Brad didn’t have to try too hard, but his cooking definitely helped win me over!).

I decided to incorporate this as a series on the blog: The Cooking with Kids Series, where I will share one or two of the recipes we did the week before.  Last week, with a lot going on for Valentine’s, I wasn’t too quick with the camera while we did it, so I’m sharing the simplest recipe we did (and the only one I took any pictures of!).  However, it is a super one to add to your little recipe book in your brain, because it is super quick, healthy, and my kids went gaga for it.  It’s kind of a no-brainer, but one I hadn’t done yet, so maybe it will benefit someone else as well.


This one we adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Kid’s Cookbook: A great book for kids who love to cook:

Fruity Breakfast Shake:

1 cup vanilla yogurt (I used Greek, organic)

1 cup strawberries, or peaches, or blueberries (Since it’s winter, we did frozen and left them about half frozen, blueberries leave completely frozen).

1 Tbsp. honey (Blueberries will not need this sweetness, but it can be added if desired anyway).

A handfull of ice if using fresh fruit.

Put ingredients into a blender and blend well.  We have a stick blender and use it daily- I highly recommend one. We used that for this (so clean up is about ten seconds!).

Pour into cups and enjoy!

I know, kind of a duh! recipe, but the kids loved it, it was a great way to get some different fruit in at breakfast in the middle of Winter, and since we did strawberries, it was a perfect Valentine’s week treat.IMG_6971-editMy daughter was so inspired, she spent the morning “baking cake” from the recipe book!

Leave a comment

Filed under Book, Cooking with Kids, Food

Last Minute Valentine’s Day Card – FREE PRINTABLE

Since I just posted on here, I was planning on holding off a day to post this, but I love the quote so much, I thought I’d put it out there right now, in case anyone finds it to be just the right thing for their Valentine’s Day (and maybe it can go with your own handmade gift – see our previous post).


We have been reading Winnie-the-Pooh to our kids lately. I grew up on the Disney Winnie, and never knew the absolute charm in the original book itself until my dad gave my daughter The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh for Christmas. It is enchanting, entertaining even for adults (yeah, I really like that in a kid’s book), and offers awesome little gems from time to time. I came across this one, and decided it is my new favorite Valentine’s Day quote. I had to make it into a little card. So, our first Free Printable is up. Just right click on the image and save or click the Print & PDF button below, grab some card stock, and give this to someone you don’t want to live without!

Leave a comment

Filed under Holiday, Printables

Warm Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies on a Snow Day

Aside from a couple of one day or less dusts of snow, we have had nil until this weekend.  I was, on one hand, mad, because part way into February means I might even start running outside, the kids can hit the parks (in coats), and Spring is not so far away.  I am a Spring girl.  But the kids hadn’t really got a chance to play in the snow, and really, what good is seriously cold weather with no snow at all!


It really hit here in Washington, finally.  It was a fun shake up for February, which, though short, always seems to drag for me.

So the kids got out and played.  We haven’t bought a sled yet, and Brad was seriously wishing he could head to Target to grab one.  We decided it was a bit too nasty out to justify, so he made a make shift sled to pull the kids around our hill-less backyard.  It’s a big Rubbermaid storage container lid inside a big black trash bag.  My MacGyver!


The baby didn’t last too long, so she and I went indoors and whipped up some peanut butter cookies to warm the kids’ bellies when they came in.


I haven’t done a recipe on the blog in awhile, so here it is:

Quick & Easy Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies:


½ cup butter (I’m dairy free for now, for babies sake,  and used a dairy free butter substitute stick, which worked perfectly)

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup honey (or brown sugar)

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. vanilla

1 egg

1 ¼ cup whole wheat (feel free to use white flour if you like, but it turns out awesome with whole wheat, so why not?!)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix butter & peanut butter  (I prefer in a mixer if you have one- mix for about 30 seconds.)

Add sugar, honey, baking powder and baking soda and mix until combined.

Add egg and vanilla, beat in, then add flour and mix just till all ingredients are combined well.

Ball up about a Tbsp. of dough, and place on a cookie sheet ( I always add parchment paper to the sheet before laying down dough.  I find this makes for very even baking).

Continue with enough balls to fill sheet, with about two inches in between each ball of dough.

Gently and barely push down each ball by making an X with a fork (or whatever you prefer on you peanut butter cookies).

Bake in the center of the oven for 7 minutes.

When it’s done, immediately put onto a cooling rack.  I gently pull the parchment paper off of the sheet and onto the rack with the cookies still on the paper.  I find this made for the perfect chewiness when cooled a bit (Who doesn’t love a perfectly chewy cookie!). If you don’t use parchment, give the cookies a couple minutes on the cookie sheet (on the rack), then remove with a spatula to the cooling rack. I find letting them sit too long on a sheet cooks the cookies too much. Let cool about ten minutes total then Enjoy (unless you’re me- I waited about one).

With a mixer this takes about 10-15 minutes to put together and bakes quick.  Easy, quick, not too dirty! Perfect for a snowy day! Sorry no pictures- I was trying to hurry, and it didn’t cross my mind (and they were gone before it did!).

What are you doing on your snow days? We love great ideas, because it’s looking like Spring is a ways away!

Leave a comment

Filed under Food

Valentine’s Day: Show Your Love with Handmade Gifts

I adore Valentine’s Day.  Not so much in the past. Maybe lots of people feel this way, but I’m pretty sure I was Valentine’s Day cursed up till several years ago (and even after being happily married, I still ended up in the ER in the middle of Valentine’s Night after a botched root canal.  Ug- cursed!).  But once I had kids (who could eat cookies and cupcakes!), I realized Valentine’s Day was a perfect excuse to have fun and celebrate as a laugh in the face of the Great gray beast February (in the words of Clive Barker). I have been making Valentine’s Day a really big deal in our house for about 3 years now.  It’s not only near the end of the long stretch of cold, stuck-in-doors January and February, but it’s also quite the holiday dry spell after New Year’s without Valentine’s Day (unless you go all out for Groundhogs Day, I guess). So we do a party, and decorate, do crafts, fun breakfast, lunch and dinner – kind of make a couple days of it (and if I’m lucky, the romance part gets stuck in there, too!).
So this year I decided that along with our celebrating, I would start a new tradition of giving each of my children a gift I made for them.  I felt like it was:

a) a perfect excuse to make them a thing I was already hoping/planning to make (deadlines always help me get motivated!) and

b) a great way to show my love, by putting some time and attention into making them something I knew they would love that came from my hands. Every time I work on a project for one of my children, I feel like I am imbuing that thing for them with my love, and there is something extremely satisfying about that. Yet with all the busyness that fills every single day, it is often so much easier to plunk down some money for something and save myself hours when gift time creeps up quickly. Handmade just feels a bit more connecting to me (and hopefully the kids).


Well, one of the gifts was a no-brainer for me.  I absolutely fell in love with this Wee Wanderer Michael Miller fabric designed by Sarah Jane. I get mine at my favorite online fabric shop, Hawthorne Threads.  I had a large pillow form waiting around from some bedroom redecorating I’ve been up to.  When I saw the fabric, I knew I’d found a perfect match!  I cheated and gave it to my daughter a bit early to get some pictures.  She loved it almost as much as I did.  I think I love this fabric so much because of the innocent whimsy that brings me back to childhood, but I also feel pretty partial to the two girls and one boy (just like mine) in the panel print.  This was a favorite for my little girl, too.


I used another firefly fabric in the Wee Wanderer collection to border the pillow, since the panel in half was a bit small for the 24 inch floor pillow.  I’m glad for that though, I think it is even more fun with the border. I finished it off with an invisible zipper closure, since I figure it will definitely need some washing at some point!

So, my new Valentine’s tradition – make their gifts! There is just something about giving a gift you made yourself that makes you feel even closer to that person you made if for, and I believe that it is the same for receiving one.  Those gifts that someone has taken the time to make for me or one of my children has had something especially magical about it.  One extremely thoughtful and talented lady I know knitted a beautiful blanket for each of my three children before they were born.  All of my children (who can talk) still know her name and who made their blanket even though they very rarely see her.

There are tons of ideas out there on the web.  This link is to one of my plans for next Valentine’s (if I hold out ’till then. These are so cute!):


This clothespin wrap doll tutorial from the  This Heart of Mine blog is awesome (and p.s. her latest post is about a Valentine’s Day party- check it out).

So, a little challenge to myself and maybe others – to think about maybe putting a little extra love into your Valentine’s Day this year by thinking about making something with your own hands.  I realize not everyone is so inclined, but I have noticed that almost everyone has some kind of talent that would make for a great Valentine’s gift. You could write a song or a poem, paint a picture or take a photograph to frame, you could make a great dinner (trust me, being married to a gourmet, I can tell you, this is ALWAYS appreciated!), make something out of wood, or fabric, or clay, or metal, make a sugar scrub in a great package, or jewelry – there are endless ideas of things that can be made and talents that can be shared.  Show your love by sharing yourself!!

We would love to hear Valentine’s ideas you have, or inspiration you’ve found! There are many more to come!

1 Comment

Filed under Fabric Finding, Holiday

Photobook Fun: PicMonkey & Shutterfly Combo

Oh my!! Noticing the last time I put up a post makes me realize I’m as good at keeping up a blog as I am about journaling (not good!). Thank heavens for cameras. I do manage to archive and make books out of some of the gazillion photos we take. I figure if a picture’s worth a thousand words, I’m probably at least semi-ok on the record keeping.


I just put in an order for a very comprehensive photobook which covers the last two years of our family’s life (it went back to the last time I got in gear enough to get one done). I had been using Kodak, which went over to Shutterfly when Kodak tanked. I kinda just went with Shutterfly by default, and as I’ve ordered Christmas cards and such from them, we’ve been happy enough. We have another, better professional printer that we use for the business, but I haven’t used them yet for personal things, except prints. I really think I was just being lazy.

Well, I started putting together a photobook through Shutterfly and felt really bogged down with their system. For me, it felt restrictive, and some of the editing options (especially changing sizes to make pictures fit), were really hit or miss on even working at all. I do not have a lot of extra time, and I ended up with 37 pages- all with multiple pictures – so I seriously needed to pare down how long it was taking me to put the book together, or my little, tiny kids would be in high school by the time I finished!

In the months I intermittently worked on this book, I discovered PicMonkey. I have mentioned this site before. I promise I have no affiliation whatsoever with them (except using the site)- just putting that out there because I’m going to gush. I love this site! My husband is mainly the photographer of our family, and even more so the editor. I, however, often love taking the easy way out provided by PicMonkey. It doesn’t replace Photoshop, don’t get me wrong. I usually still put many of the pictures through that, but I fell in love with every family vacation, birthday, milestone, etc. of our family all over again as I put together collages through PicMonkey (It also helps when your husband is a professional photographer, I should add!- you can check out some of his work at our shop.). I added text with awesome fonts to write little lists of things I wanted us to remember, about an event or a child for example. It was so much more freeing to put the pages together on PicMonkey first. Some pictures were a bit too snapshotty, but I still wanted to include them for the memory and the filter tools made some of these more interesting, and I could do it very quick. Yep, I realize I totally sound like an ad – Just consider this my PicMonkey review. Totally worth the upgrade if you have photo projects in your future or just want a lot of cool fun with your photos, but fantastic without (and free!). For the first half of the book I used it without the upgrade and loved it.  I did get hooked after I upgraded for a couple different Christmas projects. It gave me even more freedom and, well, fun, putting the rest of the book together.


Then I put them on Shutterfly, basically completely circumventing their whole make-your-book process and just using them for the printing. I will do a quick update when I get the book to let you know if it looks as great as it does on the computer. (Update: I was very happy with the results.  Make sure to save in high resolution, and really watch your borders.  I was ok, but my bottom borders got cut off sometimes, and fortunately, no pictures or wording did, but I really cut it close. Next time I would make the outer borders thicker.)

I am not a huge fan of posting pictures of my kids online, so I try to do it sparingly, or I would  show more examples, with more text or overlays, but the book is mostly about the kids, so I only have a minimum to show.


Hope this helps anyone else who’s struggling with a mountain of digital images, just trying to figure out what to do with them. I know it can be daunting! Hope you have some fun while you’re at it! Oh, and I should add, if you ever use Shutterfly, and you have two years, which includes births, vacations, holidays, etc. and end up with a ton of pages, wait ’til a sale- glad I did!

Leave a comment

Filed under Photography