Monday, March 23, 2015

Sewing With Salt Air Fabrics

Yesterday, I wrote about not being quite ready to let go of the Winter quilts and pillows.  Maybe it was because it was a cold and rainy day, and I just wanted to cuddle up under a quilt with a good book.  On the next sunny day, I think I'll be ready to bring these out.  

I do love the bright and cheerful colors.  For all of these projects I used Moda's Salt Air line.  They are such happy fabrics!

I will admit, there was a time in my life when I couldn't imagine buying fabric at a quilt shop.  The big fabric store chains were just fine for me and made a pretty quilt.  Then, I discovered Moda Fabrics.  Sigh.  They're so pretty.  I just love the way there is an entire line of fabric with 40 prints that are meant to go together.  It's just so cohesive and makes my wanna-be-artistic-style easier to achieve.

I used the fabric for more than just quilts and pillows.  There were lots of summertime kid projects with Salt Air too.

Now, maybe if we could get a little sunshine around here, I could get in the mood to decorate for Spring!

Happy Spring sewing and decorating!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Not-So Springy Quilt

I know it's time to put my winter quilts away and bring out the Springy quilts, but this one doesn't seem too Winter-ish.

It's Spring cleaning time and I'm thinking about rotating my seasonal decor.  Quilts are my favorite things to change out.  I usually leave a big basket filled with almost all of my quilts in my family room, in case of a chilly night on the deck when we have company over.  In addition, I have one or two draped over the back of a chair or hanging off the side of the couch.  I rotate those, seasonally, along with my floor pillow covers.  This is one of my Winter quilts.  There's really no reason that I call it a Winter quilt.  The colors are pretty neutral and the fabrics are not season-specific.  For some reason, it just says Winter to me.

This quilt was my first jellyroll project.  I fell in love with the colors of this jellyroll, the minute I saw it.  I had no idea what I would make, but I just loved this fabric.

When I ran across this book, I knew my problems were solved.  I bought the book and picked out a pattern.  The pattern I chose was not something I would normally pick.  It was very random, and I tend to like a more predictable pattern.

What do you think?  Is this a Winter quilt, or can it stay out a bit longer?
  It's cozy, just the right colors, and looks great in my family room.  Maybe just a few more months.

Happy Spring decorating... unless you're not quite ready yet.
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Friday, March 20, 2015

Slipcovers For The Ottomans - A Fabric Review For Organic Cotton Plus

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about my new chocolate brown Hemp fabric from Organic Cotton Plus.  Last week I was able to make the slipcovers for my ottomans.  (For the record, I had to Google what the plural form of ottoman is.  Ottomans just doesn't sound right, but neither does ottomen.

So far, I'm loving the durability of the fabric.  It is quite heavy, doesn't wrinkle, and fits snuggly over the ottomans.  The only slight downside I see, so far, is the color.  I wish it was a tad darker.  I would like it to be closer in color to the dark brown chair, in the background, but I'm loving the fabric itself.  
To make the slipcovers, I took apart my old slipcovers and used one of the side panels as a template.  I used a heavy duty needle because my quilting needles aren't quite thick enough for this fabric.  Sewing with this fabric was similar to sewing with denim.  

Over the years, I've definitely become an online shopper.  Organic Cotton Plus has a great selection of fabrics and I love that they are made in the USA.

If you missed my post on my happy mail day, here is the rundown on my fabric:

Last Thursday was a very happy mail day for me.  Three yards of brown hemp fabric arrived in the mail.  

About a week prior, I was contacted by Organic Cotton Plus to do another fabric review for them.  I have done a few reviews for Organic Cotton Plus, and I have been very pleased with their fabric, so I was thrilled when they contacted me again.  I was invited to review their new Hemp line and the invitation came at a very good time.  I searched through their website and several things caught my eye, but I was especially excited about the brown hemp that I found, that resembled the brown fabric covers on my ottomans.

I loved my chocolate brown corduroy, when I first made the covers.  Sadly, after about two years, they have seen better days.  The corduroy is looking very worn and starting to come apart at the seams.  I expected that it wouldn't last too long.  This is, obviously, a place for our feet to rest and is used quite a bit.  

Online fabric shopping seems like it would be a little challenging, but I have been pleasantly surprised.  The picture, below, shows my new fabric sitting on my old ottoman.  Not a bad match!  I was looking for something durable and about the same color.  It's hard, when you can't feel and touch the fabric, but I decided to just go for it.  The hemp that I requested was VERY thick and heavy.  I'm so excited because I think it will be long lasting and look perfect in this space.  Honestly, it's exactly what I would have picked if I went shopping at the store, rather than online.

The hemp fabric that I picked is a woven fabric, that reminds me of a heavy duck cloth canvas. 

Isn't it pretty?  I can't wait to get started sewing!  I will be sure to share my pictures of the finished product when I'm done.  

Organic Cotton Plus provided me with 3 yards of brown Hemp fabric in exchange for my review of the product.  The opinions stated here are my own.

Side note:  I'm always a bit hesitant to accept the invitation of companies to review their products.  I don't ever want this blog to feel like I'm always trying to "sell" something.  Currently, the only two companies I have reviewed for are LeapFrog and Organic Cotton Plus Fabrics.  I believe in these companies and will happily promote the good work they do!  I do receive offers almost daily, in my inbox, but I rarely think a company would be a good fit for me.  A few of the reasons I chose to review products for this company are: I love to sew, the idea of working with organic fabric appeals to me, and the fabric is made in the USA.  That being said, you probably won't find a whole slew of new product reviews on here, unless Williams Sonoma calls.  I will happily review their products any day.  

Happy Online Fabric Shopping!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day - My Favorite Sugar Cookies

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here's a repost of my sugar cookie recipe, if you're looking for a yummy St. Patrick's Day treat.

My kids and I spent the afternoon making one of our favorite cookies...frosted sugar cookies. I make these cookies for most holidays, to share at our volunteer tea at school, to take to Seaside, and simple snowflakes to give as gifts at Christmas. Here's the recipe:

Just kidding. Here's the real recipe:

2 Cups Flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

6 TBSP butter

1/3 Cup shortening

3/4 Cup sugar

1 egg

1 TBSP milk

1 tsp vanilla

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Cookies for Christmas

Beat butter and shortening until fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients. Beat until well mixed. (I usually make a triple batch. They freeze well.)

The dough needs to be refrigerated for about 3 hours to make it easier to handle.

I like a thick sugar cookie. That way they are soft, rather than crispy. I roll them to 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 375 for seven minutes.

I frost my cookies with a simple powdered sugar and milk frosting. I don't ever use a recipe. I just pour in a little powdered sugar and a little milk until I get a consistency I like. The Wilton food coloring paste is the only way to go. You can buy it at Michael's. It gives a much more vivid color than regular food coloring. Stir it up until the color is well blended.

I love to frost my cookies and then use a little sanding sugar from William Sonoma. Oh, they're just so pretty. It's a tradition my kids love and it makes the house smell great too.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 14, 2015


French Chocolate Silk Pie

Happy Pie Day!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Playful Learning - The Art Of Teaching Online Workshop

Hey, teacher friends!  I've signed up to take an online class.  

Playful Learning is one of my favorite websites, books, and blogs.  I first took Mariah's Playful Learning Spaces class several years ago and I was hooked!  I couldn't wait for Wednesdays, each week, when Mariah would send out new videos and lessons. I was inspired and have made changes in my home and classroom that have stuck with me for years.  It was money and time well spent!

Well, there is a great offer right now!  If you sign up for The Art of Teaching workshop, you get the Playful Learning Spaces workshop for FREE!!!  The Art of Teaching workshop costs $48 and you get the $78 Playful Learning Spaces for $0!  Use the code ADDSPACES at checkout to apply the discount.

The Art of Teaching workshop will focus on theory, building community, and creating engaging lessons and I CAN'T WAIT to get started. The class starts on MONDAY, so you only have a few days left to register.  I'd love to have a few teacher friends do this with me!  It's a great opportunity to connect with one another through the online forum and assignments.  I'm not sure if this one will be Reggio Inspired, but most of Mariah's work tends to be inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education.  If you know me, you know I can't stop talking, reading, and learning about this.  Here's your chance to jump on board with me!

Click on the picture at the top of this post, or the button below to learn more about this online class or sign up!  I'm so passionate about this, that I've become an affiliate!

Happy learning!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

FULLY FUNDED! Donors Choose - My Cooking Project

UPDATE: My project has been fully funded!!! Woo hoo!  I can't wait to get started cooking in the classroom!  Thank you for supporting me!

I've always been a huge fan of creating experiences for kids in the classroom, and I tend to like the messy stuff.  I love to paint, do shaving cream, break out the play-doh, plant mini-gardens, and COOK!  Yes, you read that right.  I actually cook with my kindergarten students every year.  While some kids have great experiences in the kitchen with their families, not all families love to cook or spend time in the kitchen.  Cooking and baking are two of my favorite hobbies, so I will happily spend time cooking with my kindergartners.

Well, here comes the problem.  You see, when I moved schools I had leave the convection oven behind.  It was purchased by another teacher who used grant money designated for the building.  Leave the building... leave the convection oven.  Here we are on the doorstep of spring, and I can't do my favorite cooking unit with the kids.  It's killing me, friends!  I can't even begin to tell you how many reading, writing, science, social studies, and math lessons come from this unit!


Have you heard of it?  It's a website where teachers can post a project and ask the public to help fund it.  I've been teaching this unit for years, so I have collected all of the cooking and baking supplies, as well as cook books, that I need for the unit.  The only thing that is missing is the oven.  I found a great convection oven through the Best Buy Education link on Donor's Choose.

With tax, processing, donor's choose donation, and shipping it will be just under $300.  It's portable and can sit on a rolling cart, which means I can share it with other teachers in my building.  (At my old school it was a very popular item at many different grade levels.)

Are you interested in helping me purchase this?  If so, for the next 4 days Donor's Choose will match any dollar amount (up to $100) that is donated to this project.  You need to enter the code SPARK at checkout.  If you are willing to help me out, I will be your best friend forever!  Here is the link to my project, if you'd like to help.

Thanks, friends!

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Best Way to Host a Dinner Party - Chapter 4

I feel like I share about the BEST way to host a dinner party quite frequently. When something is the BEST, you just can't help but share.  

It was Angie's turn to host this month.  She told the dinner guests to come in comfy clothes and her theme for the dinner party was comfort food.  Now, if you haven't read my previous blog posts about my dinner club, here's how it works.  The hostess selects 4 dishes to cook for the party, purchases the ingredients, and sets everything out on the counter.  Each of the guests and the hostess selects a dish to prepare and we spend the evening cooking together.  Doesn't that sound lovely?  The goal is to select recipes that are new to us.  Angie said she chose a few recipes from the Pioneer Woman website.  I love P-Dub. You just can't go wrong there.

There was salad, grilled cheese, tomato soup, and strawberry crisp. 
And yoga pants. 
And cocktails.

I forgot to read all of the recipes, so I don't even know what was in everything.  I will say with certainty that it was really yummy and comforting.  The grilled cheese sandwiches were made with rye bread, white cheddar cheese, tomatoes, onions, something green that I didn't want on my sandwiches, and a dijon spread.  I was licking my fingers as I ate the gooey-ness.

The salad also had a hint of dijon.  I've decided that I really love nuts in my salads.  

I picked the tomato soup for my contribution.  I have a confession to make.  Never, in my life, have I tasted tomato soup.  I know, I know.  Some of you are thinking that it must be because I don't like tomatoes.  Ummm.  Tomatoes happen to be one of my favorite foods of all time.  So, my only reason for not ever trying tomato soup is that Campbell's tomato doesn't look too yummy to me.  The recipe that we used was a creamy tomato basil.  It was pretty good.  I can see why people consider this comfort food.   The verdict?  I think I'd make it again and I think my family would like it.  It was a good choice for the dinner party!

We finished the night with strawberry crisp, which was TO DIE FOR.  It didn't photograph well, so it didn't make the cut for the blog, but it was my favorite comfort food of the night.  

I love my dinner club friends.  It's so nice to have a chance to sit and talk with other adults, find out how my friends' lives are going, and just try out a few new recipes at the same time.  Now, don't you agree that this is the BEST way to host a dinner party?

Thanks dinner club!  I can't wait until next month!

Happy cooking!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Little House In The Suburbs

It might just be one of my favorite books of all time.

No, I don't plan on getting goats.  Our HOA would not be happy.  I do love the idea that you don't have to live on a farm to grow (at least some of) your own food.  I've always been a gardener, but this book may just take my gardening to a new level. I am finding so many places where I want to talk to the authors and say, "Yes, I know exactly what you mean!"

I had big plans, one summer night, to head to the grocery store and pick up a few things for dinner.  I was thinking about grilling something, finding some fresh veggies, and whipping up a side dish to go along with it.  Well, the day wore on and I got lazy.  It was getting close to dinner time and I thought, "I have no desire to go to the store.  I know this sounds lazy, but I'll just go out and pick tomatoes and basil and make a pasta salad.  We'll call that dinner."  I made my pasta dish and picked some berries from the yard to serve on the side.  Everyone was happy and had no idea that I had something fabulous planned instead.  In the book, Little House In The Suburbs, the author talks about almost that same scenario.  The "lazy mom's dinner" often looks like frozen pizza, but it can easily turn into grabbing whatever is ready in the garden.  I have to admit, it was a pretty awesome feeling to create a meal out of the produce growing in my backyard rather than having to run out to the store...and it was all because I was feeling lazy.

I was talking to my friend, Jenny,  about gardening and I think she summed it up nicely.  She said, "I just want to grow enough food that I can have my kids go outside and pick their own snacks everyday."  Doesn't that sound perfect?  I don't have any intention of being completely self-sufficient with my gardening, and push myself over the edge.  I do want to grow just enough that we have food to nibble on,  I can have fun playing in the dirt, and my kids have a true understanding of where their food comes from.

I still want chickens. And a compost bin.  That's all.

Happy reading and gardening!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My Home Town

 I was driving to work this week and I was thinking about what a cool place I have an opportunity to live and work. The sun was shining, frost glistening, and it just felt peaceful. Well, it just so happened that, I recently saw on Facebook that Budget Travel is holding a "Coolest Small Towns in America" contest, and my hometown is in the running.  Let me tell you a bit about Snohomish, Washington.

I don't actually live in Downtown Snohomish.  I live up the hill from the town.  To get to town, where my school is, I drive through the valley.  It's beautiful.  There are mountains in the background, rolling farmlands, hot air balloons, and sky divers.  The snow geese (swans) land here every year.  When my son was younger, he loved the idea that people would come from miles around to take pictures of the snow geese.

The town itself is an old town.  My grandma went to Snohomish High School in the 30's and her dad was a pastor at one of the small town churches.  The main street through town is lined with old buildings, filled with cute little shops and restaurants, and houses LOTS of antique shops.

One of the joys of this little town is watching the skydivers and hot air balloons on a sunny afternoon.  One of my favorite memories of moving to Snohomish was eating at Chuck's Seafood, one sunny summer night.  We were eating outside, having some really yummy clam chowder and fish, and enjoying watching the skydivers off in the distance.  The live music was playing and one of the songs was Bruce Springsteen's My Home Town.  Everything about that night was absolutely perfect... music, food, family, weather, entertainment.  It really made me appreciate the home town my kids would be raised in.

I may have mentioned a time or two, on this blog, that I really love farm life.

Wide open spaces, raising animals, working in the garden, and local farmer's markets make me truly happy.  While I don't have all of those things, living in a suburban neighborhood, I do have everything I need within a 5 minute drive from my house.  I love all of the local pumpkin, berry, corn, and tree farms.  Lots of kids in the area work on the farms as seasonal workers.  It's a great feeling of community and October tends to be one big party at the corn maze or pumpkin farm. (Many places around here offer night time corn maze adventures.  My personal favorites are not the zombie paintball corn mazes.  I prefer the corn maze that ends with a bond fire and marshmallow roast.)

Have I sold you on why my home town is a great place to raise a family?  My kids are 14 and 10.  We moved out here about 10 years ago because my sister and sister in law both lived in the same neighborhood.  My sister found the perfect house for us, in the neighborhood, and we just couldn't resist the idea of all of the cousins growing up together.  This year we have a Junior, Sophomore, Freshman, 8th grader, 7th grader, and 4th grader running through the schools.  It's so much fun having them all go to school together. (elementary, middle, and high school)  Last Summer, I decided that I was ready to make the jump from the Edmonds School District to the Snohomish School District so I could teach out here too.  It's been a pretty great move!  I really love my new school.  I'm enjoying the small town feel, getting to know more about the district my own kids are in, and learning about the families in my community.  It's a place I see myself staying for a long time.  

To vote for Snohomish in the  Budget Travel contest, click here.  Voting ends today, March 4th!

Photos on this post are from Googling Snohomish.

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