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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Girls Ruffle Apron Pattern and Tutorial

My 4yo has been not so patiently waiting for her new apron. Previously, she used a hand me down one from her sister, but it was getting pretty small. She wanted to match my cupcake apron, but I let her choose the fabric for the back, ruffle, and ties.

She LOVES to bake with me. Especially cookies or anything with sprinkles. And now we can match.

I took pictures as I was making this apron, so I am throwing together a little tutorial.

You can adjust the size of the main apron piece as needed. I have a smaller one that my 7yo is quickly outgrowing, so I made this one a little bigger. It fits my 4yo (who is tall for her age) with room to grow. I made a digital pattern and it requires 4 pages. Print them out (check the "actual size" box), tape them together (left to right, top to bottom in numbered order), and cut it out. It is available HERE

Now, I learned to quilt before I sewed anything wearable, so I do a lot of cutting things in strips with the rotary cutter from fabric off the bolt. That is usually about 44" or so. The fabric should be folded with the selvage edges together.

Cut out your pieces as listed below.

Ruffle: Cut 2 strips 6 1/2" x width of fabric (WOF)
Waist Ties: Cut 1 strip 6 1/2" x WOF
Neck Ties: Cut 1 strip 4" x WOF
Front and Back: Cut 1 of each from pattern pieces- available HERE.

I started with the ruffle. Sew one edge of each piece together on the short ends to make one long strip.

Hem the short ends of the ruffle pieces. I just folded it under twice and stitched it down.

Press the long ends together so that there is a nice fold on the bottom edge of the ruffle.

Sew two long gathering stitches and pull the bobbin threads to gather the ruffle. Pin it to the bottom of the apron, making sure the seam where the two pieces were joined is in the middle. Also, start 3 1/2" from the edge on each side to leave room for the waist ties and seam allowances.

Baste the ruffle to the apron. It just makes it easier to work with later.

Now... for the ties...
Fold each strip in half lengthwise with the right sides facing in. Stitch 1/4" from the edge on each piece to make long tubes.

Cut each piece in half, flip right sides out, and press well. Top stitch 1/8" from the edge all the way around each tie, hemming one end by folding it under twice before stitching. When I topstitch, I usually increase my stitch length a bit (to a 3).

Pin the ties in place on the main apron piece, paying attention to the hemmed ends to make sure they will face the same way. Leave 1/4" seam allowance between the tie and the edge of the apron at the corners.

Pin the back of the apron to the front of the apron, sandwiching the ruffle and ties. Be careful to make sure the waist ties are folded down so that you don't catch the edge when sewing the waist area of the apron.

Sew all the way around the edge of the apron, leaving an opening at the top between the neck ties. Also, stitch over the ties several times to make sure they are held in place really well. Use the opening to flip the apron right side out. Press it really well. Finally, topstitch 1/8" from the edge all the way around the apron. This will also close the opening at the top that you used to turn it right side out.

That is it! A pretty, ruffly apron!

Now, some things I have done differently on other aprons...

~you can make the ruffle extend all the way to the corner and put the waist ties under it if you prefer
~pockets can be added to the main body piece which is also nice if girls want to play restaurant and have a pocket to put their order tablet in ;)
~interfacing can be added to the waist ties to make them a little sturdier
~the waist ties can me made twice as long so that they wrap around and tie in a bow at the front 
~the back can be made of a more contrasting fabric so that it is clearly reversible
~the ruffles and ties can be made of contrasting fabrics
~pleats instead of ruffles can be made along the bottom

This apron was one of my Finish-A-Long goals, so I can check this one off! YAY!!


Admittedly, this was the easiest thing to finish, but I do feel productive for having started to cross things off of my to do list since I was with bronchitis for weeks. And, my daughter was super happy to have her own apron so I am glad that I quit procrastinating!

Link Parties where I sometimes hang out...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Scrapbook Paper Collage Canvas Art ~ Zebra & Elephant

My daughter and I made more collage canvas art pieces featuring jungle animals. (You can see the hippo and tiger that we made before HERE.)

First, we did a purple elephant on an aqua background.

Then, she changed her mind and did a zebra on a pink background. The ribbon on the edges has polka dots.

One thing we learned is that using larger pieces for the background reduces the bubbles. 

All it takes is a canvas, some mod podge, bits of scrapbook paper, ribbon, and a little paint for the details. These are pretty easy to make and it is definitely a project worth trying with the kids! 

 Link Parties where I sometimes hang out...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Easy Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Today I am sharing one of our best family recipes! We always called this "Silly Cake" because it has no eggs and mixes up right in the pan. It is perfect if you have an egg allergy or if you ran out but still want chocolate cake. Also, having no bowl to wash is great if you don't like washing dishes. Are you sold on this cake yet? You should be. It is awesome!

Also, I think the chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting (actually, we say "icing") is pretty much a standard dessert where I live. It might be a PA Dutch/central PA thing. Peanut butter and chocolate are a great combination, so it just makes sense.

But, there is a funny story behind this cake recipe. I mention on my "about page" how I used to be an awful cook. Well, the first time I tried to make this cake, I used tablespoons for everything. Salt, baking soda, etc. When it came out of the oven and looked a little funny I was very insulted because Mom didn't want to put icing on it until we tried it. Poor Dad got the first piece. We asked if it was OK and he shook his head "yes", then his eyes got wide and he violently shook his head "no" as he rushed to spit it out. He said that he had never had a cake grow in his mouth before!

Thankfully, I learned the difference between tablespoons and teaspoons.

Don't let that story scare you. My 4yo and I made this cake last week and I took pics so that I can show you how easy this cake is to make.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a 9 x 13 baking dish. We usually use a metal pan but glass is fine, too.

Next, make two wells in the dry ingredients. Put the vinegar in one and oil in the other.

Then, pour water over everything...

...and mix together really well. (Sneak peek of an apron tutorial that is coming soon!)

It will look like this:

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when you poke it. Top with frosting (and sprinkles if your 4yo insists on them).

Here is the full recipe:

Silly Cake
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2/3 c. vegetable oil
2 c. water

Combine dry ingredients in baking dish. Make two wells in the dry ingredients for the vinegar and oil. Pour water over everything and mix well. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean.

Peanut Butter Frosting
1 stick butter or margarine
4 c. powdered sugar
4 Tbsp. milk
1/2 c. peanut butter

Cream butter and half of the powdered sugar. Stir in 4 Tbsp. of milk and the remaining powdered sugar. Mix well. Add in 1/2 cup of peanut butter and beat until fluffy. (You can add more or less peanut butter as desired.)

 Link Parties where I sometimes hang out...

Friday, January 22, 2016

You are my Sunshine Wood Sign

Just a little peek at something else that I made recently. It was a particularly dreary week when I made it, so the irony was not lost on me.

I wasn't too sure about they yellow letters, but outlining them in pink seemed to do the trick!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Crock Pot Corn Potato Chowder

Yeah, I wasn't sure about that combination at first.  What happened was that I was using my divided crock pot to make baked sweet potatoes and I needed another side dish for the other half that would cook all day instead of just a few hours. Well, I found several different recipes for corn chowder and ended up mashing them together to make my own. It was surprisingly good! I figured that I better write it down so that I don't forget what I did and I might as well do that on the blog and share it with the rest of you.

Crock Pot Corn Potato Chowder

1 quarts frozen corn (canned would work, too)
2 cups peeled, diced potatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 small onion, finely chopped
6 slices bacon, browned and crumbled
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste

Place corn, potatoes, broth, onion, and bacon in a 4 quart crock pot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Warm milk in the mircowave and add to crock pot. (Cold milk could risk a sudden temperature change and cause the crock to crack.) Cook for 15-20 minutes and serve. A little extra bacon on top would make it even better!

Now, to learn from my mistake... I didn't have enough room in the crock pot to add the milk, so I had to scoop it out and put it all in a pot on the stove. That works, too.

I also made some barbecue chicken and a loaf of bread in the bread maker. It was a good, hearty meal for a cold night! I love crock pot meals!

 Link Parties where I sometimes hang out...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Scarves- Crochet and Sewing

I made four scarves this year for Christmas. The first was a basic, crocheted infinity scarf for my mom. I forgot to take a picture.

The second was made the same way, but a bit smaller for my 10yo. Well, she thought it was too long, but not long enough to loop around twice, so I offered to rip it out and redo it. I ended up making a smaller cowl with a shell stitch. She likes this much better. It only used a half skein of yarn and the variegated colors somehow lined up on their own to make diagonal stripes.

The other scarves I made were from a flannel remnant I got at Joann's.  I just made two basic infinity scarves- they ended up costing about 80 cents apiece. My daughter loves mustaches and I thought that this was fun fabric! I kept one and she kept one. We're twinsies. :)

They were pretty lightweight, which was good because Christmas was so super warm in PA this year! The kids got to go outside to play without coats! There was no "Staching through the Snow" for us! :)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mustache Pillow and Sparkly Pink Pillows

More pillows! That seemed to be the thing this year. I had an idea to make a huge mustache pillow for my daughter. I had some gray dot minky that I hadn't used for what I originally intended- an elephant taggy blanket- so I used it for this project instead. It goes perfectly with the gray walls and trim in their bedroom!

The back is a fun arrow print in coordintating colors that I knew my daughter would like. I figured cotton on the back would make it a little sturdier. I wish I had used a better quality cotton, though, because it ripped when I was stuffing it and I had to fix that. :/

The other pillows I made are for my daughter who LOVES all things pink and sparkly! 90% of her Christmas wish list was sparkly, which she pointed out with an asterisk and side note. :) One pillow is made from a performance lycra fabric- it was surprisingly easy to sew! The other is a pink sparkly satin.

I used a walking foot to sew these and made envelope closures for the back. They really only took a few minutes to make.

Both gifts were very much appreciated. I thought it was nice to make something fun and frivolous instead of something practical. You are only a little girl once!

There is a funny story to go with the pink pillows...
When I got the fabric, I was Christmas shopping with my husband and took him along to Joann's... again. He was a good sport and I left him at the cutting counter with the cutting instructions while I went to go look for something else. Well, he was not too thrilled to be left alone to get sparkly pink fabric cut. I think that makes him a good dad to his many little girls. :) He then helped me search several mall stores for a reindeer Beanie Boo. I don't care what it looked like- that is proof of a real man, right there. :)

Link Parties where I sometimes hang out...